OMB rules against Hunder gravel pit

Keri Martin Vrbanac is ecstatic.

Martin Vrbanac, president of the Conestogo Winterbourne Residents Association, was still flying high nearly a week after finding out that the Ontario Municipal Board has ruled against the proposed Hunder gravel pit.

The battle against the gravel pit, which took seven years of effort from the residents’ association, ended abruptly last week with the OMB ruling, although the applicant, Bob Hunsberger, still has the chance to appeal.

“We are thrilled,” said Martin Vrbanac, when contacted by phone. “Absolutely thrilled. It was the longest seven years of my life.”
Martin Vrbanac became involved a few short days after her youngest child was born, when she received an email about the proposed pit, which would be located between the communities of Conestogo and Winterbourne.

The proposal, if approved, would permit an above groundwater table aggregate operation on an 88.3 hectare parcel of land, with the extraction taking up 62.1 hectares. The proposal also included a plan to recycle concrete and asphalt as an accessory use on the lands on Hunsberger Road.

A few residents decided to get together to talk about what could be done about the proposal, including Martin Vrbanac.

She recalls her husband, John, telling her that she didn’t have enough time to get involved, and that she should quit the group before it became really active. By the time she left the meeting, however, she had been chosen president of the residents’ group.
She didn’t realize what she was getting into.
“We had no idea,” said Martin Vrbanac. “It was very time-consuming.
“We had endless hours of meetings, planning, meeting with lawyers, meeting with the township, and meeting with the community,” said Martin Vrbanac. “It was actually a relief when it went to the OMB. Now we would finally get a decision.”

The decision rendered by OMB vice-chairman Susan de Avellar Schiller, looked at a number of issues, including the proximity of the gravel pit to the neighbouring residential areas, the cumulative impact from both the proposed Hunder pit and the already approved Jigs Hollow pit, as well as the loss of prime agricultural land that would come as a result of the gravel pit.

Township mayor Todd Cowan felt that these were important factors in the overall decision against the Hunder pit.
“The board found that the combined impact of both (pits) would be a negative impact,” said Cowan. “There has to be some cumulative impact.”

Cowan said he was thrilled at the decision rendered by the OMB, and he pointed to other successes the township has enjoyed in other gravel pit applications of concern.

For instance, the Capital Paving application for the community of West Montrose was withdrawn, after the township embarked on a number of measures to protect the West Montrose community, including the West Montrose Cultural Heritage Landscape.

Cowan said the CHL, once the designation is official, will make it nearly impossible for a gravel pit to set up near the community.
“This will close the door firmly on any type of gravel pit operation in West Montrose.”

Cowan noted that these measures introduced by the township, along with a new, higher fee for processing gravel pit applications, were simply a means of protecting the township from aggregate operations that are not appropriate.

“Our infrastructure is in need of gravel for roads and bridges,” acknowledged Cowan. “We’re just saying we have to have mineral aggregate operations where they should be, not in someone’s backyard.”

Hunder Developments has until May 14 to appeal the decision of the OMB. Until then, residents and the township are being cautiously optimistic.
“It’s a great feeling, it really is,” said Martin Vrbanac. “Even if it is appealed and they win, this is still a victory.”

By Gail Martin
Posted on, Apr. 25, 2014


The decision rendered by OMB vice-chairman Susan de Avellar Schiller, looked at a number of issues, including the proximity of the gravel pit to the neighbouring residential areas, the cumulative impact from both the proposed Hunder pit and the already approved Jigs Hollow pit, as well as the loss of prime agricultural land that would come as a result of the gravel pit.

  Read official OMB decision.

Recycled Aggregate Act - March 27, 2014

The Provincial government will soon be reviewing certain planning documents, such as the Niagara Escarpment legislation and plan, the Oak Ridges Moraine legislation, the Greenbelt plan and others.

The Peel Federation of Agriculture (PFA) wants to know how these documents are affecting rural and agricultural development, and they want to hear from both members and non-members. Read more.

  •        Attached is Sylvia Jones Recycled Aggregate Act Committee Hansard.  The part hi-lited in yellow is interesting, Bob Shapton’s deputation and her response.  Starts on page 11.

Ten farms in Greater Lehigh Valley are saved in preservation program

The 25-year-old farmland preservation program run by the state of Pennsylvania has done it again. It has preserved another 28 farms by enabling state, county and local governments to buy conservation easements from the owners of great farmland. As the Pennsylvania Agriculture Secretary explained: "Together we're preserving agriculture, the cornerstone of Pennsylvania's economy."

Ontario's agri-food sector is the largest in Canada, pumping $34-billion into the economy each year. Yet there is no program in place to preserve the farmland it depends on. Perhaps it's time the Ontario government takes a closer look at the Pennsylvania success story.

Read more.

Correction Regarding Budget Priorities

Dear members and supporters of NDACT:

I want to be absolutely clear that one of the Green Party’s top priorities is to protect Ontario’s class 1 farmland and source water regions.

I’m proud to be Ontario’s first and only provincial party leader to sign the Food and Water First pledge (at a news conference on May 9, 2013).

I have and will continue to challenge the other party leaders to sign the Food and Water First pledge. I believe this is a pledge that all parties can and should support.

I recently made a mistake in an email about the Green Party’s 2014 budget priorities. I created confusion by using the header Food and Water First while writing about fiscal tools the province can use to protect natural resources. The legislation to protect prime farmland and source water regions is out of the scope of the budget. And I should not have used “Putting Food and Water First” in this context.

I apologize for my mistake.

I want to thank NDACT for your leadership in defeating the Mega Quarry and putting food and water on the political agenda. I’m honoured to have the opportunity to support your work in creating a lasting legacy for Ontario.


Mike Schreiner


Green Party of Ontario

2014 Provincial Policy Statement is Released

The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing Announce:

The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing is pleased to announce the release today of the new Provincial Policy Statement, 2014 (PPS, 2014).

The new PPS, 2014 comes into effect on April 30, 2014 and contains the province’s policies concerning land use planning for Ontario. It provides a strong and clear foundation for land use planning and development in Ontario. It is the cornerstone of Ontario’s land use planning system, as all planning decisions are required to be consistent with these policies.

The new policies give better direction for supporting healthy active communities, strong economies and the responsible management of resources in a clean and healthy environment.

The PPS, 2014 recognizes that different regions of the province face different challenges and provides clear direction and additional flexibility to help all communities prosper, including northern and rural communities.

We have also prepared two complementary draft documents for discussion. These highlight the policies in the PPS, 2014 that affect planning in Northern Ontario and rural Ontario, particularly those that have been added or revised since the Provincial Policy Statement, 2005. The discussion period for these draft documents ends April 25, 2014.

The PPS, 2014 and the draft Northern and Rural primers are available for download at