PROTECTING Our Escarpment
PitSense is a community of people organized to respond to proposals for further increases in the number and size of aggregate operations in Caledon.
We are opposed to the continuing 'Domino Effect' growth of open pit mines and quarries in the agricultural and rural residential areas of the Niagara Escarpment and UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve.
_______________________________________________________________________________________________Feb/28/2011INTERNATIONAL GREENBELTS CONFERENCE SLATED FOR TORONTO
The Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation is hosting an International Greenbelts Conference in Toronto, Canada,
March 22nd - 24th, 2011. Through the sharing of diverse experience and perspectives, the Conference will spark
new ideas about the possibilities that greenbelts offer, and generate new ways of tackling some of the complex
challenges in near urban farming, rural vibrancy, and protecting our ecosystems and the numerous benefits they provide. See:
Feb/24/2011 AGGREGATE MUNICIPALITIES SET TO FORM LOBBY GROUP
Caledon - Mayor Marolyn Morrison announced at Tuesday’s council meeting that the mayors of the top ten aggregate producing municipalities (including Caledon) have been invited to get together, with the possibility of forming a group to lobby the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR). See:
Feb/14/11 FEARS OF CONTAMINATED SOIL IN OLD GRAVEL PIT
Toronto Star reports that residents on Oak Ridges Moraine fear contaminated wells from fill being dumped in old
gravel pit, contrary to local regulations. See:
Nov/17/10BIZARRE MOVE by ONTARIO MINISTRY of NATURAL RESOURCES
Disturbing news for friends of the Niagara Escarpment - OMNR pulls out of Ontario Municipal Board hearing
Nov/15/10ROCKFORT QUARRY REJECTED!
The Ontario Municipal Board has rejected the application by James Dick Construction Ltd.
to establish an open pit dolostone mine at Winston Churchill and Olde Baseline in the
Town of Caledon.
The PROVINCIAL POLICY STATEMENT 2005 (PPS) is presently under review.
Comments are being sought and our opportunity to have input is NOW.
The deadline for submissions is October 28, 2010. Please go to:
to read the PPS, particularly the section on Aggregates. Then go to:
to have your say on how it can be amended to better protect our Escarpment.
PIT OPPONENTS WIN
Please explore this website. It describes the battle and ultimate victory to keep
an open-pit gravel mine from negatively impacting a rural residential area.
Also please refer to their 'letters' section to help formulate and express your
concerns about proposed Escarpment pits.
PUSLINCH PIT VICTORY
News article regarding the OMB decision to block a proposed Capital Paving pit
in Puslinch Ontario
WIN for PIT OPPONENTS in BC
"Nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come"
... Victor Hugo
Copyright © 2010-2013 PitSense Niagara Escarpment Group Inc.
All rights reserved
We are very fortunate to have in Ontario an area that is recognized internationally as a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. Large parts of the Niagara Escarpment are also designated as 'Protected' areas, with 'Greenbelt', 'Oak Ridges Moraine', and 'Credit Valley Conservation Area' status as well. We seek to make these designations truly meaningful.
Apr/30/2011SPRING/SUMMER NEIGHBOURHOOD AWARENESS BARBECUE
PitSense is holding our 2nd BBQ to raise awareness and funds. Set aside June 11 from 4pm to dusk
to 'Meet, Greet, and Eat' with your neighbours and friends who are working to protect your
Niagara Escarpment. We will also have a special GUEST ARTIST! ... SAMPLE HERE:
For more info click HERE
Mar/22/2011CANADIAN INSTITUTE FOR ENVIRONMENTAL LAW AND POLICY
CIELAP has issued a report entitled:
Aggregate Extraction in Ontario: A Strategy for the Future
Highly recommended reading for all concerned. (click HERE)
May/24/2011 We are highly recommending this recent comprehensive 2-part report:
A Review of “The State of the Aggregate Resource in Ontario Study” and the “Aggregate Resource Advisory Committee” Consensus Recommendations. January 2011.
(a) Part One by Mark Dorfman
(b) Part Two by Alisa McClurg.
Our PitSense Community BBQ was held
at Don MacDow's Farm on Heart Lake Rd. Despite somewhat threatening weather the turnout was fantastic, the music was excellent, and the food was delicious. We owe a huge THANK YOU to all who bought tickets and made donations. We gratefully acknowledge the numerous sponsors and donors of door prizes and silent auction items. And of course we are blessed with capable volunteers ... THANK YOU ALL !
for more and larger pics click HERE SEPTEMBER 11, 2011 -
The BOSTON HERALD published an article about the Highland Company's proposal for a MEGA QUARRY in Melancthon. It reports: "Last week, the province ordered an environmental review for the quarry — a win for opponents." The publicity that Melancthon has received stems from the size of the proposed operation. What seems to be overlooked is a comparison between the proposed 2300 acre Melancthon quarry and the approximately 3000 acres ALREADY UNDERGOING EXTRACTION in Caledon!
Dec/1/2011 - In a groundbreaking alliance,the aggregate sector and conservation groups, led byOntario Natureand the Ontario Aggregate Forum, make common cause on a green certification standard for gravel.
In a feature article titled "The high road", author Ray Ford describes some of the history of the conflicts between aggregate producers and citizens, the need for aggregates, and hopeful developments for cooperative efforts in the future.
Click HERE to read the full article.
Dec/2011 - Judge Finds in Favour of Neighbours of the Braeside Quarry
Deputy Judge Sauriol of the Ontario Supreme Court of Justice Small Claims Court, Renfrew, has found in favour of nine residents of the Braeside Ridge who charged Miller Group with nuisance, trespass and negligence because of adverse effects from the temporary asphalt plant operated by Miller in the Braeside Quarry in the fall of 2009. Adverse effects included irritation of the eyes, nose and throat, loss of appetite, shortness of breath, headaches and nausea. Ecojustice Canada, formerly Sierra Legal Defense represented these residents in this action.
As far back as 2006 local residents organized to oppose expanded operations at this location. An article in the Ottawa Citizen describes the case and the result - click HERE to read the article.
Palgrave Residents get a Lump of Coal… actually a load of gravel. Christmas this year is not a happy time for Palgrave (Caledon) residents living near a long-dormant open pit gravel mine. Recently revealed plans call for a major expansion to the Tottenham Pit and extension of operations for another decade or so. Although the Town of Caledon has known of these plans for a couple of years, the local residents only became aware in recent months. They were alarmed, and began to investigate. What they discovered has motivated them to ask questions about the whole pit licensing process. They are faced with an end-of-year deadline for a final decision by the Ministry of Natural Resources. It appears their Christmas Goose is already cooked. Their appeal to the MNR has fallen on deaf ears. Officials declined to fully listen to their concerns. The residents have identified a long list of irregularities, inconsistencies, and deficiencies in the application process. They have documented numerous questionable practices by the current applicants and their predecessors going back many years. They have historical documentation of harm to the local resident’s properties and water supplies from excavation deep below the water table.What they discovered led them to request that the Town seek an injunction to, at the very least, slow the process down so they could have their concerns properly considered. On Dec/13/2011, in a marathon Council Meeting, the Town did pass a strongly worded motion calling for the Brock Aggregates application to be denied. They also promised a delegation of residents that they would immediately investigate obtaining an injunction.So far to no avail.At an ‘emergency council meeting’ on Dec/19, 2011 Council indicated they would request a delay in the decision until March 31, 2011. Again, apparently to no avail. The MNR seems to be digging in their heels, claiming the laws and regulations, as written, do not require any delay. The residents are livid that a government Ministry would so callously ignore their concerns and hide behind what residents see as flawed legislation and regulations. They are asking serious questions about the morality and ethics of the situation. They are also asking why their Town representatives appear to be so powerless to influence decisions at a provincial level.They are asking Santa, and anyone else who shares similar concerns about uncontrolled, unaccountable, and irresponsible proliferation of gravel mines, pits, and quarries, to help by calling the Minister of Natural Resources, Hon. Michael Gravelle (ironic, eh?) at 1-888-516-5555 and their local MPP to ask for his immediate intervention.See local news report HERE
January 19 / 2012 Hope expressed after meeting with MNR on Tottenham Pit
Our Caledon neighbours in Palgrave are looking for help from the Town and Province. There are indications the Province is listening to the concerns of those opposing the proposed expansion of the Tottenham Pit. Read full article HERE
December 2011 / January 2012
Concerns recently raised by our neighbours in the Palgrave area of Caledon.regarding the proposed major site plan amendments at the Tottenham pit have resulted in some notable motions passed by our Town Council. PitSense is hopeful that these motions signal a new willingness on the part of the Town to take residents' concerns more seriously and to help residents deal with the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Aggregate Industry in a more responsible and cooperative manner. The text of the motion passed on December 13, 2011 can be found HERE.
A 'special' council meeting was held on December 19, 2011 to further consider residents' concerns. The minutes of that meeting can be found HERE.
February 7 / 2012 - 800% increase in tonnage fees?
A recent news report gives us clues about the magnitude of aggregate industry profits and the inadequacy of current fee structures. The Highland Company has offered to increase the tonnage fees paid to Melancthon from $0.06 per tonne to $0.50 per tonne. (still way under the total UK fees of $3.22/tonne)
If we view this offer in the most positive light it may mean that there is new awareness in the industry of the need for the sort of economic sense we are seeking in our 'Full Cost Accounting' initiative. PitSense is calling for all aggregate license applicants to provide for FULL ECONOMIC COMPENSATION to all who are negatively impacted by their proposals. This includes the regions and municipalities who suffer increased infrastructure costs, the local communities who are faced with air quality, water quality and safety impacts, and local residents who suffer a loss of equity in their properties.
Is this what it means? We're hopeful ... but not holding our breath.
February 15, 2012
- Fortune Magazine article raises awareness of Ontario aggregate issues and battle in Melancthon.Read full article HERE
NDACT reaches new heights in
MEGA QUARRY battle;
taking it to Africa's highest peak.
February 17, 2012 - Globe & Mail "Moderate air pollution levels, currently considered to pose little risk to human health, may not be so safe after all."This article reinforces our view that air quality monitoring in proximity to pits is inadequate for ensuring the health of residents who have not volunteered to participate in health experiments. This is why we are calling for information and action from our elected representatives and their appointees. See action request HEREand information HERE
May 2012 - Standing Committee on General Government Review of the Aggregate Resources Act
In light of controversial proposals to expand existing pits by site plan amendments, license new pits in sensitive 'protected' areas, and create ever-larger quarries, such as the "Mega Quarry" in Melancthon Township, the provincial Legislature is reviewing the Act.
PitSense was present as an observer at the review hearings. The committee proposed that by: " ... seeking advice and gaining insight from key stakeholders, the committee will make recommendations to the government about how to strengthen the Act."
The Act, as it is currently structured, and in concert with the Provincial Policy Statement (PPS), mandates access to 'close to market' aggregate, at considerable expense to private property owners and municipalities, and makes it difficult for residents to stop detrimental pits and quarries. PitSense questions whether this is still good social, economic and environmental policy.
On Friday, May 4, the Standing Committee on General Government announced that it would be holding public hearings at Queen's Park in Toronto, beginning on Monday, May 7 (4 hours), Wednesday, May 9 (2 hours), Monday, May 14 (4 hours) and Wednesday, May 16 (2 hours). Those wishing to make an oral presentation were required to contact the Clerk of the Committee by 5:00 on Wednesday, May 9. The deadline for written submissions was 5:00 pm on Wednesday, May 16. The 'public' was effectively barred from the May 7 and May 9 hearings since a favored few (e.g. MNR, ECO, and aggregate industry representatives) had been given advance notice and were provided relatively generous time allocations on those dates. There were a total of more than 75 requests to appear submitted by the May 9 deadline. Only 24 of those were selected, and given only 10 minutes each to present their views. PitSense was among the majority who were not allowed to make an oral presentation.
The extremely short notice, quick deadlines, minimal time allocations, and the absence of rural hearings made it difficult for people in the communities most affected to be heard. The committee recommended that more hearings be held and travel to affected communities be permitted. The house leaders of the 3 parties have not accepted the committee's recommendation. They appear very reluctant to seriously engage the public in this review.
the citizens of Ontario deserve better.
Links to our written submissions
are available HERE
(Part way down the page)
cartoon courtesy of Gail Prussky
May 19, 2012 - Ontario Federation of Agriculture makes strong recommendations to the government committee reviewing the Aggregate Resources Act.
"From an agricultural perspective, the Aggregates Resources Act is in dire need of more balance with due consideration of our soil as a strategic resource to be protected."
See article and links HERE
Quarry Approved On Escarpment 25 June 2012
Did you think the Niagara Escarpment was actually protected? A Joint Board of the Ontario Municipal Board and the Environmental Review Tribunal have conditionally approved a massive new Walker Brothers quarry on the Niagara Escarpment, over the objections of the Niagara Escarpment Commission, two conservation authorities, a land trust and local citizens [Clearview Community Coalition]. As usually happens with quarry applications, two of the Joint Board members were from the OMB, and, as usual, they approved the quarry, with modest changes. Robert Wright, the single representative of the Environmental Review Tribunal, wrote a stinging and passionate 95 page dissent. see full decision HERE
According to Mr. Wright,
"this site in the NEP Area, with a large existing quarry across the road, is not the right location for another large quarry and human-made end-lake. The site is at the center of an intricate array of natural features, functions and systems that are, collectively, a unique ecologic area ..."
... from an article by Diane Saxe. see full article HERE
Committee to Review Aggregate Resources Act hears from Dufferin-Caledon - June 27, 2012
17 concerned citizens made a variety of eloquent and compelling submissions to a committee of MPPs in an afternoon session in Orangeville. view CTV newsclip HERE.
" Brent Preston, an organic farmer who lives about 10 km north of Highlands’ proposed quarry site [in Melancthon] told the committee changing the ARA to favour farmland over aggregate would help strengthen Ontario’s economy. Preston explained he could sell the salad he grows for about $18,000 per tonne, while aggregate yields about $8 per tonne. He added the agricultural industry contributes about $33 billion to Ontario’s economy, while aggregate contributes $1.6 billion." see Orangeville Banner article HERE
The Concerned Citizens of Brant (CCOB) are objecting to a gravel pit starting operations in their community in 2012 using a license that was granted to Dufferin Aggregates in 1974 !
August 20, 2012 - the Niagara Escarpment Commission voted to seek a Judicial Review of a quarry decision. The commission voted 9-3 to ask for a review of the Consolidated Hearings Board decision to grant Walker Aggregates the go-ahead to expand its quarry operations near Duntroon. The NEC move was applauded by the Clearview Community Coalition. See full Barrie Examiner story HERE.
Province washes hands of smelter cleanup
One of the serious problems PitSense is working to address is the lack of financial responsibility requirements in the ARA and MOE legislation or in the PPS (Provincial Policy Statement). We are pushing hard for a 'Full Cost Accounting' approach including full compensation for harm. An example of the consequences of the current situation is described in this recent York Region article.
Mine clean-up rules too lax, critic says ...
When Royal Oak Mines went bankrupt more than a decade ago, it left behind a toxic legacy that Canadian taxpayers are still paying to clean up. Read full CBC article HERE
October 15, 2012 - Ontario Premier McGuinty resigns and shuts down Ontario Legislature - halting work of the Aggregate Resources Act review committee. News article comments HERE.
I N T H E N E W S
October 17, 2012 - Minister Gravelle is asked to cancel gravel pit licence. In a courageous move Brantford council overwhelmingly approved a resolution from councillors John Wheat and Steve Schmitt, asking the MNR to cancel the licence Dufferin Aggregates was given in 1974 but is only acting on now. The vote shows that the county is solidly behind the wishes of citizens to stop Dufferin's drive to open its pit. See full article HERE
October 20-26, 2012 - Caledon's Tottenham Pit owners involved in toxic oil spill and questionable activities. Palgrave residents are frustrated in attempts to obtain information and government action to protect their water wells. Confusion, contradictions, and suspected cover-ups are reported HERE, HERE, and HERE in the Caledon Enterprise. This incident, and the resulting finger-pointing and evasion of responsibilities serves to reinforce PitSense's view is that the Aggregate Resources Act and the Ministries of Natural Resources and Environment are ill-equipped, both in personnel and legislative authority, to ensure proper oversight and management of aggregates in Ontario. More pits and quarries will simply mean more such acts in the future.
We are calling on our government to revise the Act and related procedures to prevent such future human health threats and environmental disasters.
December 10, 2012 - Recycled material represents fifth of UK aggregates market
Recycled aggregates nearly account for 20% of the total aggregates market in the UK despite demand falling during the recession, latest research suggests.
In its latest survey on the industry, BDS Marketing Research has identified around 530 static sites in the country with an aggregates recycling plant. Together, these plants produced around 37 million tonnes in 2011.
Read article HERE
Thursday, September, 20, 2012 - Opposition growing to aggregate pits near Holstein
By Don Crosbyfor the Mount Forest Confederate
Opposition to the development of gravel pits in the Holstein area is growing, with a call for a moratorium on further approval of gravel pits until studies can be done to determine the cumulative long term social and financial effects. “My farm is hemmed in on two sides by two gravel pits. I’ve done nothing wrong. If I had known what was going to happen I would never agreed to retire in Egremont. The issue of devaluation of my property was ignored,”said resident Marilyn Ellis. Don Scott, the planner for H. Bye Construction, agreed there is no compensation for the economic effects on property values.
See full article HERE
December 2012 - New CSC Signals AFO-SERA Merger
"The creation of the CSC marks the coming together of the
Aggregate Forum of Ontario (AFO) and Socially and Environmentally
Responsible Aggregate (SERA), and it builds on the strengths of
both organizations for identifying environmental and social practices for pit and quarry development and for encouraging collaboration between industry, environmental groups, First Nations and local communities. In July 2012, these two groups joined forces and resources to avoid duplicating efforts.
The combined organization brings SERA's draft standards and standards development process together with AFO's sector knowledge, industry engagement and previous work on the design of a credible certification system. The new CSC will continue the mission of both groups, working collaboratively with industry leaders, environmental organizations, community groups, municipal and provincial governments and aggregate purchasers to create certification standards that make a difference to the environment and to the social and economic well-being of communities."
We urge all PitSense supporters to visit the website at:http://tinyurl.com/a59g64y and participate in the formation of standards and protocols.
February 1, 2013 - Residents Call for Legal Challenge regarding Recycling in Jigs Hollow Pit
Last November the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) gave their approval to the pit. Behind closed doors prior to the hearings, the Township signed an agreement permitting recycling on the site despite expressly denying the practice just a few months earlier. (See original article HERE ... where council took to heart a litany of health and environmental concerns raised by residents.)
Residents continue to complain that there are no measures in place to deal with potential health risks associated with crystalline silica dust and diesel exhaust particulate, both known carcinogens.
Read the article from the Woolwich OBSERVER ... click HERE
March 8, 2013 - as reported in the WELLINGTON ADVERTISER - Dennis Lever, mayor of Puslinch Township, was elected chair of the Top Aggregate Producing Municipalities in Ontario (TAPMO) organization at the annual Ontario Good Roads Association and Rural Ontario Municipal Association combined conference last week. He replaces the former chair, Mayor Marolyn Morrison of Caledon. TAPMO was established in 2011 to address concerns regarding levy payment amounts, rehabilitation, recycling and other aggregate-related issues.
Mayor Lever has also expressed concerns about successful gravel pit assessment appeals that could have a negative impact on the municipal budget in Puslinch. At a Feb. 21 meeting, he told councillors that at a previous meeting, he’d commented on the assessment settlement for Dufferin Aggregates and the $180,000 refund the municipality will have to pay because of prior years’ taxes. See article HERE
Wednesday, July 10, 2013 - Court Dismisses the Judicial Review Application by CCC
The Superior Court has released their decision. It is not the result that Clearview Community Coalition lawyers had hoped for and, in our view, it is not the correct decision. The court deferred to the June 2012 decision of the two OMB members who approved Walkers’ new quarry, rather than accept the dissenting opinion of the Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) member and the arguments of the Niagara Escarpment Commission and the CCC lawyers, who argued that the OMB members had made errors in law. From the outset, the CCC were unlucky that there was only one ERT member on the hearing panel..
JULY 25, 2013 - True intentions are revealed! - An article quoting Blueland Farms' plans for the McCormick property on Heart Lake Rd. in Caledon - it's not about gravel, it's about money to be made.
Aggregate Industry Still Recovering From Black Eye - by PETER KENTER correspondent
The Ontario aggregate industry faces considerable challenges, from securing and developing new aggregate supplies, to delivering aggregates increasing distances to the markets that consume them. However, if you ask Steve Mader, vice-president of aggregate company Blueland Farms in Wiarton, Ont., he’ll tell you that the industry is healthier than it has been in many years.
Mader has been an aggregate man for about a quarter-century. His company now develops new aggregate sites for other producers.
“I get them through the regulatory hurdles, get them licensed, get the berms and fences up, break ground, move equipment in and operate them for six months to get production rolling,” he says. “At that point I sell them to another producer to operate for the remainder of the licence.”
See full article HERE
August 9, 2013 -Capital Paving has done the right thing and cancelled plans for a pit that would have threatened the famous 'Kissing Bridge' in West Montrose. Congratulations to Tony Dowling and the Bridgekeepers group for their persistent and reasoned opposition. Capital's press release said, in part:
"While the Company truly believes that it could have operated the gravel pit responsibly and with respect for surrounding neighbours, Capital decided to acknowledge the concerns of the local community of West Montrose and the covered bridge."
August 19, 2013, Ottawa - CONGRATULATIONS! to Norma Moore and her group! Just shows it CAN be done. Residents of Braeside are celebrating after a judge upheld a 2011 court decision that said the smells and sounds caused by a temporary asphalt plant in the area were a public nuisance. A bid to rezone the area in order to build a permanent plant at Braeside Quarry was rejected by the township’s council. Norma said: “We had a common problem that affected all of us and we worked to get the evidence to bring the facts together, to make a very solid case.”
See full story HERE
September 26, 2013, Caledon - Opposition grows against Melville pit.
Matthew Strader photo
"I’ve never seen residents so mistreated by a council like this one," Bunt said bluntly from his home, stating that his questions and email queries have gone unanswered by councillors and Town of Caledon staff.
“The resource area is not being talked about right,” he said about Caledon having certain portions of land designated as an aggregate resource area. “The council is saying it means they don’t have a choice but to do aggregate, but that isn’t true. It limits you from doing anything that would preclude aggregate. It doesn’t mean you have to do aggregate.” See Caledon Enterprise article HERE
September 19, 2013, Rockwood ON. - Concerned Residents Coalition (CRC) delegated to Guelph-Eramosa Township Council regarding financial impacts of 'Hidden Quarry' application.
"When will Guelph Eramosa Council engage a suitably qualified consultant ... to carry out an economic analysis of the impacts ...?" asked CRC representative Perry Groskopf.
See full news article HERE
< click to enlarge
August 22, 2013, Rockwood ON. -
Guelph Eramosa Township Councillor calls
the proposed quarry "Invasive".
Concerned Residents Coalition (CRC) scientific committee chair Stephanie de Grandis said below water table blasting is "uncharted territory"
as she outlined 11 concerns.
See full article HERE
click to enlarge >