NDACT engages on quarry proposal

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NDACT – the North Dufferin Agricultural and Community Taskforce – has been extended a rare opportunity to engage with a quarry proposal in the early planning stages.

The volunteer community advocacy group was part of a successful campaign to stop the mega quarry in Melancthon and subsequently launched the Food and Water First campaign.

They have been made aware of a proposal by Strada Aggregates, which is in the process of exploring the feasibility of converting its Shelburne pit – located at the 4th Line and County Road 17 in Melancthon – into a quarry, meaning it would quarry below the water table, something it once said it would not do.

Member Carl Cosack said Strada is asking NDACT to weigh in on their application and NDACT will be looking for community support for its proposal on how to engage with Strada, which will be revealed during an online community meeting Saturday.

He said this is a unique situation because public input is being sought prior to the application being complete. “You have to appreciate Strada for reaching out. If it is a public relations campaign, or if it really has some teeth to it, we will only tell as we move forward,” said Cosack. “Through the mega quarry we have learned so much about the water and its mystery about

how it moves under this huge plateau up here that anything to do with under the water table deserves attention.

Participants will be asked to vote on the plan as presented and NDACT will follow up with an online survey to seek further input.

“Very rarely do communities – it’s the first one that I know of–to be made aware of – a plan pre-application. It requires an out-of-the-box thinking from the community to say ok, we’ve been put on notice, do we wish to participate or not? And if we do, this is the vehicle, and if we don’t we shouldn’t complain after,” said Cosack.

Below-the-water-table extraction would affect the groundwater flowing through the aquifer beneath the fields of Melancthon. The defeated mega quarry posed a similar threat to the same aquifer, risking the drinking water for up to one million people and harming the water resources of nearby farmers who grow a bounty of food each year.

During a public meeting on Oct. 27, Strada Aggregates spokesperson Kevin Powers laid out the differences between the Shelburne quarry and the mega quarry, saying that it is one-tenth the size and extraction is two million tonnes per year, compared with the mega quarry’s planned 10 million tonnes per year.

Powers said the area contains the highest quality limestone used for aggregate in the province and that the footprint of the quarry is expected to be 250 acres, compared with the 2,316-acre mega quarry. He notes the mega quarry was planned on agricultural land and this proposal is for an existing gravel pit.

Strada is at the beginning stages of a licence application which could take a decade to complete, said Powers. He said many studies are being done to ensure there are no adverse impacts on groundwater and surface water.

If approved he said there is no expected change to haul routes, but there would be blasting at the site, perhaps once or twice per week.

“We wanted to be good neighbours. We wanted to be up front with the community that we are looking at this and that we are going to keep you in the loop as we move along,” said Powers. “Many of you want more answers and so do we. We make a commitment to share information as it becomes available.”

The North Dufferin Agricultural and Community Taskforce (NDACT) virtual community meeting is this Saturday, Jan. 15, from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

Sign in to the Zoom meeting at https://us02web. zoom.us/j/88513808450 or call in to 1-647-558- 0588. The webinar ID is 885 1380 8450.

The chat feature will be enabled in order to facilitate engagement by the community. Strada has been invited to the meeting.

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