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2008-2009 Annual Report

Message from Chair - The Applications - Our Case - Community Issues - Concluding Comments - Financials - Volunteer Committee - Public Activity Report - Appendix 1 & 2 - References

Our Case


Water has been central to our community case from the first day knowledge surfaced of a proposal for a large-scale industrial open pit mine. No one disputes that area water resources will be negatively impacted by the proposed quarry. The questions are how, and to what degree, will they be affected? As communities, we have the right to be concerned. The quality and the supply of water in our aquifer are essential for our wellbeing.

Our community expert has raised detailed and articulate objections to the reports accompanying the ARA submission by St Marys Cement. He noted that demonstration of a successful groundwater recirculation system or GRS should be required, prior to considering an ARA license application, because there are numerous credible, and probable, means by which the GRS will fail to perform.6 Furthermore, the GRS that the proponent has put forward, places undue reliance on what is called an Adaptive Management Plan (AMP). The AMP is meant to reflect the fact that the science and technology, concerning in this case, groundwater resources in a quarrying environment, is complex and challenging. It sets out contingency plans that could be deployed to deal with unforeseen circumstances that might arise. What the AMP should not be considered to be, is a replacement for a sound, well-designed, initial engineering solution to the challenges. At this time, there is no solution to the acknowledged negative impacts on groundwater resources. There is only a proposed, untested, and theoretical system, supported by mathematical models. No system has been demonstrated on the site. No system has been proven viable, let alone successful.

One of the conclusions from the hearings into the tragedy of the Walkerton drinking water crisis was, "The first barrier to the contamination of drinking water involves protecting the sources of drinking water."7 Until the aquifer that feeds our homes and farms is safe from threat, we must be vigilant, and require the same of our decision-makers.

The manufacturing company I work for is under the jurisdiction of the Canadian Food and Drug Act. So I'm astonished when a company proposes to put water that has sat in ditches back into the aquifer. In my business, that water would be called "contaminated." Moreover, if we ever tried to pass on contaminated product to the consumer we'd be shut down faster than quick set cement can dry!


One of the major issues host communities face with quarry operations is the impact on their existing transportation infrastructure. The large number of trucks in this proposal, up to 1,640 truck trips per day, entering and leaving the quarry site can both increase the wear and tear on existing roads and the conflict between trucks and existing road users can become a safety concern.

On June 23rd, 2008, despite outstanding concerns and issues from the Combined Aggregate Review Team (CART) and without its approval, St Marys Cement held a public information centre on haul routes. This meeting was the fourth to be held, and by the original Terms of Reference, was supposed to be the meeting where a preferred haul route would be announced. CART is the multijurisdictional team coordinated by the City of Hamilton and charged with reviewing the technical issues surrounding the quarry proposal. At that June meeting, several options for the haul route were presented, but no final preferred route was identified. Since then, both Milton and Halton have formally requested that Hamilton stop work on the transportation studies. Despite another submission being made by SMC in early December 2009, CART still has both methodological and content issues with the transportation work done, thus far.

Interestingly iTrans, the firm that SMC hired to do their haul route evaluation, has been engaged by the Town of Caledon to study the increase in the number of accidents, injuries, and fatalities involving trucks that that community is experiencing.8,9 It could be expected that this group of experts should understand that winding, dipping, and narrow country roads do not accommodate a rural-industrial mix of traffic. Convoys of trucks at the rate of one every 26 seconds, when mixed with school buses, tractors, and local traffic will increase the risk of accidents, injuries, and fatalities. Our communities’ preferred option is "No Haul Route".

Every day of the week, I drive my kids to some activity or lesson. In the summer, they ride their bikes to the library and corner store. Sharing the road with 1,640 truck trips a day terrifies me. And I suspect that 1,640 is a starting number, not the end-point. A haul route approval would likely result in applications to re-zone other land for all the supporting industries a quarry and trucks would require. A haul route is just the beginning.

Natural Environment

The site of the proposed quarry is an environmentally rich area in the Natural Heritage System of the Greenbelt. Yet St Marys Cement seems to be chipping away at its features, and appears to be inventing new terms, such as Peripheral Edge Forest Habitat, to justify it. That new term seems to be an attempt to impact on the Significant Woodlands, which are out of bounds by provincial regulations.

Despite its length, the 651-page report co-authored by Stantec Consulting and Savanta Inc10 for SMC continues to have significant methodological, sampling, and analytical problems. Local naturalists question its credibility. The report downplays the number and significance of all types of species, and it expresses the assumption that species, like birds, will adapt to quarry noise, by re-locating or singing more loudly. Naturalists refute all of these premises; on the later point, they note that being forced to sing more loudly is physically demanding, stressful, and, in some cases, can lead to death.

Our ecology community expert is clear that there are serious questions about whether the footprint of the proposed quarry, the GRS, the AMP, and the proposed rehabilitation plan "will operate without significant immediate, long term and in some cases permanent direct and indirect impacts to the natural features and functions of the proposed quarry site and adjacent natural areas."11

This summer, from a plane, I saw ecological corridors; fields connected one to another by forests and scrubby shrubs. They provide cover, shelter, food, and function as pathways. As we circled over the proposed quarry site, I could see that an open pit mine would break all the links. It would quite literally drive wildlife in other directions. Not only would we never again hear coyotes, wild turkeys and owls, we would see road kill - lots of it. If the trucks do not cause an accident with humans, then bewildered animals will.


Together We Will Succeed!