Parties oppose minister’s support of road classification
Opponents of the reconstruction of the 26/27 Sideroad are criticizing a recent decision by the province that allows the Township of Clearview to proceed with next steps involved in the upgrading of the road and eventual closure of a portion of County Road 91 in Duntroon.
Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks Jeff Yurek said in a letter dated May 21 that after a thorough review the ministry confirms that the township correctly classified the project as a Schedule A+ under the Municipal Class Environmental Assessment. The classification is applied to projects that are limited in scale, have minimal adverse environmental effects, and do not have any study requirements under the assessment process.
Opponents have been lobbying for the municipality to be required to prepare a more stringent Schedule C Municipal Class Environmental Assessment.
The decision is the latest in a lengthy process that resulted in a road settlement after a tribunal was held for the Duntroon quarry expansion, which has been on the books for more than a decade. Even now, there are still more permits and approvals required before the project can go ahead.
Yurek writes that the More Homes, More Choice Act, passed in June 2019, exempts all Schedule A and any Part II Order requests for projects, such as the Sideroad 26/27 reconstruction, received before or after June 6, 2019, from the Environmental Assessment Act. The letter confirms that the project was correctly classified.
“Clearview Township can continue proceeding with its planning of the project…” writes Yurek. “Clearview Township must ensure the project is implemented in the manner it was developed and designed, as set out in these approval/decision documents, and inclusive of all mitigating measures, commitments and environmental and other provisions therein.”
The group Quarry Aware responded saying it is disappointed by Yurek’s comments.
It says, “Duntroon and Clearview Township residents, local environmental groups, and Grey County council have all advocated for a Schedule C Environmental Assessment to take place in advance of any construction on Nottawasaga Sideroad 26/27. The wetlands and the biome adjacent to the sideroad would be decimated by the invasive road widening and increased year-round traffic.”
Grey County Warden Paul McQueen said in a letter to the Niagara Escarpment Commission that county council continues to push for the Class C environmental assessment.
“Nothing presented within the last few years has demonstrated how this project is in the public interest or considered any alternatives. Enshrining these words in the amendments essentially neutralizes the important protections enshrined in sections 2.6, and 2.7 of the NEP with regard to water resources, and natural heritage features. No other previous amendments go that far, and approving these amendments would set a dangerous precedent and remove these protections during the permitting process,” writes McQueen.