Quarry risks unacceptable says CRC

BRUCEDALE – After spending almost $800,000 over the last seven years to fight the proposed “hidden quarry” between Rockwood and Acton, members of the Concerned Residents Coalition (CRC) will now have to wait several months for a provincial decision.

The Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT) hearing, in which opponents raised legal and environmental challenges to the below-water aggregate mining application by James Dick Construction Ltd. (JDCL), concluded on July 9 in the Guelph-Eramosa council chamber.

CRC lawyer Chris Barnett argued that in spite of owning the property on Highway 7 for more than 20 years, including the last seven years of active analysis, JDCL has failed to satisfy the legal tests required for approval.

Barnett said JDCL had not “demonstrated that there will be no negative impacts on the [specific adjacent] natural features or on their  ecological functions’ as required by the Provincial Policy Statement.”

He said the company can’t be certain no harm would come to municipal and private wells, nearby provincially significant wetlands (PSW) and farms, the cold water trout habitat of Brydson Creek, and wildlife habitat, notably that of endangered or threatened species such as the little brown bat, eastern wood pewee and snapping turtles.

Barnett also questioned whether adequate setback distances would be applied to blasting operations to protect the safety of people and buildings.

In a number of instances, according to a CRC press release, assessments presented by CRC expert witnesses were directly contradictory to those presented by JDCL.

As reported previously, JDCL lawyer David White argued aggregate extraction close to the Greater Toronto Area is in the public interest and that the company has in fact met all of the requirements set by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry and the Grand River Conservation Authority to mitigate risks.

Lawyer David Germain, acting for Halton Region and the Town of Halton Hills, questioned the adequacy of JDCL’s traffic studies on the haul route through Acton.

Germain said the JDCL application is still not suitable for approval, despite three new sets of site plans submitted during the course of the hearing. Barnett argued it is not in the public interest to allow further studies and alterations to the JDCL proposal.

Dr. Karl Schiefer, an aquatic ecologist for the CRC, had the following commentary on the plan in his testimony:

“There are water recharge areas to the north of the site in the PSWs, water discharge into the cold water environment of the Brydson Pond and Creek to the south of the site, and they want to drop a 30-metre deep excavation with heavy industrial operations in between the two,” he said. “What could possibly go wrong?”

LPAT adjudicator Scott Tousaw will review the evidence and arguments, and expects to render a decision late this fall.