Residents appeal for 300m gravel pit setback

ERIN – A decision on the licensing of a gravel pit expansion just south of Erin village was deferred after local residents clashed with Halton Crushed Stone (HCS)at a tribunal hearing Oct. 16 and 17.

The pit operator had zoning and official plan changes approved last June by the Local Planning Appeals Tribunal (LPAT), but evidence and arguments still had to be presented on the granting of a provincial license.

Residents told LPAT member John Douglas, who chaired the hearing, that additional noise, silica dust and traffic would affect their health, quality of life and property values.

Neal DeRuyter, representing HCS, said the firm had gone beyond its obligations by providing a gravel extraction setback of 90 metres instead of the minimum 30m, setting a two-year extraction period in two areas, and providing an increased berm height in the northwest corner of the new extraction zone, which is right across the road from the BelErin subdivision.

Modern standard

Residents are demanding a 300m setback, saying it is the modern standard in the county official plan, even though it came into effect after the lands were designated for extraction.

DeRuyter argued that even though 300m is the norm, it is only a guide to mapping and protecting aggregate resources, and that extraction is allowable beyond a 30m setback. 

He said the county had made a deliberate decision to include the additional 270m within the aggregate extraction zone, which is a map overlay.

Ed Delaporte of the Aspen McCullough residents group quoted section 6.6.1 of county official plan amendment 81, which states, “In order to recognize environmental and land use constraints to the establishment of mineral aggregate operations, the following are not included in the mineral aggregate resource overlay: urban centres and hamlets plus 300 metres beyond their boundaries.”

1976 OMB ruling

Delaporte also provided Douglas with a copy of a 1976 Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) ruling that approved the existing pit, long before the subdivision was started in 1994. 

The ruling says, “extraction should be completed before the planned urban expansion”.

Delaporte said the residents believe there was an agreement between the municipality and the previous owners of the pit to avoid extraction close to the village.

They are upset the town cannot provide a copy of such an agreement or of any correspondence from the previous owner about the new subdivision.

More recently, the town and Wellington County negotiated a settlement agreement with HCS, with no opposition from Credit Valley Conservation or the Ministry of Natural Resources. 

Mayor Allan Alls said it was the best deal possible.

“The mayor has been quoted as saying he fought hard on our behalf,” said Delaporte. “However it appears to those of us involved in this alliance as though the mayor has fought hard against us, fought against his constituents, and has appeared to be in the corner of Halton Crushed Stone.

“There has been tremendous consideration given to the protection of the wildlife that will be affected by HCS’ pit expansion, while the concerns and requests of the residents who live in close proximity to the pit have gone unanswered or ignored.”

Transparency issue

The residents group accused town councillors of violating the transparency provision of their council code of ethics for not releasing a copy of the settlement after it was approved in closed session.

HCS has stressed there will be no increase in the amount of gravel being shipped. Residents are concerned, however, about the possibility of extra traffic related to the recycling of asphalt in the older pit area.