Task force says provincial aggregate policy needs clarity

 

NDACT 26d33   ContentPhoto by Alexandra Heck
Tom Eisenhauer, CEO and President of Bonnefield Financial gave a presentation on his company's progress rehabilitating the farms which would have been home to the Melancthon Mega Quarry.

The North Dufferin Agricultural Task force stopped the Mega Quarry nearly four years ago and the group hopes to ensure they never have to protest against an aggregate application again.

During NDACT’s annual general meeting on July 28, members and local residents spoke about their next steps in the ongoing aggregate battle, which include submitting public comments to the provincial government.

Presentations were made at the meeting by Janet Horner, Mulmur Councillor and Niagara Escarpment Commission representative; Victor Doyle, a planner with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing; and Tom Eisenhauer, chief executive officer of Bonnefield Financial Group.

Last spring, NDACT submitted recommendations to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing as well as the Ministry of Natural Resources, outlining the changes they would like to see in the provincial environmental protection plans.

This was in response to a Coordinated Land Use Planning Review to make changes to protected land in the Greenbelt, Golden Horseshoe, Oak Ridges Moraine, as well as the Niagara Escarpment.

“NDACT supports tighter protections for agricultural lands within all four provincial plans,” the group wrote in their submission to the provincial government.

They requested that “aggregate extraction should not be allowed on any Class 1 farmland within the provincial plans.”

They also suggested that where aggregate extraction is taking place, it should not go below the water table.

“The proposed Highland Mega Quarry would have plunged 200 feet below the water table, devastating a massive aquifer and impacting water for up to 1,000,000 people downstream,” they wrote.

Now, the government is accepting feedback from the public in response to the planning review.

NDACT hopes to rally support for greater protection of local farmland by encouraging residents to submit their comments.

Since the Stop the Quarry movement in 2012, municipalities in Dufferin have continuously faced applications for aggregate extraction.

Currently, residents in East Garafraxa are concerned about a proposed aggregate operation in their area, while a group called Protect Mono is protesting plans for a quarry in their region.

“This highlights to me the need for a set of guidelines,” said Shirley Boxem, chairperson of NDACT.

She wants to see a provincial policy that clearly states where you can and can’t take aggregate.

“One of the absolute crimes,” she said, “is that a small group of citizens have to get together and raise tens of thousands of dollars to battle what is usually, lets say often to be on the safe side, an inappropriate application. That is plain wrong,” she said.

By Alexandra  Heck
Published in the Orangeville Banner, Aug 4, 2016