Victory for the Escarpment

Nelson Quarry application has insufficient provisions for endangered species, wetlands and woodlands protection Toronto,  ON – Environmentalists and community members are overjoyed by today’s  decision of the Joint Board to protect Burlington’s Mount Nemo and  Jefferson Salamander breeding ponds on the farm of the Harmer family.   The decision denies Nelson Aggregate’s proposed 26 million tonne quarry  on the 82 hectare site.

“The Board’s decision is balanced and in  keeping with our belief that development on the Niagara Escarpment, a  UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve must be harmonious with the features and  functions of the natural environment.  The decision is PERL’s dream come  true,” said Sarah Harmer, a founder of Protecting Escarpment Rural Land  (PERL), and hearing witness.

The Board’s decision gives Mount  Nemo and its rare and endangered species a chance to breathe after a  century of quarrying.  This decision also protects the unique ecological  functions of the Escarpment that cannot be replaced by planting trees  nearby, which was originally proposed by Nelson Aggregates to offset its  negative environmental impact.

“This is a true victory for the  Escarpment and all the public agencies that worked to protect Mount  Nemo, a gem of the Greenbelt in southern Ontario,” said Dr. Rick Smith,  executive director of Environmental Defence.  "It shows that the Niagara  Escarpment Plan, a cornerstone of Ontario’s earliest environmental  protection efforts, is still relevant and strong."

PERL and  Environmental Defence attributed today’s win to the persistent and  expert advocacy of Halton Region, the City of Burlington, Niagara  Escarpment Commission, Conservation Halton and all the participants that  testified against the development.

“We’re ecstatic with this  outcome.  It sets a new course for development on the Escarpment, making  clear that the Niagara Escarpment Plan contains specific provisions  that offer additional aspects of environmental protection in Ontario,”  said David Donnelly, counsel to Environmental Defence and PERL during  the 15-month hearing.

“The public was right, Mount Nemo is the  wrong place for another destructive, below water table quarry,” said  Roger Goulet, executive director of PERL.

Nelson presented a  lengthy case in favour of the new quarry.  In total, 60 witnesses,  including 47 experts were called to the witness box.

The decision  strongly supports the dissenting decision of Vice-Chair Robert Wright,  in the Walker Aggregates Ltd. decision of the Joint Board that  surprisingly approved a new quarry on the Escarpment.  The Walker  decision is being appealed by the Niagara Escarpment Commission.

About  PERL (www.perlofburlington.org): Protecting Escarpment Rural Land is  involved in a number of initiatives to help protect the Niagara  Escarpment for future generations.  PERL retained Order of Canada  architect Douglas Cardinal to help it devise a “Vision for Mount Nemo”  that would allow Nemo’s industrial past to be transformed into a  sustainable, ecological future.

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