In a gravel pit only surface gravel deposits are removed. They are usually only open for a few years. The top soil is preserved and after the gravel is removed the top soil is replaced for farming. A quarry strips away all the top soil and gravel down to bed rock then blasts into the bedrock to remove stone which is crushed and usually trucked away for a full range of construction use from roads to buildings. The Hidden Quarry proposes to blast 100 feet into the water table over a 60 acre area. It will operate for at least 20 years and maybe much longer, leaving two small lakes. The property will no longer be available for agriculture. It may also expand into neighbouring properties.
It is located at the corner of Highway 7 and 6th Line Eramosa, just east of Rockwood and west of Acton. It is only one kilometre from the southern neighbourhoods of Rockwood as the crow flies, and as little as 165 m from homes and buildings on Eramosa 6th and 7th Lines and those at the north end of Nassagaweya 5th line! Nearly half the population of Rockwood lives within 2 kilometers of the site.
After considerable study, CRC opposes the development of this quarry. It acknowledges that the Province of Ontario needs supplies of reasonably priced aggregates to support development of infrastructure, housing, buildings and other construction needs BUT not, as provincial legislation and policy indicate, at any cost. Hence CRC’s mission regarding the Hidden Quarry application, is to ensure, with reference to provincial and County policies, that no unacceptable negative impacts on the environment, health and safety, water quality and quantity, residences and other structures, community economy, private property values, and general quality of life in Guelph-Eramosa Township and Halton Region occur as a result of the operation of this quarry. After three years of intensive study, CRC is unable to conceive of conditions that would prevent some or all of these factors being significantly impacted in a negative way, and therefore we oppose the development of this quarry.
CRC has thoroughly and critically assessed the reports submitted by the applicant in support of the application as well as those submitted by commenting agencies and peer reviewers. We have retained the services of independent experts to assess a number of important issues and have filed reports and made presentations to Councils for Wellington County, Grand River Conservation Authority, Guelph Eramosa Township, Halton Region, Milton and Halton Hills. We have substantive concerns about:
Ground and surface water in the aquifer and the surface stream that flow through the site, and both upstream and downstream wells, as well as Rockwood’s municipal wells;
The natural environment including species at risk with on-site or nearby habitat, and a vibrant brook trout habitat in the cold-water stream into which surface water from the site flows;
The unprecedented below water blasting in a fragile, karst geology proposed by the applicant and what we have determined to be unacceptable ground vibration and the risk of fly-rock ejection on to the abutting Highway 7 and nearby buildings;
Impacts on many cultural heritage buildings within 1000 metres from blasting vibration;
Air quality degradation due to dust from aggregate crushing on site and truck traffic;
Traffic impact on 6th Line Eramosa, Highway 7 to the east of the site through downtown Acton, and Regional Road 25 along the applicant’s proposed haul route, and quite possibly elsewhere including the Nassagaweya Lines to the south and Highway 7 west through Rockwood should markets arise in the future to the west (the Highway 7 project between Guelph and Kitchener being a case in point);
Noise from blasting, crushing, sorting and loading, and haulage;
Impacts of the foregoing factors on adjacent agricultural operations which include livestock, horse, crop and mushroom growing operations;
Visual impact as the current woodlot is replaced by a 30-metre deep pit and perimeters are lined with earth berms, and the heritage landscape on 6th Line is transformed into a heavy industrial environment;
Economic impact on Guelph-Eramosa Township and Halton Region due to expected losses in property values and concomitant loss of tax assessment, costs for road maintenance and emergency services, and;
Social impacts related to quality of life and the attractiveness of this region to business and commerce.
CRC has gained status as a party to the case, alongside Halton Hills and Halton Region. CRC has retained legal counsel, Mr. Chris Barnett of DLA Piper in Toronto. Mr. Barnett has significant experience in municipal law, including aggregate cases and OMB hearings, and represented the Town of Caledon in the successful fight against the James Dick Construction Ltd. Rockfort Quarry application. CRC has identified potential expert witnesses to testify on our behalf, and is actively raising funds to cover legal and expert witness costs.
Can we win at the OMB and what are the odds of success in preventing the Hidden Quarry from proceeding?
Yes and the odds are pretty good. There are solid legal arguments against it, and a huge ground swell of opposition from area residents and politicians alike. That is because of the many problems it will cause including potential drinking water, air and noise pollution, truck traffic hazards, property devaluation, blasting dangers, and unnecessary environmental degradation.nCRC has hired one of if not the best legal team in Ontario to present its case. It’s led by Mr. Chris Barnett of DLA Piper in Toronto who represented the Town of Caledon in the successful OMB case against the James Dick Construction Ltd. (JDCL) Rockfort Quarry application in Caledon.nIn addition to CRC’s legal fight against it, the Guelph Eramosa Township (GET) Council has hired an independent legal team to fight it. And on top of that Halton Region has its legal team fighting it too.nWe have the best interests of our community at heart while James Dick is motivated by profit. With so many sound reasons for being against it, it is reasonable to be optimistic that the OMB will also recognize that this quarry is bad for the area and turn it down.
CRC will be a Party at the OMB and plans to provide testimony to the new OMB Hearing on a number of critical issues related to potential negative impacts were the quarry to be approved. Our choices will be those for which our testimony will be the most effective and manageable. In preparing for the 2016 OMB Hearing (now postponed), our experts covered Hydrology, Hydrogeology, Blasting, Planning and Aquatic Ecology.
CRC raises funds in a variety ways, and when possible with fun! Events have included golf tournaments, garage sales, teas, a gala 2016 event (An Intimate Evening with the Nylons), bike and hike events, participation in the community’s Rockwood Mushroom Fest, and others. By means of a direct telephone call campaign and our general communications, we invite community residents to support us financially with monthly or one-time donations that are within their means. We also have paypal activated on the CRC website for credit card donations. We are gratified that there are a few benefactors who have continued to support CRC with sizeable donations, and we continue to seek out large gifts by presenting what we think is a compelling case for support.
Will the new Official Plan ‘Greenlands’ designation for the proposed Hidden Quarry stop the project?
Not necessarily. The Greenlands designation in the Wellington County’s Official Plan recognizes the 40-year-old, 33.5 hectare conifer plantation and the three 100-year-old small mature stands of less than 2 hectares each.
The Official Plan states “The Greenlands System will be maintained or enhanced. Activities which diminish or degrade the essential functions of the Greenlands System will be prohibited”.
However, The Greenlands policies do permit consideration of aggregate extraction subject to more detailed policy considerations, but those more detailed policy considerations must be made in the context of the planning approach for the Greenlands System contained with the O.P. which state that “Wellington County is a good place to live, (that) this Plan intends to keep it that way”; and that “the people of County enjoy clean air, clean water, healthy communities, natural heritage, cultural heritage, public health and public safety.”
CRC believes that the Greenlands are essential to the protection of the Paris Galt Moraine water re-charge system and to sequestration of CO2.
Isn’t it true that the Hidden Quarry will meet a significant, un-met demand for aggregate that is close to market?
No, it isn’t true. There is no question that the Hidden Quarry is relatively close to the proposed markets in the GTA. However, there is evidence to suggest that Ontario has licensed aggregate extraction capacity that exceeds consumption by a several times factor, and that in Wellington County itself, extraction rates are typically about 20% of licensed capacity. There is also an expanded quarry operation in Acton, presumably supplying the same nearby markets, albeit owned by a competitor to the Hidden Quarry applicant. We are not persuaded that there is a need for another aggregate operation in this area.
Where does the quarry application stand, and how will a decision be made on whether or not it will proceed?
There are two parallel matters in process: the re-zoning of the site from agricultural to industrial-extractive, which falls within the jurisdiction of Guelph-Eramosa Township, and an aggregate extraction licence, which must be issued by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. The applicant applied to have the re-zoning application referred to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) for the reason that GET had not rendered a decision on the application by a certain deadline. The re-zoning application and the licence application were then combined into the one OMB case. The case came before the OMB in September 2016, but was adjourned indefinitely because of a legal technicality. Since then the applicant has had to re-apply to both Township and Wellington County for re-zoning. It is highly likely that the application will once again be appealed to the OMB which will make the decision on both applications after hearing submissions and evidence by the applicant and other parties, including CRC. It is not yet known when the next OMB Hearing will take place.
No, CRC is but one of three parties opposing the quarry. Guelph-Eramosa Township Council passed a resolution stating that it opposes the quarry application in its present form. The Town of Halton Hills, the Town of Milton, and the Region of Halton are all registered objectors to the application. Halton Region and Halton Hills will be parties at the OMB proceedings, with Halton Region representing the interests of both Halton Hills and Milton as well.
CRC has a long list of concerns and issues; will CRC be focusing on all of them at the OMB hearings?
CRC’s focus will be determined in due course in consultation with our legal counsel and in view of the issues being addressed by the other parties. It is likely that CRC will select specific issues from our list of concerns for which we are able to provide compelling testimony and for which our costs can be managed. Five experts engaged by CRC as witnesses in the (now adjourned) 2016 OMB Hearing were ready to speak to hydrology, hydrogeology, blasting, planning and aquatic habitat. Ata minimum CRC expects to retain their services again for the next, expected, OMB Hearing.
To do all that we would like to do at the OMB, it will cost over $500,000 which will go towards paying legal expenses and expert witnesses. The postponement of the OMB Hearing will add to these costs since it will be, in effect, a completely new start from the beginning. It’s a big number but we had already raised enough to proceed with the 2016 OMB Hearing, with donations ranging from $20 up to 5 figures (Surprised? If you consider house prices and the drop in quality of life and property values if the quarry goes ahead, large donations are a good investment). The municipalities of Milton, Halton Hills and Guelph Eramosa also made significant donations to CRC. Sharing the cost is one of the advantages of working together in the CRC. Fund raising continues and it is going well but we do need everyone to contribute what they can. Click here to Donate!
Other Parties to the 2016 OMB Hearing were Guelph Eramosa Township, Halton Hills and Halton Region. Once inside the OMB process sharing of information among the parties is carried out through our lawyers, who are best positioned to ensure that proper and legally sound protocol is followed. As we prepare for the next OMB Hearing, we are once again presenting information directly to municipalities and agencies to raise our concerns as they consider the new zoning application.
Why is CRC taking on the cost of fighting at the OMB when the local Councils are also fighting it?
It is essential for the residents to have a direct voice at the OMB for many reasons, most notably: the OMB recognizes and appreciates direct involvement by residents as it confirms grassroots involvement, and our elected officials recognize and appreciate that their residents are involved and support them in their efforts and expenditures toward protecting us all. We also recognize that the municipalities may have political pressures–not the least being the significant financial burden being forced upon them by the OMB process–that necessitates a more conciliatory position than they would otherwise choose. CRC is constrained by the financial demand for sure, but it is clear that the wish of the community at large is that all that we value here be vigorously defended, and that is the role CRC is being called to play. Only CRC represents residents from all three affected municipalities. Please DONATE, thank you.
You may attend and observe the OMB hearings which are open to the public. In fact, CRC is encouraging residents to attend as observers in large numbers to communicate just how widespread our concerns are about this application. However you can only make a presentation to the Board if you have been registered as an official “Participant.” Nine resident-participants prepared statements for the 2016 OMB Hearing, covering a variety of issues of concern. CRC coordinated the participants to prevent duplication of messages, and will do so again. Participants do not need legal representation, but are required to submit a written Participant Statement. Their input does matter, and when a significant number of residents take the time to get involved directly their combined voice gets a good deal of consideration. It also supports the legal cases being presented by CRC, GET and Halton Region. CRC will be a “Party” at the second OMB. A “Party” at the hearing must put forth legal arguments for its objections. This is a very expensive process involving lawyers and expert witnesses, approximately $400,000 (if you have not please Donate). All told it makes for a very strong case against the quarry at the OMB. (see Can we win…)
No. The applicant, JDCL, has re-applied for a zoning amendment to Guelph Eramosa Township. At the same time, the company is applying to Wellington County requesting an amendment to the Official Plan. At the time of the first application the County’s Official Plan did not review zoning amendments, but in 2015 the County approved a revised plan which included amendments to the Official Plan as well. The application for a licence to operate a quarry, submitted to the Ministry of Natural Resources, is still deemed complete, and will be adjudicated at the Ontario Muncipal Board along with the expected re-zoning application appeal by JDCL.