Save 91 supporters ask parties to consider alternatives
Quarry Aware, a grassroots organization, has launched a petition urging Clearview Township and Walker Industries to consider alternatives to upgrading 26/27 Sideroad and closing a portion of County Road 91.
The petition has been signed by more than 1,400 people, mostly believed to be local people affected by the proposed roadwork.
Wendy Franks joined the opposition in 2008 when the initial quarry hearings started ramping up, and she is a party in the upcoming hearing for the 26/27 Sideroad development permit.
“The more I looked into it, the more I was shocked that something like this could happen on Niagara Escarpment lands,” said Franks of her reasons for getting involved.
She said the goal of the petition is to inform Clearview council about the views of the public.
“The deal was done in camera and there has been very little public consultation and the public is not happy with it, and it’s not a small number of people who are unhappy with it,” said Franks.
The petition, part of the Save 91 campaign, aims to put election pressure on the mayor and members of council.
“These are material numbers for the size of our community,” said Franks.
They are also asking both Clearview Township and Walker Industries to meet with Quarry Aware to consider alternatives, “because we have never seen any information on alternatives that were considered.”
“This does not work for the community,” said Franks. “We would welcome the opportunity to work through alternatives. We are very solution oriented. We are happy to sit through alternatives that would be amenable to Walker as well as the community.”
NEC staff recommended denying the permit because alternatives had not been considered .
“This is the responsibility of Clearview Council and Walker Industries. It is incumbent on Walker to also pay attention to the requests of the community in which they operate,” said Franks.
They would also like a fair market assessment done of the roadway. Franks has previously procured a legal opinion that Clearview Township breached the Municipal Act by providing a “bonus or undue advantage” by undervaluing the road sold to Walker Industries after it was downloaded from the county. It also states Clearview should have passed a bylaw declaring the road surplus before selling.
Franks believes the goal of Walker Industries is to get access to the rock under the roadway portion of the lands.
“I don’t have a problem with that,” said Franks. “I have a problem with 26/27 being destroyed, and that stretch of the Niagara Escarpment being destroyed.”
Upgrades to 26/27 were agreed upon a decade ago by the County of Simcoe, Clearview Township and Walker Aggregates when a deal was struck to close a portion of County Road 91 and transfer ownership to the quarry to facilitate its expansion. The expansion has proceeded while the roadwork that would create an alternative route for County Road 91 has been held up in legal proceedings. The Niagara Escarpment Commission has denied Clearview’s application to develop 26/27. Later this year there will be a tribunal to hear matters relating to Clearview’s appeal of the permit denial and an application for an amendment to the Niagara Escarpment Plan (NEP).
“The rock under the road is not licensed for extraction and therefore we will not be excavating it. To mine the rock would require a new license application,” said Walker Industries director of communications Sabrina Paiva.
“As for road closure, ownership of the road allowance would be transferred to Walker upon the completion of 26/27 Sideroad as part road agreement,” she said. “It’s important to remember that the road agreement was not initiated by Walker. Walker received the road allowance as par of the $7.5 million it gave the township to do the road improvements. The purpose of the road closure was to eliminate some traffic from County Road 91 so it could meet the design that would be acceptable to the NEC while maintaining a safe road for the community.”
Ontario Land Tribunals is preparing for a lengthy process and have scheduled a hearing for Nov. 8 to Dec. 17.