Guelph-Eramosa considering options following LPAT decision on ‘hidden quarry

BRUCEDALE – Guelph-Eramosa Mayor Chris White says the township is meeting with its legal team to determine the next steps following the Feb. 11 Local Planning and Appeal Tribunal (LPAT) decision to approve the “hidden quarry” near Rockwood.

The 39-hectare property at the northeast corner of Highway 7 and 6th Line, south of Rockwood, has been owned by James Dick Construction Limited (JDCL) since 1989.

It was a packed council chamber on Feb. 24 as Concerned Residents Coalition (CRC) director Dan Kennaley and president Doug Tripp sought council’s support to have the CRC included in a community liaison committee and to keep the group updated regarding the quarry.

Tripp said the CRC has been the voice of residents of Guelph-Eramosa, Milton, Nassageweya and Halton Hills on quarry application since 2013.

Noting the Feb. 11 LPAT decision, Tripp said, “The CRC’s view is that this is a bad decision for a number of reasons … far too long a list to take the time to go over today.

“We believe this decision is an example of the anti-environment policies of the current provincial government.”

Tripp added this is specifically applicable to the aggregate industry within Ontario.

“We are in the process of tabulating many instances of evidence in the decision which was ignored or misrepresented,” he told council, adding the CRC is working to determine what action it should take.

Tripp also stated, “this is a bad decision because of the risks involved – risks that are related to the impact of this operation which were acknowledged by the adjudicator to be monitored through an extensive program by the operator.”

He added, “In view of the lack of capacity for enforcement of monitoring data by the Ministry of Natural Resources and the proponent’s track record, we believe this decision is committing the community to 20-plus years of wrangling over data generated by the operator.”

Lastly, Tripp stated “while need for the product does not need to be demonstrated by the applicant, the adjudicator cited the marketing spin submitted by James Dick without affording the other parties the opportunity to argue the contrary view of a mismanaged aggregate industry that has 7,000 plus active licenced pits and quarries, many of which are not depleted or simply sitting idle.

“Yet we have an application for another quarry.”

Tripp said the CRC “is doing everything possible at a political level to prevent this interim decision from being made final.”

In addition, he stated there are conditions that need to be met before the decision is rendered as final.

Kennaley handed members of council a proposed terms of reference to create a community liaison committee.

He also asked the township to create a public commenting opportunity regarding the road agreement between the township and JDCL (a requirement of the LPAT decision).

Finally, Kennaley said, the CRC would like the township to keep the group advised of the timing of actions to satisfy the other conditions of the LPAT decision.

“One of the things we are concerned about are that the conditions may be worked on behind closed doors.”

He said the liaison committee would exist for the sharing of open communication and to minimize the environmental and social impact of the quarry by ensuring all site conditions are met.

The CRC recommended the committee include: two CRC representatives, two neighbours, representatives of the various municipalities affected in Wellington County and Halton Region, representation from the MNRF and the GRCA, and representation from JDCL.

Kennaley also stated the CRC wants an independent, paid individual be recruited to chair the committee, with JDCL paying to cover the cost of that person.

“We think an independent non-voting chairperson is a really good idea,” he said.

The CRC also wants to ensure the liaison committee provides an open forum for members of the public (not on the committee) to make comment or voice concerns about the operation.

In response to the CRC delegation, White stated “we have not have time to review the 69-page ruling.

“We will be getting input from our legal team to let us know what is in the document.”

Noting the CRC requests will be considered, White thanked the group for its delegation and offered assurance the township would get back to the organization.

“We know we want to get going ahead on this because we know the proponents want to get going forward. This looks simple, but we all know it isn’t.”

In a closed session at the end of the public meeting, Guelph-Eramosa councillors met with legal counsel to receive advice subject to solicitor/client privilege.