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 Wednesday, 03 December 2014 16:07
- Hits: 65
Food & Water First is the legacy of the Stop the Mega Quarry campaign that began in Dufferin County northwest of Toronto in 2006. The Highland Companies – a front company for a $27-billion Boston hedge fund – bought 6,500-acres of Class 1 farmland and stated it wanted to become the largest potato producer in Ontario. But in 2011, it filed an application for the largest quarry in Canadian history on the best soil in the province and at the headwaters of five river systems. The Mega Quarry would have spanned 2,300-acres and plunged 200-feet below the water table. It would have destroyed rare food-producing land and impacted water resources for up to one million people downstream.
Farmers, chefs, First Nations, city-dwellers, environmentalists and artists formed a remarkable alliance. Culinary protests were held to raise awareness about the vital farmland and water resources at risk. Foodstock in Dufferin County 2011 (28,000 people), Soupstock in Toronto 2012 (40,000 people). In November 2012, one month after Soupstock, Highland withdrew its mega quarry application. Then, in July 2013, a Canadian investment firm, Bonnefield Financial, purchased all 6,500-acres from Highland. It has leased the land to local farmers ensuring the fields remain in food production.
However, the campaign for farmland and water protection continues. The Mega Quarry fight exposed many flaws in current land-use policies. Ontario’s prime farmland and source water regions remain vulnerable to sprawl and aggregate operations even though they’re critical to our food security and Ontario’s $34-billion agri-food sector, the largest in Canada. We believe our prime farmland and water should be protected in perpetuity, not threatened or squandered in perpetuity. We believe it’s time to put Food & Water First.
Shirley Boxem, NDACT Chair
- Published on Sunday, 16 November 2014 18:49
- Hits: 518
Call to Action!
Two years ago this month (Nov. 21st), the proposed Highland Mega Quarry was defeated and the Food & Water First movement was born. Let’s celebrate by urging the Liberal government to move immediately on protecting Ontario’s rare farmland. Urban sprawl, aggregate operations and other non-farming development are devouring the province’s prime farmland at an unsustainable rate. It’s time to preserve the best of this rare agricultural soil in perpetuity for our food and economic security.
Big changes in legislation and land-use policies start with small steps. So, we’re asking the Ontario government to begin this process by introducing a 10-year moratorium on any new rezoning applications impacting Class 1 farmland. Let’s take the time to review and revise existing policies. Let’s make sure good things grow in Ontario for generations to come.
Below is a sample letter to be sent to Premier Kathleen Wynne and several of her cabinet ministers. The Opposition Leaders should also be contacted. Please add your own thoughts or experiences to the letter. Let us know when you receive a response!