Melancthon Mega-quarry Presentation

July 8th, 2011

Carl Cosack Presentation on Mega-quarry

“It is indeed an honour to be invited to speak to you tonight. You likely have no idea how important your organization has become, not only on the much trumpeted international stage, but on a very local stage as well. With great sincerity I can bring you a heartfelt “Thank you“ from a group of people who do not often step out into the public eye to ask for help, or acknowledge, through speeches like this one, how grateful they are for the help so generously brought by you to your neighbours of the Township of Melanchton and North Dufferin.

For us, most of our involvement in politics would be to go to the School Board or the local Council meeting. We are a community who always votes in every election. Outside of that, most everyone minds their own business, helps their neighbour in times of need and if it is a slow news day, the attitude is that if you have not heard a good story that day, start a story of your own.

This is how that works. In times gone past we used to run a lot of cattle, close to 1ooo head in the late 80’s. I once walked up to a trucker who was loading steers at the Ranch, and asked him how many goats could fit on that truck? That is all that was said that day, 3 month later at an auction barn I overheard people discussing that Peace Valley Ranch was getting out of the cattle business and into the goat business.

I call us neighbours because this issue has forged new definitions of many things that we thought of differently before the 3100 plus page application was filed by the Highland Companies.

All of a sudden everyone downstream became a neighbour instantly because we all realized that water connects us all. I for one sure took water for granted all my life, only trips to Nebraska and Colorado showed me, with clarity, that I should not.

Before May 31st 1985 I took my life, and hydro, for granted, the Tornado of that year changed all that in a mere 90 seconds, a natural disaster of unequalled power, and unpredictable consequence.

This Mega open pit Mine application threatens us all with consequences of unequalled magnitude, yet these very consequences are totally predictable. This is not a threat of nature, this is a manmade threat and because of that, it is stoppable. And we will stop this insane attempt at the redefinition of our larger community and we will not stand for not having our voices heard when decisions are made that irreversibly change the livability of our communities, both close and far.

In preparation for tonight I asked a reporter friend of mine for advice on how to present this difficult and emotional Highland Companies proposed Mega Quarry issue. His advice was really simple, “Carl, present the facts and loose the spin. People are smart enough to see spin and to recognize truth, and truth will win.” I promise you to do just that.

We would like to play the Highland Companies promotional video which has been delivered to every resident in Melanchton, and has been used when their representatives have made their pitches to government and commenting/approving agencies.

http://www.highlandcompanies.ca/index.php/about/melancthon_video/

I will highlight only 10 areas of concern.

And please do me this favour, when there are sections in the DVD that we do not comment on that does not mean we agree with the information presented, there just is not enough time here today to point out all the obvious promotional spin. Now, as you watch the DVD, listen for some key phrases:

“When” and “if”, “might, and “assuming”, “expected”, “may”, “when warranted”, “would”, “could”, “we believe”, and “our”

Yellow Zone picture:

The central production area referred to is 40 years into the future, maybe in 2060. The reality is that the application is planning to put a crushing plant into each of the four cells right from the start. The project will have a wing span of over 5 km in width and a depth 236 ft from top of berm to mine floor. That is almost 1.5 times the depth of the water falling at Niagara Falls. It falls 167 ft. As you watch the DVD, you will learn that all extraction will start in the south and work in a northerly direction. If approved they will start blasting at the most southerly point of each cell. Those actions certainly will not DECREASE the amount of noise and dust, as they will say on this DVD in a few seconds. And there won’t be any mature tree lines to protect anyone for another 40 years.

Groundwater Management System and Berms:”installed”

Since this type, size and depth of open pit mine has not been built anywhere in Ontario, and to the best of my knowledge not anywhere in North America, they cannot make the claim of “proven water management system”.

In its comment letter, page 7, point “d” the Grand River Conservation Authority states that the applications “Milton Quarry proven concept” is merely a proposal with “one” test well, whose results are not yet conclusive. The Highland Companies, in the estimation of the GRCA, would need 535 “Recirculation Wells”.

Fact is that any attempt at managing this amount of water is purely speculative science.

Now they mentioned the berms, built from the soil that grows our food. The overburden is going to be stripped to a depth of 30 ft, that is more than the height of a 3 storey building, and they will scrape 100’s of acres of this horticultural soil to build those berms. The soil and subsoil mixed and compacted, never again will it be what it is today.

Basic Crops and Sparse vegetation:

So, BASIC CROPS, as they refer to them, are potatoes, broccoli, brussel sprouts, rhubarb, beans and peas, strawberries and maple syrup, to name some. All foods we all eat. Yes, potatoes are currently a major crop and there are enough spuds grown on these horticultural soils to deliver 25lbs of locally grown potatoes to every man woman and child in the greater Metro Toronto area.

SPARSE VEGETATION, no wonder since for the last five years they have cut trees and have taken out fence bottoms and “previously existing ‘natural linkages.

Talking about ‘natural linkages’, wildlife travels across farms now; it will never travel across an open pit mine that has industrial processing going on 24 hrs/day and 7 days/wk.

Water:”our community”

This water is not just for “our community” but this water resource serves about 1 Million people.

As you watch this segment please count how many pumps you see, and how many water settlement areas, those areas where water is held to allow the containments that have been picked up by the water entering the mine, to settle out. If I understand the application right, they would need to have enough water storage on site to handle a three day supply, each day 600 Million liters for a 3 day total of 1.8 billion liters, or the equivalent  of the daily consumption of about 8 Million Ontarians.

“As an aside to this, I learned recently that in the US cities are regulated to built underground water storages instead of the often ‘lake’ style reservoirs. That is to safeguard the quality of their drinking water. And here, in this case, the Highland Companies are exposing previously underground clean water to manmade influences and the above ground environment, a plan that is clearly not instep with how policy is developing or what the people of Ontario deserve.”

As you watch this, be aware that “ready mix concrete making” and “aggregate recycling” is part of this application, but never mentioned in this video. So all the contaminants that will be trucked back into the mine from wherever, will be washed by rain and snow and that wash water will also end up in your drinking water. The 600 Million liter daily management figure comes straight from their application at “Hydrological Assessment report, volume 1, page 14”.

Crushing, Screening and Washing

This map is found in a Water Management supplement identified as 03j-10 of 12 of their application.

These are the “Basal Ditches” that collect the water, running north and south. These are the pumps and recirculation piping and wells. Note that this recirculation scenario is running between two empty cells. Shale floor on the bottom, how is this water going to recharge anything, as I see it, the triangle shaped berm will just saturate and collapse.

When you think back to the DVD, I am particularly impressed by the picture of the young lady drinking clean water from the fountain, as if to say that that water is possible because of this mega open pit mine. Truth is the water is so clean and fresh because the rock is NOT disturbed; the topsoil in NOT removed and the Highland Companies have NOT been blasting the heck out of Melanchton.

Balanced System:

The man on the CD makes no mention of the Melanchton Wetland Complex as identified by the NVCA:

http://www.nvca.on.ca/ws_par/groups/public/@pub/@nvca/documents/web_content/wspar_016719.pdf

These Wetlands are located just North West of this proposed open pit mine.

The Highland Companies do not consider the Grand River to the west or the Nottawasaga River to the north, both I argue, start just outside the property lines. They ask you to believe, that if you dig a 200 ft deep hole, over 5 km wide, that water from around that excavated area is not going to be drawn towards that hole. Anyone who has ever played with gravy and mashed potatoes as a kid will know that this is just NOT TRUE. The Highland Companies consider that those water reserves outside of their immediate property lines will not be affected by this development. They show the same delusion when they are stating in their application that, since they are no schools in the Township, they do not have to consider a School bus safety study, yet their haul routes are also bus routes.

Evapotranspiration:”recharged” (Water out):

“Recharged”, why not call it what it is, “re-circulated open pit mine floor water”. They state on the CD that water will be pumped out at the same rate as it enters. Like a sump pump in your basement. Their application states that water will come in from everywhere, rain, snow, seepage, ground water, underground rivers and from caverns in the karst that will become drained. This water will run through the mine, pick up oil from engines and equipment,  contaminants from exposure to man and manmade activity, then it will be pumped back into the ground water system, and then YOU are expected to make it your drinking water.

Their application states that they are anticipating managing 600 Million liters per day, about the same amount as 2.7 Million Ontarians consume daily! Never a mechanical breakdown, or acts of Nature, but they have a system that will operate fool prove until the end of time. No “worst case scenario”, how to handle accidents and unanticipated circumstance, are part of the application. Did they not learn from BP, the Exxon Valdez, Mississauga’s train derailment, the 1985 tornado, or Walkerton, and countless other human miscalculations, human error and Act’s of Mother Nature worldwide?

Nowhere in their application do they state that they will monitor for bacterial contamination and since they do not monitor, there is also nothing being said on how they would solve the problem.

Bradford:

Comparing this to Bradford and the Holland Marsh. Every one of you can go and drive by the Holland Marsh, and if you take the 400 highway north from highway 9, you will drive through the Holland Marsh.  Most of you have been to Niagara Falls, you get the picture.  It’s like comparing a small car to the space shuttle and calling them both the same type of personal transportation. The land lost will not be rehabilitated and it insults your intelligence when they state otherwise. Even the Minister of Natural Resources Ms. Jeffrey stated to the Major and Deputy Major of Melanchton that the best they could hope for is a golf course. And that was said before the application had even been dropped.

To pump that much water, all 600 Million liters of it, would cost, in 2011 dollars, about 6 Million a year, or about twice the current total budget of the Township of Melanchton. Another way to look at this is that it would cost about $4,500 per acre/year, which is in 2011 dollars, not in 2060 dollars. There is not a legal crop around that would return enough money to do this. And when the stone is all gone, they promise to be there, forever and ever and look after their community.

Leaving the site:

Parking on a roadway is illegal, why do they say how they are the good guys by getting the trucks off the road? No mention is made what becomes of the water that washes 36oo loaded trucks per day, will that just become part of the “recharge water”? Did they not say earlier that industrial water taking in aggregate operations is directly contributing to the health of Ontarians?

Markets:

Throughout the DVD they talk about the demand in the “Greater Golden Horseshoe” (GGH) area, and how Ontario needs this aggregate to prosper. They have not proven the demand, the “need” study has not been supplied and I could not find their rational for the train going south.

This letter, written by John Lowndes, was found in the “Native Consultation report”, page 37 of 72, and it states that they are making arrangements to take the train through to Owen Sound; their application has not shown where the product is going. If it is going on the train to Owen Sound, it is not headed to Greater Golden Horseshoe (GGH).

Melanchton Quarry:

The Melanchton Quarry, as you have just witnessed in their presentation, does not consider as significant this horticultural soil, soil so rare that it has its own “Soil Classification” in the Canadian Soil Registry, nor does it consider 600 Million Liters of water per day as significant. It does not recognize the community as a whole, and does not show that they have razed more than 30 farmsteads thus depopulating the area and have destroyed thousands of trees.

And my last word of caution. You have to know that we are dealing with investors from a US investment fund, that the face of the Highland Companies, Michael Daniher, does not live here and has no vested interest in this community at all. It is just a job for him and when he is done here he will go and offer his services to another company with a PR problem. John Lowndes and him are promising local jobs, but have not done an economic impact study for the tourism industries in Collingwood and Wasaga Beach  and how many jobs will be lost because tourism will not compete with  7,200 trucks per day. The rail is not an option since train crossings at roadways would hold up traffic for up to 13 hours a day. Millions of dollars are promised to governments of all jurisdictions.

Every community, and its way of life, has the right that its values are not drastically altered by decisions driven by private business interest considering Mega Style industrial extractive development.

NDACT’s position has been clear from the beginning. There cannot be any, no matter what size, below the water table excavation of aggregate in the highlands of Dufferin County, which is called the roof of Ontario for a reason. A roof is meant to protect everything below it, just as the roof of your house is, and a roof is not meant to shelter raccoons or other rodents.

The Highland Companies business depends on secrecy in order to do its business – their true, exclusive, interest is to maximize their shareholders return … that is a very different position from where the public interest lies with regard to water safety, local food availability, economic development, public safety and the ability for communities to raise their children in an environment that excludes heavy industrial development.

We all remember Bernie Madoff and the various ponzi schemes and rip off artists that have made news headlines in the last few years. The Highland Companies and its parent Company, 319574 Nova Scotia Company, are lobbying government and commenting agencies for the approval of the North Dufferin open pit mega mine.

They have their head office listed at this address:

1063 King Street West, Hamilton, ON L8S 4S3 – Courier Service storefront

and the suite they occupy as Suite 234. – Mailbox inside Courier Service store

Are these the people and companies that we are going to entrust our greater communities’ future and safety with?

You people are a powerful force, please continue making your voice heard; we will not back off and get railroaded into something that is not right for us, or the province.

Here are things we all can do:

-leave your comments at the EBR site, open because Minister of Natural Resources Linda Jeffrey has extended that period until July 11, and ask for a full individual provincial Environmental Assessment. This unprecedented application deserves unprecedented scrutiny.

http://www.ebr.gov.on.ca/ERS-WEB-External/displaynoticecontent.do?noticeId=MTEyNTY2&statusId=MTY4ODI5&language=en

-Display a sign and engage people in conversation

-Write a note to John Wilkinson, Minister of the Environment and ask him to designate this file for a full review.

jwilkinson.mpp.co@liberal.ola.org John Wilkinson, Minister of the Environment

-Ask your local MP to support David Tilson’s call for a federal Environmental Assessment since this industrial development will impact the ‘cold water fisheries’, the ‘rail transportation’ and ‘ocean going vessels’, all triggers for a federal EA. Support has been received from MP Chung on this and we thank him for that for sure.

-Organize an event or attend one that others organize. Look at the tremendous boost this issue has gotten from the walk organized by our brothers and sisters from the First Nations. A gathering is planned at the Ministry of the Environment in the near future, come and join the Pow Wow if you can.

I know I do not have to tell you how to protest or raise awareness of an issue. Your very own Kendrew Pape clued me in when I met him in Horning’s Mills at Highland’s mandatory ‘Open House”. I told him how appreciative we were of all the Unitarians effort and he gave me this look and said: “We are all old Hippies, of course we know how to do this!!”

Local politicians have responded with tremendous effort to the call of their constituents to get involved. The city of Waterloo is preparing comments against this development, the city of Guelph is preparing a statement calling for more scrutiny, Toronto is debating a resolution to call for an EA, yesterday MPP Leanne Pendergast and MPP Donna Cansfield both called for a review of the Aggregate Resource Act, MP David Tilson and MP Chung are engaged. The city of Hamilton has sent an objection letter, the Town of Caledon is involved, the Town of Innisfil is responding, the support has been strong. Send your local politician a ‘thank you’ note; write a short ‘Thank you’ to them as a letter to the editor. People who make decisions on our behalf should know that when they choose the side of clean water, clean air and local food, well, the side of LIFE, that we support their work and will remember it at election time. Mike Schreiner, leader of the provincial Green Party has worked diligently on this issue and has put his, and his parties, objections on record, we truly appreciate his efforts.

Thank you so much for giving this topic your time and effort, your support is tremendously important not only by showing decision makers that there are voices to be heard and reckoned with, but also because your support gives such a boost in morale for the folks in Melanchton and neighbouring Mulmur. You are teaching us how to partake in our bigger neighbourhood and the leadership you have shown us will be repaid many times over, I promise you that.

Thank you indeed and God Bless.”

Carl Cosack

Our very knowledgeable speaker for the evening, Mr. Carl Cosack.

Mega-quarry presentation audience.

It was a packed house for the Melancthon mega-quarry presentation.

Posted in Food Protection, Latest News, Water | Comments (3)

3 Responses to “Melancthon Mega-quarry Presentation”

  1. Dania Madera-Lerman Says:

    Thank you very much for all the hard work you are doing to help stop this insane proposal and to protect the environment for this generation and for all that come after us. May the great spirit be always with you. Thank you again with all my heart.
    Dania

  2. Alexander DeFehr Says:

    I am very appreciative of al the work that is being done, but one thing that has to be understood is the railway is NOT a bad thing. It is a much cleanner alternitive to trucking; it could even be carbon-nutral if electric locomotives were used like on the BC Tumbler Subdivision. The railway would also provide for the ability for local buisnesses (and farmers) to ship their products to larger markets at a reduced price. If god-forbid the quarry does go through I think it is essential that rail transport is essential. The revival of the Owen Sound Sub and mabey even the Walkerton Sub would be essential in the event of the quarry is constructed.

  3. Donna Deneault Says:

    Dear Carl, we watched TVO tonight with you and Michael Stadtlander and Steve Paikin and the others. We were so proud of your words. Moreen actually irked us when she said how you and Michael had driven there on nicely paved roads, as she sipped her clean drinking water. No one is saying we don’t need aggregate. We are only saying that it cannot be mined in a location where precious farmland and Headwaters for five rivers will be put at risk ! I and my family live in the GTA, but we will fight alongside of you and yours until this quarry is put to rest.
    Sincerely, Donna Deneault, Toronto, ON

Leave a Reply