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2004 Annual Report

Welcome - Our Story - Steering Committee - Not-For-Profit Governance Report - Community Commitment Report
Financial Statements - Excerpts from Relevant Reports - FORCE Public Activity Report - Acknowledgements


FORCE - Friends of Rural Communities and the Environment

May 2004 - March 2005


Our story began when City of Hamilton Councillor, Margaret McCarthy, invited Lowndes Holdings Corp. to disclose their intentions at a Community meeting on June 3rd, 2004. Her office had received calls from concerned citizens to confirm a rumour of a quarry going into farmland on the 11th Concession. Even before the meeting began, the Carlisle Community Centre was packed with interested observers. Latecomers found space standing against the walls. By meeting’s end, these citizens were outraged and ready to organize.

Many of these same individuals, and even more, attended a second meeting on Wednesday, June 9, 2004 in Lawson Park. That night, they were galvanized to action when over 300 citizens selected a steering committee to guide our communities through the task of opposing the development of an open pit industrial mining operation on the 11th Concession.  That operation, if approved, would be a daily menace, pumping millions of gallons of water every day from our aquifers, introducing over 1000 truck trips per day on our country roads, and disturbing an environment zoned agricultural and designated as environmentally significant.

FORCE was created, officially, to oppose

the quarry when we became registered and incorporated as a not-for-profit organization on June 28th 2004. The title of the citizens’ group, Friends of Rural Communities and the Environment (FORCE) was selected to clearly identify who we are and to speak positively about what we want to protect.

Furthermore, the acronym, FORCE, was consistent with the mental and moral strength that we would muster to consistently and positively direct attention to the issues of the proposed quarry. We continued to state that no reasonable person would approve aggregate extraction in this area designated by the Hamilton-Wentworth Official Plan (April 1998) as Environmentally Significant Lands.

Furthermore, the province has documented this tract as containing Provincially Significant Wetlands, housing the headwaters of the Bronte Creek. We persist in stating that these lands contain the water source for nearby communities. They should continue to be farmed and preserved.

It was substantive claims about the nature of the area that gave our cause credibility and fuelled our energy. Within a short time, the work of the steering committee and dozens of other volunteers became visible through the placement of over 800 hundred lawn signs. Additionally, local shopkeepers posted signs on their buildings and landowners agreed to the installation of billboard-sized signs along Milburough Line, Steeles Avenue, Centre Road and Highway #6.

What was not visible was the thousands of hours that volunteers spent preparing briefs, building relationships within the various levels of government and hiring and consulting with technical and legal advisors.

The City of Hamilton became engaged on September 20, 2004 when Lowndes Holdings Corp. finally submitted their application, some 900 pages, for an Open Pit Limestone Aggregate Operation. By that date, the FORCE Steering committee had already met thirteen times. Our response to this application was to meet the proponent’s submission on every technical item that they put forth. The majority of funds committed by citizens in 2004 were used to prepare the necessary expert reports on ecology and hydrogeology. A third report compiled by a volunteer group of citizens with technical and professional expertise addressed issues of noise, particulate matter, environmental health, biology and social economy. These reports will be submitted to the City of Hamilton as input to the peer review process documenting the Community’s opposition. Should Lowndes Holdings Corp. revise or add to their submission, these community reports will be re-examined and updated as required.

Our citizens rallied in this first year to deliver a substantial financial commitment. We had predicted that $100,000 per year was required to be effective as an informed and capable opposition to the proposed quarry. By December 31st 2004 $154,000 had been raised. (The financial reporting section of this document illustrates how important these funds were to our early successes.) By the end of December, close to $105,000 had already been invested.

In many ways, it did not seem fair that with our current tax burden that we should have to extract more hard-earned dollars from our pockets. Nor did it seem right that we should have to take scarce family time to fight a battle with a quarry operator. However, we knew that Lowndes Holdings Corp. would like nothing more than for us to give up, give in, and let the trucks start rolling.

The best part of this campaign to Stop the Quarry has been watching our community pull together. The commitment to posting signs, delivering letters/flyers and to signing cheques has been remarkable.

As we approach the First Year Anniversary of this potential intrusion into our Communities, we can look back and see the significant results we have had in fact finding, case building, and relationship making. (A full chronology of activities is presented later in this report.)

A critical victory we achieved this winter was the passage of a specific regulation in conjunction with the Greenbelt Legislation. That regulation ensured that the Greenbelt rules apply to applications such as the one submitted by Lowndes Holdings. That victory was not an accident. FORCE attended public meetings and made submissions and presentations to legislative committees to express our concerns. We succeeded and are very pleased to be covered by the Greenbelt Legislation designed to protect Agricultural and Green-space areas within the Golden Horseshoe. 

Unfortunately, despite the fact that we believe the Lowndes Holdings Corp. application does not conform to the Greenbelt Legislation, the proponent persists in its application. Therein lies our challenge. Every day, every week, every month that we wait for a decision costs us money and leaves the threat of this incompatible development hanging over our communities.

If the City of Hamilton rejects the quarry application without a full review, Lowndes Holdings could appeal the decision to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB). That is the proponent’s right. Furthermore, it is due process. In fact his application could still cause us grief, time and money if he chooses the OMB route after a rejection by the city. But in that case, at least the City will be working with us.

We must maintain a visible FORCE of opposition, and for that level of fight, we will need to engage in a second round of fundraising in 2005. There are still bills to pay as we complete submissions to advocate against Lowndes Holdings with the City of Hamilton. Please do your part to make sure that we do not have a shortfall before we have completed the process.

We could not have made the gains we have without the help of our elected representatives, Margaret McCarthy, City Councillor, and Ted McMeekin, Member of Provincial Parliament. Both have been steadfast supporters of FORCE from the outset. They introduced us to decision-makers, alerted us to key events, and provided outstanding background support. Thank you!

The relationships that we have forged with councillors and staff at the City of Hamilton , Region of Halton, City of Burlington, Town of Milton, and members of Conservation Halton and the Hamilton Wentworth Federation of Agriculture have been essential to our fact-finding and case building processes. People from these organizations have been supportive with their time and wisdom.

Several groups have also contributed to this first round of success. Our two local schools (Balaclava and Our Lady of Mount Carmel) have been visible in their opposition to the quarry as has been the Hamilton-Wentworth Federation of Agriculture. The Women’s Institute created a beautiful quilt which they raffled to help raise much needed funds.

Our Communities thank these people and organizations!

In summary, all of us should be pleased with the credibility that FORCE has established and the positive responses that FORCE has received to date. Much has happened since those hot summer evenings in packed meeting rooms. As we enter the next stretch of this important opposition, we believe it is important to take stock and to affirm the successes that we have achieved in our first fiscal year of operation.

We have documented on the next few pages the measures that we consider important. They include:

In closing, the Steering Committee would like to thank the citizens of Hamilton and Halton for this opportunity to represent them on this critical issue. We have learned much and made many new friends.


Together We Will Succeed!