On August 16, 2012 the Niagara Escarpment Commission (NEC) voted 9 to 3 to seek a judicial review of the Joint Board decision to approve a massive quarry for Walker Aggregates Inc. on the Niagara Escarpment west of Duntroon. A successful judicial review could protect the Niagara Escarpment’s hydrology, wildlife and ecosystem. The Region of Halton, the City of Burlington and over 20 community groups and individuals including Environmental Defence, Protecting Escarpment Rural Land, Grey Association for Better Planning, PitSense Niagara Escarpment Group Inc., People for Responsible Escarpment Development Caledon Inc., Blue Mountain Watershed Trust Foundation, Nature League (incorporated as Senior League Endowment Society of Collingwood), and the Oakvillegreen Conservation Association urged the NEC to embrace the100-page dissent judgment of Member Wright. Member Wright’s dissent argues that the Board’s decision would undermine the integrity of the Niagara Escarpment Plan (NEP), set a perilous course for future development and jeopardize the Escarpment’s unique protected status.
Former Minister of the Environment and Member of Clearview Community Coalition (CCC) Ruth Grier commented that “in all my time in government and as an advocate, the Walker decision caused me the greatest concern for the health of the Niagara Escarpment UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. I commend the commission for their vote to defend the Niagara Escarpment, one of Ontario’s truly unique environmental features.”
“Ontarians don't want a mega-quarry that puts our land, water and wildlife at risk, for the benefit of few” said Dr. Rick Smith, Executive Director of Environmental Defence. "I'm happy to see that the NEC recognizes this quarry in this location is a mistake."
The NEC’s vote to launch a judicial review of the Walker Aggregates Inc. decision shows that the NEC is willing to uphold the NEP and that the decision to approve the licence in the first place was flawed by wrongly placing the Provincial Policy Statement (PPS) above the more restrictive NEP.
“We are all relieved that the Board’s decision will be reviewed to ensure the environment and local residents are given the full measure of NEP protection. A court will have the final say on whether the Niagara Escarpment Plan is the paramount regime, which is the will of the Legislature and people of Ontario” said David Donnelly, counsel to Environmental Defence and CCC.
Keep checking the Donnelly Law website for updates on the judicial review.
To read the Joint Board decision: http://www.ert.gov.on.ca/files/201206/00000300-BPQ1IK6FIN0026-CFI4BD7E8HO026.pdf