Sunday, December 4, 2011

AGM

Mark your calendar now for GABP's Annual General Meeting on Saturday, April 21 at the Flesherton Kinplex. Stay tuned for more details; your board has some great ideas up their sleeves.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Thank You.

The board of GABP thanks everyone who attended our first World Town Planning Day Event. We were extremely pleased with the numbers who turned out, despite the foggy weather. GABP is planning future similar events in other parts of the County; to assist us going forward, tell us what you liked or didn't like about last  night's presentation.

A big thank you goes to Dan Best, Scott Taylor and Peggy Hutchison, our speakers. Thanks also go to Bill Celhoffer for chairing the evening and Chris and Mike Kirby for managing the door.

Please leave a comment. We are listening.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Today is World Town Planning Day

Join us this evening at the Flesherton Kinplex at 7 pm for A Grey County World Town Planning Day Event. See the flyer here. Check our earlier posts for more information.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Tuesday, November 8 is almost here.

We hope to see you at our World Town Planning Day Event tomorrow.
If you aren't sure how to get to the Flesherton Kinplex, check the Grey County Map to the right.
The  blue "i" marks the spot.  Zoom in to see exact location. For more information see our previous posts.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Land Use Planning - Who Cares?

Land use planning may seem an abstract and irrelevant concept most of the time, that is until a specific land use is proposed for a specific location, catching local residents by surprise and leaving them feeling threatened, angry and frustrated. For many, if not most, this is their introduction to land use planning.

It doesn't have to be this way. 

How does the planning process work in Grey County? in Grey Highlands? in Southgate? Chatsworth or any other municipality? Is the process the same for a severance as it is for a quarry or a subdivision? How does an individual find out what's going on before the process is already well under way? What voice does an individual or a group of neighbours have in the process?  When there is disagreement, is an OMB hearing inevitable? Where is the means for a community to articulate and guide its vision for its future?

Find out the answers to these and other planning questions at:

GABP - World Town Planning Day Event
Tuesday, November 8 at 7 pm
Flesherton Kinplex

Our speakers bring abundant knowledge and experience from their different perspectives:
  • Scott Taylor, professional planner with the County of Grey, 
  • Dan Best, Chief Administrative Officer of the Municipality of Grey Highlands and 
  • Peggy Hutchison, founding member and past president of GABP. 
This event is an amazing opportunity to learn more about the planning process and how it affects you, your neighbours, your community. We look forward to seeing you at the Flesherton Kinplex on November 8th at 7 pm.

Monday, October 24, 2011

World Town Planning Day Comes to Grey County

On Tuesday, November 8th 
at 7 pm at the Flesherton Kinplex
GABP is hosting an experts' panel and Q&A session to celebrate World Town Planning Day,
And you're invited.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Blue Mountain Watershed Trust Foundation Participant Statement

On Monday, October 17, Don Kerr skillfully presented the objections of the BMWTF to the proposed MAQ quarry at the OMB hearing. They oppose the quarry because:
  1. The hydrogeology and hydrology have not been adequately investigated. The ecosystem of this site extends into the Niagara Escarpment Plan area.
  2. Even if the AMP (Adaptive Management Plan) is fixed, MNR has insufficient resources to analyze and enforce it.
  3. The totally inadequate setbacks from the wetlands  will seriously threaten wildlife. The insufficient setback from the Heart’s Tongue Fern will threaten at least some of the colony.
  4. The likelihood of changes in the water levels within the Rob Roy Wetland Complex is too great for long term survival of this valuable habitat.
  5. The habitat of the threatened Bobolink will be impacted negatively.
  6.  The quarry application will cause serious loss of biodiversity.
  7. The precautionary principle has not been applied.
  8. The application is not consistent with the PPS.
The BMWTF submission is thoroughly researched and convincing, drawing support from the Provincial Policy Statement and the Natural Heritage Reference Manual. It is well worth reading in its entirety, however feel free to skip the preamble and start right in at  Our Interest in the Matter.


MAQ OMB Recessed

No more sessions until November 8 at 10 pm.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Owen Sound Sun Times

Grey Sauble Conservation Authority environmental  planner, Andy Sorensen, gave his evidence and was cross examined by MAQ's lawyer on Friday, October 7. Reporter, Don Crosby, was in attendance and his article appeared in the Sun Times as well as the Markdale Standard. You can read his article here.

Participants Statements begin October 17

The Watershed Trust's Board of Directors member, Don Kerr, will be presenting the Trust's Participant Statement to the Ontario Municipal Board on Mon Oct 17. If you can, please attend to support the Trust and the opposition Parties, Grey Matters Community Group Inc. and Grey Association for Better Planning. The location of the hearing is the Osprey Community Centre, 494196 Grey County Road 2 in Feversham. The start time is likely 10:00 AM.
In addition, John Cowan, Wendy Franks, Clearview Community Coalition and others will be presenting statements to the Board on Monday and Tuesday, October 17 and 18.

Change for October 14

Daryl Cowell, karst expert for Grey Matters will be cross examined this Friday, October 14. One of the key failings of the MAQ application is the lack of understanding of the karst below the proposed quarry site;  this in turn leads to cumulative errors in assessment and protection of hydrogeological conditions on and off the site, the Rob Roy Wetland Complex, and species of birds and amphibians on the property. Cross examination will likely be rigourous. 

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

MAQ OMB Schedule

This much we know so far:

Wed. Oct. 5: Grey Matters - Daryl Cowell, karst expert
Thurs. Oct. 6: Not in session
Friday, Oct. 7: Grey Matters - Andy Sorensen, Grey Sauble Conservation Authority

Tuesday, Oct. 11: Grey Matters - Bob Bowles, naturalist
Wednesday, Oct. 12: Cross Examination
Thursday, Oct. 13: Not in session
Friday, Oct. 14: Grey Matters - Cross examination: Daryl Cowell, karst expert

Monday, Oct. 17: Participant's statements
Tuesday, Oct. 18: Participant's statements

Monday, October 3, 2011

MAQ OMB Hearing News

The OMB hearing into the MAQ Quarry application resumes Tuesday, Oct. 4 at 10 am at the Osprey Community Centre in Feversham. Last week the Board heard the evidence of hydrogeologist, Wilf Ruland, a witness for Grey Matters. Mr. Ruland made a strong case that an incomplete and inaccurate assessment of groundwater in the Provincially Significant Wetland - the Rob Roy Complex, has led to a series of miscalculations and an underestimation of the negative impacts of quarrying on the MAQ property. The consequent mitigation measures, outlined in the proposed Adaptive Management Plan, are therefore basically flawed and do not provide for adequate wetland and groundwater protection, in his opinion.

According to Mr. Ruland, the lack of understanding of groundwater can be partially attributed to an incomplete knowledge of the karstic conditions on site. Beyond a visual inventory of several springs and sinkholes on the subject property, an investigation into the direction and volume of underground karstic flow has not been done. Whether water impacted by quarrying runs into the Beaver River, the Pretty River or nearby wells is anybody's guess at this point. Mr. Daryl Cowell, karst expert for Grey Matters, will begin presenting his evidence on Tuesday.

Hearings are open to the public. Come for a few hours or longer to show support for the positions of GABP and Grey Matters; you will definitely learn something about the planning process and the science underlying the issue of aggregate extraction. Future dates, times and witnesses TBA. Stay tuned.

For more information about the MAQ Quarry application, click the MAQ label in the right sidebar of this site. Also check out the Grey Matters website.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Keppel Quarry Update

GABP has filed an appeal against the Niagara Escarpment Commission’s decision in the conditional approval of a Niagara Escarpment Development Permit for the Sutherland Construction Ltd. Keppel Quarry expansion. In addition, the NEC  has referred the application to the Environmental Review Tribunal for a hearing.

Background
GABP commented on the application in March of 2009 when the application was received by the Niagara Escarpment Commission. Subsequently, Sutherland went to the Minister of Natural Resources and requested a license. The Minister handed the matter to the Ontario Municipal Board. In July 2009 GABP attended the OMB pre-hearing and were granted party status, as were Grey County and the NEC. After numerous pre-hearings, it was agreed that the OMB process would stop while the NEC completed its review of the application. In October 2010, the NEC retained Dr. Ken Howard to provide a peer review of the hydrogeological studies, which was submitted on March 2011.

In the interim, the application has changed. The size of the excavation is now smaller and further from the wetlands, but there is a new extraction piece adjacent to the existing site.

Dr. Howard’s report was critical of the work that had not been done. He agreed with Ministry of the Environment and Ministry of Natural Resources that a groundwater model needed to be done, to show how the water moves through the site. The model would help predict how excavation below the water table would impact the adjacent wetlands. The model would also help determine how much water would result from dewatering, how much water would NOT go to wetlands and therefore may be required to keep them “wet”, how much water would be going to Park Head Creek via the karstic feature. Sutherland’s team did some of the work that Howard recommended, but they did not prepare a model. 

On August 10, 2011, the NEC staff circulated their report, addendum report and notice of an August 18, 2011 meeting in Georgetown. Peggy Hutchison attended and heard the comments of Dennis Shouldice, and site neighbour, Garnet Cramp, among other members of the public. The NEC accepted the report, with some changes to the buffer area and to the hours of operation, by a vote of 8 – 5. Dennis Shouldice has researched and prepared a huge file that was submitted to the Commission but not circulated. (Learn more about the objections to the Keppel Quarry.)

THE NEC decision has 35 conditions. However, there are still some outstanding issues which are not in the decision and there are some loose ends in the conditions of the decision. GABP in consultation with Dennis Shouldice have identified the following issues which form the basis of GABP's appeal.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Grey Highlands Water Wastewater Servicing Master Plan

Municipal services for the Beaver Valley? That is the vision of Mayor Wayne Fitzgerald and the Council of Grey Highlands. It is just one phase of a grand plan to pipe water to the Beaver Valley Ski Club recreation area, Flesherton, Eugenia and the lower valley and take waste from these locations to one of the three existing treatment facilities. Grey Highlands Council has approved the expenditure of $96 800 to proceed with the Regional Water and Wastewater Systems Plan which includes a Class B Environmental Assessment. 


For more information see the  Grey Highlands Public Utility Report and the Genivar budget and timeline of the assessment and master plan. 


On Tuesday, June 28 Grey Highlands Council held a public meeting to outline the rationale and the process of the Water and Wastewater Servicing Master Plan. Ross Slaughter, engineer with Genivar made a powerpoint presentation which was followed by questions from the audience. There will be at least two more public meetings during this preliminary phase of the project. 

Beaver Valley Village Update

According to the Municipality of Grey Highlands CAO, Dan Best, the proponent, Mr. Kiener is working with the Grey Highlands planning consultant to come up with an adjusted plan of a maximum of 16 units that would fall within the existing development area. "The idea is to ensure that we have a suitable development that maximizes the site for future development once services are available in the valley", said Mr. Best. He also emphasized to Mr. Kiener that the concern of the local residents' group, the Beaver Valley Ratepayers Association, is sustainable development that is respectful of the environment, including "the protection of water in the valley in the absence of services coming out to the valley." Mr. Best went on to say, "it appears there is common ground from all parties on this point."

MAQ Quarry Update


MAQ quarry

Background
In 2006, M.A.Q. Aggregates Inc (MAQ) applied under the Aggregate Resources Act for a Class A, Category 2 license to extract aggregate from below the water table on approximately 61 ha of a 100 ha property located just within the eastern boundary of Grey County in the former Osprey Township now part of Grey Highlands (see location on Grey County map in sidebar). After consultation with the MNR, the extraction area has been reduced to approximately 40 ha. MAQ proposes to extract one million tones of aggregate per year. MAQ studies, reports and peer reviews are available on the Grey County website.

The proponents have appealed to the Ontario Municipal Board, under the Planning Act,  against the failure of the Council of the County of Grey and the Municipality of Grey Highlands to amend the official plans to redesignate and rezone the subject lands. After a few prehearings, the hearings began in earnest on August 10, 2011 and will likely continue into October of this year. Grey Matters, a recently incorporated local citizens group is contesting the quarry application. Donnelly Law is representing Grey Matters. GABP has party status and is being well represented by Peggy Hutchison.

Issues
The site is in close proximity to the existing Walker quarry and adjacent to the proposed Walker extension. It is in the area of a provincially significant wetland, the Rob Roy Wetland Complex. The presence of significant woodland and threatened and endangered species and significant wildlife habitat add to the list of potential negative impacts of quarrying in this location.
To see a more detailed description go to the Grey Matters website.

GABP’s issues list:

  1. What are the risks associated with quarrying below the water table and have these risks been adequately considered and mediated?
  2. Are the remediation measures consistent with the precautionary principle?
  3. How will quarrying impact the Provincially Significant Wetlands and adjacent lands?
  4. Is the Adaptive Management Plan adequate and is it enforceable? How will monitoring and enforcement issues of shared jurisdictions for groundwater and surface water be resolved between two Conservation Authorities?

To see the complete issues list of all opposition parties, click here.

Current News
The proponents’ side has completed its arguments and been cross-examined by lawyers for Grey Matters. Peggy has taken advantage of the opportunity to ask questions of the witnesses on a few occasions. The Board has heard from the MAQ hydrologist, hydrogeologists, karst expert, groundwater modeling expert, biologist, naturalist, transportation engineer, an MNR supervisor and the MAQ planner. The next round begins on Monday September 26 and will consist of the evidence from the expert witnesses for the opponent, Grey Matters, beginning with Wilf Ruland (hydrogeologist) and Daryl Cowell (karst expert). The proponents’ expert evidence, which predicts “no negative impact” in the long term, will be called into question.  As Board Chair, Susan Campbell, stated in her decision on the Rockfort Quarry, "... a proponent of development has the onus of demonstrating no negative impact. Objectors to a development need not demonstrate that there will be negative impact."


Monday, September 19, 2011

GABP Activity

GABP has been very busy since the last blog post.

We are a party at two OMB hearings: the Sutherland (Keppel) Quarry and the MAQ Quarry.

We are monitoring the progress of the Grey County Official Plan Review, the Provincial Policy Statement Review, the Flesherton Gas Station proposal, the Beaver Valley Village subdivision proposal and the Grey Highlands Water and Wastewater Servicing Master Plan.

We had a very successful AGM this spring and a good response to our membership survey. Your input is helping us bring focus to our efforts and shape the future of GABP. Thank you.

More detailed posts on the above issues will be posted soon ... and regularly.

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Beaver Valley Village Subdivision Proposal

GABP has been made aware of a 45-lot subdivision proposal in Grey Highlands that has local property owners and the Beaver Valley Ratepayers Association (BVRA) very concerned. The Beaver Valley Village, planned for the top of the escarpment near the Beaver Valley Ski Club, is to be serviced with individual wells and septic systems.

Although a hydrogeology study and a karst evaluation have been done for the site, peer reviewers retained by the Municipality and the County, are not convinced that the area can support the proposal on private services. The Ministry of the Environment also, is critical of the density of the proposal on individual services, in an area where problems with well-water quantity and quality are well-known. Many residents, already familiar with well-water shortages, dry wells, turbid and contaminated drinking water, are worried about the cumulative negative impact to area groundwater from increasing development pressure in the area.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Status of the GCOP Five Year Review

Grey County Council adopted County Official Plan Amendment  (OPA) No. 80, the five-year review of the County Official Plan, in March 2009. OPA No. 80 has been sent to the Province for approval. However, according to County Planner, Randy Scherzer, the Province has not made a final decision with respect to the amendment at this time, although a final decision from the Province is expected shortly. In e-mail communication with GABP, Scherzer said there will likely be some amendments made to the policies/schedules adopted as part of OPA No. 80. County received a draft decision in Jly 2010 from the Province and there were some proposed revision identified in it . See a report summarizing the key proposed revisionsas well as the draft decision.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Chatsworth/Georgian Bluffs Biodigester


The biodigester, owned and operated jointly by the Municipalities of Chatsworth and Georgian Bluffs is now up and running. I think it is very important that local residents have a good picture of the hows and whys of this project, so I went to se it for myself, and I have had very helpful conversations with Rick Winters, the Operations Manager for Georgian Bluffs.  This Biodigester is the first in Ontario to be owned by a Municipality and is designed to convert septage, holding tank waste, and various commercial organic waste products to energy and a residual consisting of high quality fertilizer. It will potentially create a "new normal" for the handling of such wastes in Ontario.