- Published on Monday, 02 December 2013 22:42
- Hits: 693
More than one hundred area residents during Saturday's Concerned Citizens of Brant meeting at the Paris Fairgrounds were asked if a Foodstock is in their future.
Carl Cosack of the North Dufferin Agriculture and Community Task Force charged those opposed to a gravel pit being planned north of Paris to take matters into their own hands.
"The community of Brant has to realize that the time to protect your water is not someday and it is not a battle to be fought by someone," Cosack said. "The time is now and it is going to be done by you."
Cosack's NDACT fought a highly publicized battle against plans for a 930-hectare quarry in Melancthon Township north of Orangeville last year.
The CCOB is trying to halt Dufferin Aggregates' plan for a 230-hectare pit along Watts Pond Road, east of Pinehurst Road. The group invited Cosack, as well as other guest speakers, to share their wisdom on Saturday.
Cosack told the story about how a small group of concerned citizens managed to stop an enormous hedge-fund conglomerate from building the "mega quarry" on farmland.
To do so, NDACT held an event called Foodstock, organized by professional chefs, that drew benefit performances by musicians. Foodstock put the NDACT fight on the map in 2011, when 28,000 people made their way to the Melancthon fields 100 kilometres north of Toronto to raise money and awareness of the fight against the quarry.
That was followed in 2012 by Soupstock, a similar event held in downtown Toronto, which Cosack cites as the turning of the tide in the mega quarry fight.
"That sent the message that following the government and environmental regulations isn't enough," Cosack said. "These aggregate companies need a social license. They need to seek that approval from you."
Toronto-Danforth NDP MP Craig Scott was a part of the mega quarry fight and was also present at Saturday's CCOB meeting as a guest speaker.
"Without citizen organizing and solidarity, you will always have an uphill struggle in these fights," Scott said. "When we had (Soupstock), thousands and thousands of people showed up to stop the pit and the company got the message."
Ron Norris, co-chair of the CCOB, pressed those in attendance to continue to help in any way they can as their fight against the pit continues. But he said those already committed to the cause need to do more to grow the CCOB's numbers. "It is not the great actions of a few people that will win this," Norris said. "It is the little efforts of a lot of people that will win this battle."
The speakers seemed to get the message across, as those in attendance erupted in applause several times and gave Cosack a standing ovation following his speech.
Norris urged everyone to support the CCOB by visiting their website at www.ccob.ca, buying a fundraising calendar or volunteering a few hours of their time. Dufferin Aggregates also has a website, www.dufferinparispit.com, dedicated to the proposed Paris pit where the company outlines its case for the pit and puts forth answers to many of the concerns raised by the CCOB.
Dufferin, which has all necessary licenses to move forward with the pit, is planning on having the site operational in late 2014 or early 2015.
By Sean Allen
Published in the Brant News, Dec. 2, 2013
- Published on Monday, 02 December 2013 16:28
- Hits: 752
PARIS — More than 100 people gathered at a public “Stop the Pit” meeting held Saturday in Paris where a lineup of guest speakers inspired attendees in their fight to maintain the integrity of the area's water supply in the face of an aggregate company's plan to open a gravel pit north of town.
“This will be a long journey. The stakes are huge,” said Concerned Citizens of Brant (CCOB) chairman Ron Norris.
“I have no doubt we can win this if we want to (but) it will take the little efforts of a lot of people to win the battle,” he said.
The CCOB contends that Dufferin Aggregates should not be allowed to open the pit, on the strength of a 40-year-old licence, because it poses a risk to the community's water supply from an aquifer.
Dufferin maintains that its licence, granted in 1974, is in order and that it is gaining necessary permits while following the latest environmental regulations and public processes. The company has pointed out that the provincial environment and natural resources ministries have rejected repeated demands to have the licence revoked or reviewed.
The Paris gathering also heard from guest Carl Cosack, chairman of the North Dufferin Agriculture and Community Taskforce, whose grassroots group successfully faced down an aggregate company's bid to establish a megapit Melancthon quarry.
Cosack detailed some of his community's wide-ranging efforts to promote its agricultural and natural blessings to gain support not only from local residents, but to encourage engagement from a wider and broader section of Ontario. These fundraising and awareness-building efforts included hosting events such as a walk, run and bikeathon, a book of photographs celebrating the natural beauty of Melancthon township, Foodstock and Soupstock.
“If we can do this, you can. Don't wait for someone else to do it for you,” Cosack said.
Also speaking at Saturday's event was Craig Scott, NDP MP for Toronto-Danforth, who called on the federal government to heed concerns of Paris and Brant County residents over the proposed 600-acre pit.
“It's important that food and water security be fought for and recognized,” he said, emphasizing the need for community mobilization and solidarity of purpose.
“This quarry project poses environmental risks and these citizens are standing up demanding their elected officials listen," Scott said.
Scott was previously active in citizen opposition to the proposed Melancthon quarry project north of Toronto, during which he encouraged Toronto residents to work hand in hand with their rural neighbours to protect prime farmland and drinking water. The campaign succeeded a year ago when the application for a quarry was dropped.
"The important victory in Melancthon shows what can be achieved when residents work together,” Scott said. "I’m proud to stand with the citizens of Brant and the local region who are fighting to protect this area too.”
After the presentations concluded, Brant Mayor Ron Eddy echoed his community's concerns about the area's water supply.
“Taking gravel is one thing. Extracting below the water table is my big concern,” said Eddy, adding that he appreciates the enthusiasm and determination shown by members of CCOB.
By Heather Ibbotson
Published in the Brantford Expositor, Dec. 1, 2103
- Published on Tuesday, 26 November 2013 16:37
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The Highland Companies’ proposed mega-quarry in Melancthon was backed by a multibillion-dollar US hedge fund and powerful political lobbyists. Its early opponents were just a handful of farmers in a sparsely populated rural township.
It takes a unique person to describe that David and Goliath battle as easy. In fact, Carl Cosack remembers people saying, “This is not a fight. You’ve lost before you started.” But he never saw it that way. “I’m a Sagittarian and they say Sagittarians are just ultimately really positive people.”
- Published on Monday, 25 November 2013 13:20
- Hits: 1156
Farm meets city, Rob O'Flanagan, Mercury staff
Houses along the new subdivision on Davis Street on the east side of Guelph are seen from a 26-hectare clover field. There use to be a farm where the houses now stand.
GUELPH — Hectic residential and commercial development on the perimeter of Guelph in recent years has dug up, paved over and built up hundreds of hectares of good farmland.
Along Arkell Road, some of those agricultural hectares are currently being scraped away by backhoes and excavators to make room for the new homes that have been sprouting up and advancing toward the city's boundaries over the past decade or so.
Those sprawling homes have pushed to the city limits along Davis Street east of Watson Parkway North, where a steel fence serves as a demarcation line between city and farm.
"That all used to be a farm," said Attilio Odorico, who bought his 37-hectare agricultural property nearly 20 years ago — back when there were a number of farms immediately to the west. Where crops, pastures, meadows, barns and chicken coops once stood, now there are tightly packed rows of large houses, all in the same drab earthen tones.
"I would definitely like to see farmland protected around here," said Odorico, 76, a retired construction worker. Immediately east of his land, which he leases to a local grower, there is nothing but farms and acreages. To the west, there is nothing but urban sprawl. Where new streets like Acker, Linke, Maude, Severn and Couling are once stood good, growing fields.
- Published on Friday, 22 November 2013 15:21
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Following a presentation by Shirley Boxem, Dufferin County Council last Thursday moved to support the Food & Water First Campaign, an initiative of North Dufferin Agriculture and Community Taskforce (NDACT).
NDACT was formed a few years ago in opposition to a mega-quarry on 2,400 acres of prime farmland in Melancthon and placed the source water of four river systems in peril.
It launched Food & Water First in the hope that a Legislature committee’s review of Ontario’s Aggregate Resources Act would lead to stronger protection of farmland and source water than is given in the present Act and Provincial Policy Statement.
NDACT believes the review has failed in that respect. Ms. Boxem, in presentations to the council and, earlier, at Shelburne has stated in effect that the campaign is not opposed to aggregate extraction but only what is viewed as a provincial preference to aggregates over agriculture.
Although the mega-quarry application was withdrawn in the wake of strong public opposition, “there is nothing to prevent a new application (being made),” she said.
The council’s approved motion by deputy mayors Darren White of Melancthon and Walter Kolodziechuk of Amaranth reads: Whereas only 5% of Ontario’s land is suitable for farming; and whereas only half of one per cent of Canada’s soil is Class 1; and whereas Ontario, with over 56% of Canada’s Class 1 land has lost, in the two decades between 1976 and 1996, 18% of its Class 1 land; and whereas prime farmland is a non-renewable finite resource; therefore be it resolved that the County of Dufferin endorse the Food & Water First campaign.
In other land use issues, the council approved a motion by Melancthon Mayor Bill Hill and Mono Deputy Mayor Ken McGhee to “declare the entire County to be an ‘Unwilling Host’ for any future industrial wind farm development.”
Although the motion notes that the townships of Amaranth, Melancthon and Mulmur had previously declared themselves to be unwilling hosts, the county motion might be largely symbolic as the county itself does not yet have an official plan or any land-use control.
As well, it isn’t clear where the province stands on renewable energy approvals in unwilling host municipalities. The stated policy appears to be only that preference would be given to projects within “willing host municipalities,” as was the apparent case with the recent, major Samsung approval in Haldimand County.
Also with respect to farming issues, the council approved the suggested predator control bylaw.
The bylaw would permit hunting or trapping of, primarily, coyotes (or coywolves) following a livestock kill but only within a restricted area and for a limited period of time.
A Dufferin Federation of Agriculture delegation pointed out that the aim of predator control is not to exterminate coyotes but only to apply a lethal method of control where all other means have failed.
By Wes Keller
Published in the Orangeville Citizen, Nov. 21, 2013