Megaquarry Water Impact

April 24th, 2011

Guelph officials examining massive quarry proposal

GUELPH — City staff are analyzing a proposed quarry more than 60 kilometres from here to determine whether Guelph should take an official position on it.

“We’re trying to put some summary information together for council and we hope to have it for (the council meeting) next Tuesday,” Peter Busatto, the city’s general manager of water services, said.

The Highland Companies is seeking permission to open an enormous 2,300-acre limestone quarry just north of Shelburne in Melancthon Township.

Guelph resident Karen Balcom recently wrote to Mayor Karen Farbridge and city councillors, asking them to have staff examine the quarry proposal and to contact Premier Dalton McGuinty and the Ministry of Natural Resources to seek an extension to the deadline for public comments, which is next Tuesday.

Busatto said the staff report will also comment on whether the city should seek an extension.

Balcom said in an interview she learned of the quarry proposal through her involvement with the Unitarian Church, which maintains a campground and retreat centre very close to the proposed site.

She is concerned because the proposed quarry would be located on the Amabel-Lockport-Guelph aquifer, “which is critical to the water security and water safety of the people of Guelph and … much of southwestern Ontario.”

The proposed pit will be 60 metres (200 feet) in depth — well below the water table — requiring the operators to pump a reported 600 million litres of water from the quarry each day. Highland has said it will pump that water back into the aquifer (water table), but opponents are concerned about the water being exposure to dirt, diesel fuel and blasting residue before it is pumped back into the ground.

“The water issues are just astounding,” Balcom said. “The scale and scope of this proposal are just stunning.”

Busatto said city officials are primarily concerned about the impact the water-taking could have, “because we are wholly reliant on groundwater. That’s the key issue.”

Melancthon Township Mayor Bill Hill shares this concern.

In a recent letter to McGuinty, Hill noted his township is at the headwaters of five major rivers — including the Grand — “and the impact of this project will affect approximately one million Ontarians downstream from our township.”

In an interview, Hill said it is believed the proposed quarry would be the largest in Canada and second-largest in North America.

Hill said he met recently with Natural Resources Minister Linda Jeffrey and came away from the meeting feeling the province is ready to “rubber stamp” the quarry proposal.

“I certainly wasn’t excited about our meeting with her, let’s put it that way,” the mayor said.

Hill said he is concerned about the potential impact of the proposal on groundwater, and there are also local concerns related to noise, dust and traffic.

But he insisted it is more than a “not in my backyard” situation.

“Move this anywhere in Ontario,” Hill said. “Say you’re going to have a 2,300-acre hole in the ground 200 feet deep and five kilometres long and I imagine it would have a significant impact no matter where you put it.”


Marching for the land and the water

Farmers and First Nations on second day of a five day march against hedge fund mega-quarry

Brampton – Orangeville – Shelburne – Jim Black’s potato farm

23 April 2011

Brampton, ON- Dozens of people marched from the outskirts of Toronto through Brampton today on the second of a five day trek against a proposed 2316-acre mega-quarry to be situated in Melancthon, just north of Shelburne, Ontario. Local residents, farmers and First Nations representatives started with a rally at Queens Park in Toronto on Friday and plan to finish on Tuesday at a potato farm next to the proposed site on Highway 124.

If allowed to proceed, the mega-quarry would be the second-largest in North America and would destroy prime farmland in the heart of Ontario’s potato-growing region known for its Honeywood Silt Loam, a rare type of soil that is particularly suited to potato cultivation.

“The American hedge fund that wants this quarry now owns over 8,000 acres in the area,” says Ralph Armstrong, a farmer whose land, adjacent to the proposed quarry site, has been handed down for 6 generations. “My neighbours who sold before there was any talk of a quarry just can’t believe that anyone would put a giant open pit mine in soil this good. We take our food security for granted but now we have got foreign governments buying up farmland in Canada and the U.S. to assure themselves of a food supply in coming years. These American bankers have come up here with a get-rich plan that will annihilate some of the most productive land in our country. Do we as Canadians really want to let that happen?”

Carl Cosack, a local cattle and horse rancher, is worried the mega-quarry will harm water supplies “It will destroy productive farmland and threaten the headwaters of three important rivers- the Grand, the Nottawasaga and the Pine- which are water sources for one million people” he said. “They plan to dig 200 feet below the water table -that’s deeper than Niagara Falls- and a quarter of the area of downtown Toronto and they claim it won’t have a negative impact. It is simply not credible.”

Mark Calzavara of the advocacy group The Council of Canadians, joined the marchers as they travelled up Hurontario Street. “We need to make smarter choices than we have made in the past about our farmland,” says Calzavara. “A mega-quarry may be more profitable than a farm today but we need to think about the next generations too. Where will their food come from? At what point do we say “no” to this kind of short-term thinking?”

More information:!/group.php?gid=98096578979

Posted in Water | Comments (0)

Leave a Reply