In 2011, The Highland Companies, filed an application with the province for the largest quarry in Canadian history on the best farmland in Ontario and at the headwaters of five river systems. The mega Quarry would have sprawled across 2,316 acres and would have plunged 200 feet below the water table on a 15,000 acre plateau of Class 1 farmland. The massive open-pit limestone quarry would have put rare agricultural soil and precious water resources at risk in Melancthon Township. A large and diverse group of rural and urban residents launched a Stop the Mega Quarry movement. It was a success.
On November 21, 2012, The Highland Companies announced it was withdrawing its Mega Quarry application and plans for a rail corridor through Dufferin County to Owen Sound. However, the fate of the land and water was unknown. Highland Companies still owned 6,500 acres of Class 1 farmland and could re-apply at any time.
Then on July 16, 2013, Bonnefield Financial, an investment firm specializing in acquiring farmland, bought all of Highland's land. Bonnefield's president, Tom Eisenhauser, announced the fields will continue to be farmed. After many years of uncertainty, it seems the best agricultural soil in the province and its bounty are safe for the time being.
While the Melancthon fields may be secure, Ontario's prime farmland and source water regions remain vulnerable. The present Provincial Policy Statement and Aggregate Resources Act still allow non-farming development on land and water that sustain us. Until legislation is changed, these vital resources are still at risk.
We must now ensure that our source waters and prime agricultural lands are protected, and not at risk of being destroyed.....thus the beginning of our:
Food & Water First campaign, round 2 of 2.
- Published on Friday, 31 March 2017 13:01
- Hits: 89
By Marni Walsh
Orangeville Citizen, March 30, 2017
The North Dufferin Agricultural and Community Taskforce (NDACT) is asking Ontarians to focus on food and water issues as the politicians begin to gear up for the 2018 provincial election.
The task force is launching a campaign to make sure all politicians seeking election “make the preservation of our valuable farmland and source waters a #1 election priority.”
Alia Jalbert, the new Chair of NDACT and its legacy movement Food & Water First, says, “If there is one thing that has been a human characteristic throughout history, it is ingenuity; the easy path, in many ways, is to take over nice, cleared land for developments, but I am certain, as witnessed in Europe where there is much more reluctance to convert farmland into suburbs, that when that route is removed other ideas will emerge.”
Ms. Jalbert says the most imminent threat to Ontario Farmland, and to Dufferin-Caledon specifically, is “development, in a variety of shapes, outside of already established communities – housing developments, aggregate extraction, and other industrial uses of agricultural land.”
She suggests residents press politicians on questions that focus on the preservation of food and water such as: “What to you consider sustainable growth? Without any political action, how do you see the current trend (virtually no farmland from Markham to Toronto any more) ever ending? What options are there for growth if farmland and environmentally sensitive land are removed from the growth equation?”
Provincial improvements have been made in recent years, largely due to organizations like NDACT working hard to keep preservation and protection issues in the political forefront.