Guelph-Eramosa approves “˜Spencer Pit”™ zoning amendment; gallery empty

Guelph-Eramosa council approved the zoning bylaw amendment for a new aggregate extraction pit in the township in front of an empty gallery on May 2.

Tri City Lands Ltd. originally applied for a zoning bylaw amendment for a new pit, also known as the “Spencer Pit,” in March 2014, at which time the company also applied for an Aggregate Resources Act licence with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF).

The proposed pit will be located in the southwest corner of the municipality on Wellington Road 124, north of an existing rail line. The vehicle entrance will be off of Wellington Road 124, directly opposite Kossuth Road.

The rezoning amendment application requested that 51 hectares (127 acres) of land currently zoned agricultural be rezoned to extractive industrial, allowing for above-the-water-table extraction of up to 650,000 tonnes of aggregate annually for five to 10 years. No county official plan amendment is required because the area is designated prime agricultural and is included within a mineral aggregate resource overlay. The pit operation will not extract within 1.5m of the established water table.

The township received a revised rezoning amendment application in January, which addressed all the concerns raised from the 2014 application.

About 30 people attended a public meeting on March 7 at the Marden Community Centre, with about half of those voicing objections to the pit.

However, on May 2, none of those objectors showed up to the council chamber for council’s decision.

That didn’t stop Dan Currie, township planning consultant from MHBC Planning, Urban Design and Landscape Architecture, from explaining how resident concerns were addressed.

Hydrogeological assessment

Currie said many of the concerns residents had about the new pit surrounded water quantity and quality.

“The important parts are it’s an above water table pit so there’s not a lot of water extraction that’s part of this application, but also the pit is downstream from adjacent wells,” he said. “What this means is the ground water flow is away from the adjacent properties, towards the river.”

The report showed there would likely be no negative impact on water quality or quantity. However, Tri City is going monitor area wells to measure whether the pit has an impact.


Other water comments centred around drainage, in terms of flooding and surface water flow on adjacent properties.

“There are no permanent watercourse features on the site and there’s relatively no run off expected from it,” Currie said. “The final surface drainage during extraction will be contained within the site.”

He indicated berms would be designed in such a way that drainage wouldn’t be impacted.

Property values

Another of the residents’ major concerns was the potential impact on the value of adjacent properties.  

Currie explained there are a number of factors that go into property assessment, adding the planning matters and zoning bylaw amendments the consultants are concerned about in regards to the application have minor influence on the total value.

“It really is, will [the proposed pit] result in any external adverse impacts around the property?” he said.

“It may or may not impact it and so that’s been a large part of the review and our conclusion is that there are no adverse impacts to the extent that they are undue or that the zoning bylaw amendment should be denied.”

Agricultural land

Currie said another large concern was the loss of agricultural land. However, he made it clear the applicant has addressed the concern.

“The applicant has prepared a plan to demonstrate that site will be rehabilitated back to agricultural use,” he said. “That’s a requirement, (a) provincial policy statement.”

Currie said Wellington County is satisfied with the plan to rehabilitate the agricultural land.

Quality of life

Residents were also concerned about mitigation of dust and noise. Currie said the MNRF reviewed the dust mitigation procedures and determined they are appropriate.

R.J. Burnside and Associates Limited officials reviewed the noise study and they’re satisfied the berms and other mitigation techniques will limit the impact on adjacent properties.

Pit life

Many residents were looking to put a restriction on the pit to make sure its lifetime doesn’t extend.

The applicant anticipated the extraction would happen for five to 10 years and Currie said provincial policy doesn’t support a defined timeline.

Truck traffic

Another concern Currie addressed was the potential for trucks to line up along Wellington Road 124 at night and idle until the pit gates opened in the morning.

“That may happen but that can be dealt with through enforcement,” he said.  “Obviously that’s not permitted to park on the side of the road in the middle of the night … idling until gates open.

“There are ways to address that. So we feel confident that if that is an issue it can be resolved.”

Currie also said the county has reviewed the traffic study and is satisfied with access points and traffic volumes.

Natural features

One of the major concerns about natural features was that the area is a natural habitat for the little brown bat, which is a species at risk.

“There is a small part of the property, the extraction area, that is not going to be extracted at this point because it provides habitat for the little brown bat and … the ministry has signed off that that’s an appropriate way to mitigate that impact.”

Agency comments

Although numerous relevant agencies had comments at the outset, their concerns were addressed through the application process, Currie said.

“I was kind of prepared to say something but there’s no one in the gallery,” said councillor Corey Woods.

“My parents run a trucking company on (Wellington Road) 124 between Whitelaw and (Wellington Road) 32 … right behind them is the Lafarge pit and they’ve been there for about 20 years and within those 20 years from the Lafarge pit there’s never been any noise, there’s never been any vibration, there’s never been any affect to their water, there’s never been any dust.”

He advised Tri City to run its pit in a similar way and nobody will notice it’s there.  

“In fact [Lafarge has] been a great neighbour,” he said. “So I think some of the stuff coming out of the public meeting, people are concerned with change but from having an experience next to the Lafarge pit, I think they won’t even notice it’s there after a bit.”

Council unanimously passed the approval of the zoning bylaw amendment application.