Lawyers make final pitches at quarry hearing

BRUCEDALE – After six weeks of evidence from 29 witnesses, final arguments were delivered on July 8 and  9 in the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT) hearing on the “hidden quarry,” which is proposed along Hwy. 7 east of Rockwood.

LPAT member Scott Tousaw will take some time to review the evidence and arguments, and issue his decision on the contentious pit at a later, unspecified date. The application for an aggregate licence and re-zoning of the site was made in 2013.

The hearing was held at the Guelph-Eramosa council chambers, forcing township council to meet at the Marden Community Centre until this week.

David White, representing James Dick Construction Limited (JDCL), was the first to present a final argument, describing the need for high-quality aggregate product in the construction business.

He said it was an accomplishment for the company to satisfy the concerns of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry and the Grand River Conservation Authority.

He was to be followed by David Germain, representing Halton Region and the Town of Halton Hills, with issues that include traffic through Acton and impact on the environment.

The final speaker was to be Chris Barnett, representing the Concerned Residents Coalition (CRC) with a wide range of objections, including blasting vibration and flyrock, risks to wetlands and stream ecology, traffic, disruption to local homes and businesses and possible expansion towards Rockwood.

White said the high-quality Amabel dolostone available at the proposed pit is a valuable part of Ontario’s $37 billion construction industry.

He said it is in short supply because three proposed pits have been turned down in recent years, including JDCL’s proposed Rockfort quarry in Caledon in 2010 (where Barnett represented the residents in opposition).

He said that since transportation represents 50 per cent of aggregate prices, having the supply close to the GTA marketplace would lower construction costs. He said the pit could cut 1.5 million kilometres from the distances travelled by aggregate trucks and save 200,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases per year.

He criticized Guelph-Eramosa council for denying approval of the proposal, ignoring an expensive peer review that supported JDCL studies.

“They did not call any evidence [at the hearing], presumably because they have no evidence,” he said.

White portrayed the company as a victim of the CRC, which stirred up public opposition and set standards that were “unreasonable and unreachable”. He said that with CRC being biased against the pit from the outset, negotiation was not possible.

He complained to the hearing, saying CRC set up a car next to Hwy. 7 with a boulder through its window and proclaimed a future flyrock danger zone, as a means of fundraising for its cause.

His statement resulted in an objection from Barnett, sustained by the chair, since no evidence had been presented about the CRC tactic.

White claimed that the process of underwater aggregate extraction proposed by JDCL, and used by the firm at three other pits, is “probably the way of the future”.

He said the water eliminates dust problems and avoids the groundwater issues that result from de-watering a pit.

He said the quarry ponds would actually benefit Brydson Creek, providing more water flow in dry seasons and retaining water during wet periods.

He said the monitoring plan in place has “trigger points” that will require quarry operations to cease until any issue of concern is resolved.