Coalition wants second public meeting on quarry
A group called the Clearview Community Coalition (CCC) wants Clearview Township council to hold a second public meeting regarding Walker Industries’ proposal to expand its quarry west of Duntroon. In a March 25 letter to township clerk Bob Campbell, CCC member Janet Gillham says notice of the first public meeting – held Tues., Jan. 27 – wasn’t as well advertised as it could have been. She said while the township followed the minimum notice requirements in the province’s Planning Act by mailing notice to people in the immediate area and by posting notice on the proposed site and on the township’s website, notice should have been placed in the newspaper as well so that residents throughout the municipality would have known of the meeting. People beyond the immediate area of the proposed expansion site will be impacted if the project goes ahead, in particular by truck traffic going to and from the quarry and so they should be given a chance to comment, the CCC says. “Since there was no notification of this meeting in the local newspapers…we believe that the residents of Clearview Township should be given an opportunity to attend a public meeting after notice is given in the local newspaper(s),” Gillham wrote. “By doing so, the residents of Clearview will have an opportunity to hear the issues and give input, and the members of council will have an opportunity to more accurately gage public support.” The CCC – a month-old organization comprised of residents who live near the quarry – would like the meeting to be held before council takes a position on the project. For the project to go ahead the proposed site will require a Clearview Official Plan amendment. About 120 people attended the first public meeting, held at the Stayner Community Centre. People were both for and against the expansion of the quarry – but it appeared as if most who spoke at the meeting supported the project. People against the project cited concerns about noise, traffic and pollution, while those in favour touted the economic benefit – in particular jobs created by the quarry and the support that Walker Industries provides to the community. A spokesperson for the CCC, Neill Lanz, said the organization plans to attend the April 20 meeting of Clearview Township council to ask that a second public meeting be scheduled. The matter was to be dealt with at council’s meeting last Monday night but that meeting was cancelled due to bad weather. Mayor Ken Ferguson said that while he hasn’t spoken to council about whether a second meeting should be scheduled he personally doesn’t think one is needed. “I can’t see the point of it,” he said. “I can’t see what new information they could put before us.” Ferguson said that council is well aware of the concerns residents have regarding the quarry expansion. The CCC canvassed parts of Stayner, Duntroon and Nottawa on Sat., April 4, talking to people about the proposed quarry expansion. Gillham said many people in Stayner were unaware of the project and the fact that Main Street (Highway 26) would see much of the truck traffic going to and from the quarry. Canvassers passed out a flyer outlining what the CCC would like to happen with the proposal. According to the literature, the group wants Walker Industries to “extract gravel at a rate that reduces the potential for negative impacts on the communities of Clearview.” As well, the group wants Walker Industries to adhere to stipulations in the Niagara Escarpment Official Plan that say asphalt plants aren’t allowed on escarpment land. A plant is something the company wants to have at the new site. The group also wants the company to address concerns about truck traffic in and out of the plant and along local roads. The group wants limited hours of operation at the quarry and protection of area wells and air as well. The CCC said that Walker should preserve the aggregate at the quarry for at least 90 years – not deplete it in 29, as the company says could potentially happen. The coalition said local employment at the quarry should be maintained without compromising the environment. “We are not looking to kill employment or business but at the same time we want a situation that’s livable,” Lanz said. “We think we’re being reasonable. We’re not anti-aggregate.” Walker Industries wants to expand its existing 142-acre quarry, located on the south side of County Road 91, west of Duntroon, because it’s running out of aggregate. Brent Clarkson, a planning consultant for Walker Industries, said at the last public meeting that the lifespan of the existing quarry is about three years. The plan is to expand the quarry to the north side of the county road to a 362-acre parcel of land. Company officials have said the want to extract aggregate from 168 acres on the property. They say there is a strong demand for aggregate in Ontario and that as a result the company wants to continue serving its customers. About 82 full-time jobs, the company said, are connected to the operation. Officials with Walker Industries say that if approvals can be obtained the company will mine the site in three phases, going to a depth of 128 feet. They said at the last public meeting the total tonnage the company expects to mine is 43-million tonnes and that depending on demand the life expectancy of the quarry is 14 to 29 years. The company is estimating that during peak operating times there will be 345 trucks going in and out of the quarry each day. Hours of operation at the expanded site would be Monday to Saturday and closed on Sunday, except for maintenance work. At the end of the quarry’s lifespan, the company plans to rehabilitate the site, with the dominant feature being a lake. Walker Industries has been working on the expansion of its quarry since 2002, when it began related studies and started purchasing land. In 2005, the company filed an expansion application with the township because the proposed site requires an Official Plan amendment. An application was also filed with the Niagara Escarpment Commission (NEC) because a NEC Plan amendment is needed, as is an NEC development permit. As well, the company filed an application with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources for an aggregate extraction licence. Because the process has gone on so long, the company in November 2008 asked the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) to rule on its proposal. Since then the applicant requested that the appeal be moved to the province’s Consolidated Hearings Board (CHB). The provincial board conducts hearings when issues pertain to more than one board. The board will hold a preliminary hearing on Thurs., April 30 at 10 a.m. at the Stayner Community Centre. Formal notice of the hearing appeared in an advertisement in last week’s Stayner Sun. The board will be comprised of members from the Environmental Review Tribunal and the OMB. The board says the purpose of the preliminary hearing is to hear submissions “from those who will be seeking status to participate,” plus “identify the issues to be considered at the hearing.” Lanz said the CCC is one of the groups that will ask for status. He noted the coalition has retained a lawyer.