National environmental group supports call for a time-out on massive hearings in Ontario's Greenbelt
Toronto – Environmental Defence is joining forces with the Niagara Escarpment Commission, Clearview Community Coalition and Protecting Escarpment Rural Land (PERL) to protect the Niagara Escarpment, which is under threat from two proposed quarries. One quarry, proposed by Walker Aggregates Inc., was already proposed for Duntroon, Ontario near Collingwood, when plans for yet another quarry only 600 metres away, was announced by M.A.Q. Aggregates last week.
“Clearly, there is no coordination or assessment of the cumulative effects of these two proposed quarries. The Duntroon Quarry license application itself is a serious test case for protecting the Niagara Escarpment, the Greenbelt and Ontario’s freshwater resources,” said Dr. Rick Smith, Executive Director of Environmental Defence. "Taken together, these two proposed quarries could cause significant environmental damage."
The more imminent of the two new quarries proposed near the tiny hamlet of Duntroon is scheduled for a joint Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) and Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) hearing starting on April 12, 2010. Without consulting residents, however, a settlement has been negotiated between Walker Aggregates Inc., Simcoe County and Clearview Township which, in part, transfers a portion of County Road 91 from Simcoe County to Clearview Township for future closure. This agreement was apparently approved ‘in camera’ by Clearview Township on February 10, 2010, then discussed again ‘in camera’ and approved by Simcoe County Council on February 25, 2010. As a result, Simcoe County and Clearview Township are now in favour of Walker Aggregates’ quarry proposal.
The site of the Walker Aggregates’ application is located just steps away from the highest point of the Niagara Escarpment, which is an amazing complex from an environmental perspective. The new quarry would result in the permanent removal of 40.5 ha of significant woodland, which contain precious interior forest and provides for contiguous animal habitat. Protection of endangered butternut trees and a world-class colony of American Hart’s Tongue Fern would be left to a strategy called isolation, and experts are sceptical that this strategy would work. The colony of Hart’s Tongue Fern under threat is greater in number than the sum of all colonies outside of Canada.
Walker Industries has already been quarrying the Duntroon Escarpment since 1968 and is now proposing to quarry for another 14 to 29 years and to more than double the current annual rate of extraction to 2.5 million tonnes.
“The agreements between Walker Aggregates Inc. and the municipalities of Clearview and Simcoe have done little to reduce community impacts and nothing to reduce the impacts on the Niagara Escarpment,” said Janet Gillham, President of the Clearview Community Coalition and a local resident who is outraged by the negative impacts to local communities and by the prospect of continued destruction of the Niagara Escarpment, a valued local natural heritage feature and a World Biosphere Reserve.
“The Walker quarry proposal and Niagara Escarpment Plan re-designation application has been revised more times than we can count, yet the current designation on the site hasn’t been updated since the Trudeau years,” said David Donnelly, legal counsel to Environmental Defence and Clearview Community Coalition.
The newly announced 30-million-tonne M.A.Q. Aggregates quarry proposed in Grey County, which was appealed to the Ontario Municipal Board last week, would be directly across the road from the Walker Aggregates quarry. The site is in the center of the Rob Roy Provincially Significant Wetland complex. Species potentially impacted include the special-concern Canada Warbler and the Western Chorus Frog. Despite close proximity of these two proposed quarries, it is not clear whether the cumulative effects of the two quarries have been adequately evaluated.
Clearview Community Coalition is a member of the Ontario Greenbelt Alliance, a coalition of more than 80 environmental, health and community groups dedicated to protecting Ontario’s Golden Horseshoe Greenbelt.
About Environmental Defence: Environmental Defence protects the environment and human health. We research. We educate. We go to court when we have to, all in order to ensure clean air, safe food and thriving ecosystems. Nationwide. http://www.environmentaldefence.ca/
For more information, or to arrange interviews, please contact: Jennifer Foulds, Environmental Defence, (416) 323-9521 ext. 232; (647) 280-9521 (cell) Janet Gillham, President, Clearview Community Coalition, (705) 445-6095