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.

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

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.

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.