Yes, quarries are permitted on both Greenlands and in the Greenbelt if they meet certain criteria. In the case of Wellington County designated ‘Greenlands’, “it is essential that extraction be carried out with as little social and environmental cost as practical. Provincial standards, guidelines and regulations will be used to assist in minimizing impacts.” The County Official Plan has a list of criteria which must be taken into consideration.
In the case of the Greenbelt, aggregate extraction is also permitted, but again, there is a list of criteria which must be considered.
In both cases there are underlying assumptions that aggregate supply is urgent and that mitigation and rehabilitation can repair the damage done to the environment, for both of which they are compelling counter-arguments.
Greenlands is the term used in Wellington County’s Official Plan (and Ontario planning in general) to define and identify woodland areas including both old growth forest and plantations.
The Greenbelt is a permanently protected area of green space, farmland, forests, wetlands, and watersheds, surrounding a significant portion of Canada’s most populated and fastest-growing area—the Golden Horseshoe. Created by legislation passed by the Government of Ontario in 2005, the Greenbelt is considered a major step in the prevention of urban development and sprawl on environmentally sensitive land in the province. At over 1.8 million acres (7300 km²), the Greenbelt is one of the largest and most successful greenbelts in the world.
With the proposed Hidden Quarry property zoned Greenlands, why does JDCL still want to destroy this environmentally sensitive land?
JDCL argues that aggregate supply is paramount, that a ‘close to market’ source trumps all concerns, and that they will rehabilitate the site when extraction is complete. Their rehabilitation plan attempts to show that the effects of mining will not be detrimental to the environment. The plan provides for some tree planting, but the significant result will be two lakes deep in the bedrock in what is now a valuable water recharge area in the Paris Galt Moraine which produces clear, cold water an increasingly rare commodity in southern Ontario. The fact that excavation would break into the ground water system means that the new lakes would be ‘surface water’ and that the local ‘groundwater’ system would be permanently subject to surface water pollutants.
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.