Problems persist with Roszell Pit: report

PUSLINCH – Puslinch council is losing patience with CBM Aggregates, the owner and operator of the Roszell Pit.

Council received ground water monitoring reports about the pit at its Aug. 16 meeting, reports that look very similar to the reports received for the past five years in which none of the issues raised have been addressed.

“This is very frustrating to continue getting reports saying there’s a problem (at the pit) but nothing is being done,” said councillor Sara Bailey. “What more can we be doing?”

“I feel like I have read this report five years in a row,” councillor Jessica Goyda agreed.

With previous reports, that indicate below water table excavation is exacerbating low water levels in the area, council passed resolutions to write to the aggregate operator and inform the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry.

Township clerk and interim CAO Courtenay Hoytfox noted “in general, staff does not get a response from the ministry. TAPMO got an audience with the ministry at AMO. We are outlining our concern for AMO. We are trying to find alternate ways.”

TAPMO is the Top Aggregate Producing Municipalities of Ontario and Puslinch Mayor James Seeley is chair.

AMO is the Association of Municipalities of Ontario. Its annual conference was Aug. 20 to 23 in London, Ontario.

Hoytfox said the TAPMO presentation will raise more general complaints – not just what’s happening at the Roszell Pit.

“The TAPMO delegation will be more general,” she said. “We hope to highlight to the ministry the lack of action of the ministry.”

The ground water monitoring and ecological and aquatic monitoring reports, conducted by Dance Environmental Inc. for CBM, were reviewed by the township’s experts retained on contract.

Harden Environmental noted that while 2022 was a hot, dry summer, that is not the sole reason for the low water levels reported.

“It is our interpretation that the low water levels south of the pit are exacerbated by the below water table extraction. A potential impact was expected, and a silt barrier was installed to mitigate low water levels in wetlands and ponds. The observed decline of water levels indicates that the silt barrier is not isolating the drawdown effect of the below-water-table extraction,” Harden noted in its report to council.

Aboud and Associates reviewed CBM’s report with respect to vegetation and the impact on aquatic species and found the report to be lacking.

“Our review of the submitted report has determined that while the proponents have outlined the results of the monitoring for 2022, they have not completed a thorough analysis of the data, or comparison to baseline conditions. Additional details are required pertaining to the changes observed in 2022, including changes to amphibian breeding and wetland water levels,” reads Aboud’s report.

Council has voiced concern with CBM in the past. The aggregate extraction firm owns several pits in Puslinch – Roszell, Lanci, Aberfoyle, Neubauer, Mast and McNally among them – and council denied its request earlier this year to expand the Lanci Pit, until and unless all its pits are compliant with their aggregate licenses.

In 2020, council asked CBM to cease below water table extraction because of its negative impact on neighbouring wells and wetlands.

Council has also insisted CBM add flagpersons, road signs, and to clean up road debris on township roads outside its work sites and at its unsignalized crossings.

So far, nothing has come of council’s actions.

Council hopes to hear a positive report from Seeley at the next council meeting as to how the TAPMO meeting went with the ministry and will formulate next steps at that time.