NDACT seeks input for quarry engagement

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More than 150 people took part in a community meeting last Saturday to weigh in on NDACT’s proposed engagement with Strada Aggregates as it explores the possibility of applying for a licence to quarry below the water table at its pit in Melancthon.

Polls conducted during the virtual meeting showed strong support for NDACT’s proposal but an online survey will be active for the next week or so to collect more input.

Past president and community engagement liaison Carl Cosack said after the survey closes he expects NDACT will officially engage with

Strada to present the survey results and get their response to the proposal. NDACT – the North Dufferin Agricultural and Community Taskforce – is a grassroots group formed in 2009 by local farmers and residents to defend Melancthon’s prime farmland at the headwaters of five rivers from a proposed mega- quarry. After a successful campaign, NDACT continues to fight for farmland and source water by developing awareness, encouraging people power, and by promoting better legislation. NDACT is proposing to be included as participants in the development of the Aggregate Resources Act application with the condition that if it is confident that the “science is solid” it would not oppose the application. Cosack alluded to errors in the mega quarry application that makes NDACT dubious of the facts contained in future applications. He said, for example, the mega quarry application proposed to manage 600 million litres of water per day in perpetuity, which he considered ridiculous and would be a no-go if something similar was part of the Strada application.

NDACT is also proposing that Strada hire a community-trusted consultant who would be part of the team developing the application, and that NDACT will act as a communication conduit with the local community.

It proposes 10 cents per tonne of aggregate be contributed to the North Dufferin Community Centre renovation and would require Strada to establish a fund to handle all costs incurred by property owners who have unanticipated well issues and need funding to prove their case, and other specific funding commitments to be determined and negotiated.

“Strada’s response to this proposal will determine if the early reach-out for community involvement and application transparency is just a public relations stunt or if they truly respect this community,” said Cosack. “We sure will keep you informed as to the negotiations between Strada and NDACT. Transparency remains key.”

Strada has said it is exploring the viability of expanding operations to quarry 250 acres on its current site located at the 4th Line and County Road 17 in Melancthon.

Because no official application has been filed, NDACT does not have the details at hand but Strada has said it is proposing a quarry one-tenth the size of the mega quarry extracting two million tonnes per year, and that assessments and studies are being completed to understand the existing conditions and the potential of bedrock extraction below the water table.

“NDACT’s eyes are wide open,” said Cosack. “We have a handle on who the actual proponent is.” Strada Aggregates is part of the Condrain Group of companies, which services public and private sectors building sewers, tunnels, and watermains. The company absorbed the road division once known as Con-Strada which builds roads, parking structures, and highways.

A public engagement process is not required under the Aggregate Resources Act so NDACT is grateful for the outreach early in the process.

“As we all know, below the water table extraction can affect the groundwater flowing through the aquifer beneath the fields of Melancthon and can have an impact on the drinking water of potentially millions of people as well as possibly harming the resources of nearby farmers who grow our food,” said vice chair Brian Bell at the conclusion of the meeting. “For this reason NDACT would like to thank Strada Aggregates for reaching out and asking NDACT to engage with them on their quarry proposal in its early planning stages. Very rarely do communities get the opportunity to be made aware of a planned quarry pre-application and for that reason we greatly appreciate Strada’s offer to be good neighbours and to committing to share information as it becomes available.”

View the entire ‘NDACT community meeting on proposal to Strada Aggregates’ on YouTube, via NDACT Secretary. The survey is posted at NDACT. com.

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