NDACT calls for united front on Food and Water First

The North Dufferin Agricultural and Community Task Force (NDACT) held its annual general meeting for approximately 40 members on July 10th in Horning’s Mills. Carl Cosack Chair of the taskforce brought members up to date on NDACT activities from the past year, stressing the need for a continued, united front on the Food and Water First mandate to protect prime farmland and source water. Shirley Boxem, Vice Chair spoke to the members about the urgency in “keeping this issue at the forefront, as the legislative rules have not changed and the very same mega quarry application could be applied for today.”


Mega-Quarry Peer Review

Should anyone be surprised?

Recently, a peer review study of the Melancthon mega-quarry was released. Commissioned by the Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority in response to the application by The Highland Companies to blast a huge hole into the prime farmland of Melancthon Township, the report by SLR Consulting (Canada) Ltd. would likely have remained unread, in a dead-file cabinet somewhere, if not for the efforts of someone (I know not who) in the NVCA.

With the application withdrawn by The Highland Companies, there would not seem to be any reason to release this report.  Some would say that there would little to gain.

The truth is, there are some huge reasons for the release and understanding by the public of this report. The report results, and the lessons to be learned, should be known by all those concerned about the stewardship of our farmland, and all those involved in the massive effort to stop this travesty.


The County Plan

The GTA West Corridor plan advances and is now in Stage 2, which means that the general areas for a pair of new divided highways has been chosen.

The area is the rural part of Caledon Township.  The Caledon and Peel Councils are opposed to any major highways through prime agricultural land.  I understand that the Ontario government is adamant, though receptive to “consultations.”

In April a professor of the University of Guelph spoke to a “Food and Water First” meeting, the members of which aim to preserve agricultural land for agriculture rather than development, gravel pits, etc.

According to “In The Hills” magazine, Professor Rene van Acker showed that no new workable land is available or can be produced by man, that human life is totally dependent on food and water and that, therefore, agricultural land is far too valuable to be wasted on housing developments, highways, gravel pits, etc.

Southern Ontario contains over half of the arable land in Canada.


Aggregate Issues Dominated May 29th Dufferin Caledon All Candidates Meeting

Forget power plant scandals, gridlock and failed budgets. If you ask Dufferin County, the upcoming provincial election is about aggregate.

At the first two all-candidate debates for Dufferin-Caledon, pits and quarries has dominated the line of question posed to the four candidates vying to become the riding’s next MPP.

Melancthon Coun. Nanci Malek posed the first question on the management of Ontario’s pits and quarries during the second debate hosted by the Greater Dufferin Area Chamber of Commerce (GDACC) at Glenbrook Elementary School in Shelburne on Thursday (May 29).

Malek asked why the province has failed to report on the amount of aggregate exported outside of Ontario since 2000.

“We have had a Liberal government in for 11 years,” said PC incumbent Sylvia Jones.

Liberal candidate Bobbie Daid told Jones she was the voice at the table for the riding.

“I’d be happy to raise this in caucus and work with the community,” Daid said. “I’ve already talked to the premier. I’ve told her we have a problem with aggregate.”

Green Party candidate Karen Wallace also blamed Jones for a lack of local action at Queen’s Park.

“Sylvia you’re our MPP and this is a huge issue in our riding,” Wallace said. “This should be something that you’re in front of the media and in front of the house demanding.”

NDP candidate Rehya Yazbek noted transparency is vital for government.

“There hasn’t been any reporting by the Liberals and we haven’t had our own MPP stand up for it,” Yazbek said.

While aggregate issues ruled the meeting, transparency in government became a recurring theme.

Carl Cosack, chair of the North Dufferin Agricultural and Community Taskforce (NDACT) asked Jones when she found out about the once-proposed Melancthon mega-quarry and if she ever talked to lobbyists about The Highland Companies’ plan.

“In 2008, this was referred to as the Melancthon quarry,” Cosack said.

Jones noted endless rumours were circulating when Highlands purchased about 2,300 acres in the north end of the county.

“I’ve met with hundreds of people about hundreds of issues,” Jones said. “It in no way means I endorse what the issue is. This form of questioning is beneath you.”

The Green candidate said if she had heard rumours, she would be meeting with her constituents.

“Instead she was with her Tory friends,” Wallace said. “I find it insulting that you didn’t help your community. To this day, you’ve never made a public statement about that.”

Daid added “it’s clear” the riding needs an MPP that has dialogue with the government.

“I’m listening to your needs and they’re strong and they’re loud,” Daid said. “We’ve been this loud and our member hasn’t heard over the last seven years, we’ve made a mistake at the ballot box.”

If lobbyists at Queen’s Park discussed the quarry plan, residents should have known, Yazbek said.

“MPPs have to listen and hear the people of their community, not protecting corporations,” she said.

The candidates were also asked who donates to their campaigns and if corporate or union contributions would translate into future favours.

Wallace said the Dufferin Caledon Green Party does not accept corporate donations.

“We’re a grass roots organizations. Feel free to write your personal cheques on the way out the door,” Wallace said.

Daid said she has yet to receive a corporate donation.

“It is unfortunately very expensive you do need a lot of love money,” Daid said.

Yazbek told the crowd she looked into donations made in the 2001 election. She found the Liberals spent about $60,000 while Jones campaign cost upwards of $70,000.

“It was quite shocking because I plan to spend around $5,000. I don’t even know how you can spend that much,” Yazbek said, adding her employer has contributed $1,300 to her campaign.

Jones explained there is no limit to what a provincial candidate is allowed to spend on a campaign.

“There are no strings attached to those donations,” Jones said.

She urged those interested in who contributed to her campaign to visit the Elections Ontario website.

“I’ve been the member since 2007,” Jones said. “I’m not going to be able to cover it in two minutes.”

At the end of the two-hour debate, the audience enthusiastically begged for the candidates to answer more questions.

“Unfortunately, some of the candidates have to leave,” said moderator Ron Munro.

The Caledon Chamber of Commerce hosts the next debate for Dufferin-Caledon on Thursday (June 5) at James Bolton Public School in Bolton at 7 pm.

By Bill Tremblay
Published in the Orangeville Banner, May 30, 2014


Aggregate, hydro costs rule Orangeville debate

 MPP hopefuls  
Chris Halliday (Left to right) Green Party candidate Karren Wallace, Progressive Conservative candidate Sylvia Jones, NDP candidate Rehya Yazbek and Liberal candidate Bobbie Daid squared off in a provincial election debate in Orangeville on Tuesday (May 27

Aggregate issues hijacking a provincial election debate in Orangeville?

That would be a given in Shelburne, but revisiting the mega-quarry fight and new threats were the pièce de résistance at the first of two election debates hosted by the Greater Dufferin Area Chamber of Commerce (GDACC) on Tuesday (May 27).

Question after question about the Aggregate Resources Act (ARA), a piece of provincial legislation perceived to be flawed by many of those in attendance, were put to those vying for the MPP seat in Dufferin-Caledon.