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Mega quarry threatens Niagara Escarpment and beyond


The Citizen’s Alliance United for a Sustainable Environment (“CAUSE”) and the North Dufferin Agricultural Community Task Force (“NDACT”) have issued a news release about a company controlled by Boston-based hedge fund The Baupost Group that has submitted “Canada’s largest ever quarry application in order to extract limestone to a level 200 feet below the water table.”
According to the release, the proposed mega quarry site covers 2,316 acres of prime agricultural farmland in Dufferin County, just north of Toronto, Ontario, also known as the Headwaters area because it is the source of several major rivers including the Grand, the Nottawasaga and the Pine.
“Local citizens, community-based groups and a number of environmentally concerned NGOs are upset and angry,” the release states. “They are calling on the McGuinty government to subject this mega quarry proposal to a Provincial Environmental Assessment. An official request was submitted to Ontario Environment Minister John Wilkinson last week by the law firm of Davis LLP, solicitors for the Citizen’s Alliance United for a Sustainable Environment (“CAUSE”).”
“The mega quarry proposal would entail the ongoing management of 600 million litres of water every day, FOREVER. The blasting and extraction of limestone would destroy farms that are made up of Honeywood Silt Loam, a unique ‘high land’ horticultural soil with its own classification in the Canadian Soil Registry. It would interfere with the source water of these major river systems and could place them at risk.”
“The massive scale and potentially devastating environmental impacts associated with such a large industrial extraction operation warrant the most comprehensive environmental review available,” contends Carl Cosack, a local area farmer and Vice-Chair of the North Dufferin Agricultural Community Task Force (“NDACT”). “I am confident that most Ontarians would be shocked to learn that the government has yet to decide to subject the largest open pit mine of its kind ever contemplated in Ontario to a proper environmental review, “ he added.
The Provincial Cabinet has the option of designating this project as an undertaking subject to the more appropriate and comprehensive Environmental Assessment Act. As it stands, the mega quarry proposal requires a zoning change under the Planning Act and a licence from the Ministry of Natural Resources under the Provincial Aggregate Resources Act. “Consideration of the mega quarry proposal under these two pieces of legislation deprives the people of Ontario of a comprehensive review of the potential impacts that it could have on the environment, and instead effectively punts the approvals process to the Ontario Municipal Board,” noted Dr. Harvey Kolodny, a Director of the Citizen’s Alliance United for a Sustainable Environment (“CAUSE”). “We are calling on the Premier to exercise his good judgement to ensure that the interests of Ontarians are properly addressed under the Environmental Assessment review process” Kolodny added.
Interested parties may wish to watch the video below and forward the link to friends. Although the deadline has passed for comments, it’s never too late for additional support letters. Write to the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and also the Ministry of the Environment at Queens Park, with a copy to the Premier.
Here’s the video URL:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cgS0m2XtBbI


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