View topic - Ontario MNR underfunded - it stops a quarry...

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PostPosted: November 15th, 2010, 7:36 pm 
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I'm not sure whether this is good news or bad - but it's a precedent that we should keep our eyes on.
Quote:
OMB kills Rockfort quarry proposal
Phinjo Gombu Urban Affairs Reporter

The Ontario Municipal Board had crushed plans for a massive open pit stone quarry in Caledon, to the joy of citizen opponents who fought the project for 13 years.

The groundbreaking decision, says the province’s environmental commissioner, is reason for the aggregate industry to rethink its approach to quarries proposed close to major urban centres.

“You have to see these developments in the context of the surrounding landscape, and to a large extent, this is what does decision does,” said Gord Miller, reacting to Monday’s long-awaited decision. Miller said it’s important to asses not just the environmental impact, but also the cultural and fiscal aspects of such applications.

Over a 13-year fight, the Coalition of Concerned Citizens raised more than a million dollars to argue against the Rockfort quarry proposed by James Dick Construction, at Winston Churchill Blvd. and Old Baseline Rd. The site is on the Paris Moraine where it meets the protected Niagara Escarpment.

In the end, the OMB agreed with many of their concerns, in part over skepticism about the ability of the Ministry of Natural Resources to monitor the project’s potential negative effects.

“A failure in the mitigation measures proposed for the quarry … would have a catastrophic impact on the natural environment or the natural features and functions of the area,” the decision said. “Such an impact cannot be countenanced by the Board. In addition, the fundamental change to the character of the area attendant upon the proposed quarry would not be acceptable.”

The Coalition’s Lilie Ann Morris called the decision “awesome, a wonderful win for the environment.”

“We were extremely concerned about the water,” said Morris, whose group used garage sales, golf tournaments and individual donations to raise money for the fight. “We are all on wells in the area.”

Aggregate companies have argued that putting quarries close to where their products are used is environmentally smart because it cuts down on trucking. But the industry has been under siege in recent years.

The province recently stopped plans for another quarry in Flamborough through a rarely used Minister’s Zoning Order. And there is an ongoing battle over expanding the Nelson quarry in Burlington, opposed by a group named PERL (Protecting Escarpment Rural Land.)

Opponents argued that the Rockfort application, which sought permission to extract up to 2.5 million tonnes of rock a year, could have affected the water table and risked water sources that feed the Credit River.

The board cited several reasons for ruling against it:

• Concern that the Ministry of Natural Resources does not have the staff to monitor a complex 80-year mitigation plan, to ensure the environment wasn’t harmed by extracting stone below the water table.

• Concern about the lack of a feasible financial plan to ensure mitigation efforts — which could cost up to $90 million — didn’t end up becoming the taxpayers’ burden.

• A need to seek alternatives to aggregates, which observers say means more use of recycled construction material.

The board also took into consideration issues such as the “loss of view of rural lands”

“The loss of a cultural heritage landscape and cultural heritage resources and the conversion of a rural area into an urban area centred on a heavy industrial operation cannot be permitted in the interest of the production of more aggregate for infrastructure development,” the decision said.

Spokespersons for James Dick Construction and the Aggregate Producers Association of Ontario were not available for comment.

The board said it didn’t want to leave protection of the environment to be “dealt with by a third party with demonstrably inadequate resources, like MNR.”

During the hearings, held from September to May, the board was told that a single aggregate technical specialist was responsible for 146 licensed pits and quarries, creating a situation where she was able to field-check only one in five of the sites.

Greg McNeil, an MNR spokesperson, said the ministry has staff across the province and can focus resources on specific licences as needed. McNeil said the ministry was reviewing the decision.


There's really nothing to stop the developer to play his political connections, get the minister's support to have the MNR "focus on his specific license" and then re-apply to the OMB. Hmmmm.....

http://www.thestar.com/news/article/890 ... posal?bn=1

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PostPosted: November 16th, 2010, 11:48 am 
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Location: Bancroft, Ontario Canada
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The board said it didn’t want to leave protection of the environment to be “dealt with by a third party with demonstrably inadequate resources, like MNR.”


This is likely to get worse with the new budget coming in April 2011... cutbacks are forecast to deal with deficit spending and debt. MNR typically gets cut quite a bit.

Ever tried getting a call back from the district office?

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PostPosted: November 16th, 2010, 6:49 pm 
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I agree that MNR has been underfunded and that is likely to continue or even get worse. But I have to say that I have always had telephone calls returned, without exception in the Thunder Bay and Nipigon Districts - always.


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PostPosted: November 16th, 2010, 7:13 pm 
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Good post

The board said it didn’t want to leave protection of the environment to be “dealt with by a third party with demonstrably inadequate resources, like MNR.”

ouch...thats gotta hurt. :-?

I think that puts some pressure on us "conservationists" to become more involved.
I dont see MNR funding increasing for many years.

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PostPosted: November 17th, 2010, 9:05 pm 
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I smell some nimby-ism.

Something else to consider is, who would be neighbouring the quarry in Caledon?

"Just some farmers?"

Or a hotshot commodities broker/commercial banker with Burns Fry, with political connections, that owns a 6800 sq ft. manse nearby, who bought and paid for the $1M dollar view from the rear of the house, where the heated 700 sq ft outdoor pool is located, which would be compromised by such a blemish on the landscape?

Irony here.

A friend is stone mason, he works for his uncles company that specializes in custom marble work - fireplaces, bathrooms, foyers, etc. He worked on a place out there once. He said the cost of the marble alone(material only & uninstalled) for the fireplace set the guy back $38K.


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