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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

The Applications

Over 2008 and 2009, St Marys Cement submitted two significant applications in support of their goal to gain approval for the proposed Flamborough Quarry. This time, however, both the applications were submitted to, and are managed by, Ontario Provincial Ministries, rather than the City of Hamilton.

The first application, for a temporary Permit To Take Water, was filed with the Province through the Ministry of the Environment in October 2006. The PTTW application was in support of a hydro-geologic test plan to gather data to better understand and characterize the aquifer. It was also supposed to demonstrate a theoretical and unproven groundwater recirculation system or GRS. The GRS was proposed by SMC to mitigate the acknowledged unacceptable negative impacts that the proposed quarry operation would have on groundwater resources. A modified permit was eventually granted on July 8th 2008 with considerable conditions, and it expired on June 30th 2009, with the stated goals of the testing still incomplete.

The second application, for an Aggregate Licence under the Aggregate Resources Act, was filed with the Province through the Ministry of Natural Resources in January 2009. This Provincial Licence would be required before a quarry could be established, and would set the required operating conditions. The MNR deemed the application complete on March 3rd 2009, and one month later, on April 3rd, SMC officially began the first day of a two-year, or 730-day timeline before the company's final submission to the MNR is due. The MNR will then make a recommendation to the Minister on the application, to approve the licence (with/without conditions), refuse the licence, or refer the matter to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB).

The two applications are reviewed in more detail in the following sections.


The filing of the temporary Permit to Take Water application in October 2006, and the extended review of the application through 2007, and much of 2008, marked a time of heightened activity for our communities (see Appendix 1). We were not alone in our fight, however. Many agencies and stakeholders joined our communities in expressing concerns around the proposed testing.

Hamilton Public Health Services, for instance, raised a red flag in October 2007. The Medical Officer of Health issued a rare notification to the Ministry of the Environment, under the Health Protection and Promotion Act, because of the potential for a significant risk of threat to public health. In 2008, FORCE led our communities through a three-pronged campaign against the PTTW. It included full-page newspaper advertisements, postcards to the Premier, and letters and e-mails to the MOE. All of these actions challenged the Province to honour its clean water laws and to protect our drinking water. With Councillor Margaret McCarthy's leadership, in February 2008, Hamilton City Council voted unanimously to bring its concerns regarding the potential adverse impacts on the Carlisle groundwater-based municipal drinking water system and surrounding residential wells to the attention of the Provincial Government. On April 16th 2008, more than 500 citizens gathered at Our Lady of Mount Carmel School to express concerns about the PTTW application.

When the MOE finally granted the temporary PTTW, the original testing plan was changed significantly. The permit also listed extensive conditions that further restricted the testing and ensured it would be closely monitored, including report requirements and staged testing. Our communities had "gained ground."

The temporary PTTW was the first provincial regulatory decision. However, because substantive issues still remained with the application and permit provisions, FORCE sought leave to appeal the issuing of the PTTW on behalf of our communities to the Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT). Unfortunately, the ERT determined that it had no jurisdiction to consider the appeal, because the permit was issued for less than one year. The permit was issued for 357 days, just 8 days short of a year. It was the opinion of FORCE, that in order to complete all the testing phases defined in the testing plan, to report on each phase, and have that reporting approved, more than a year would be required. In the end, though, the substantive merits of our communities' case could not be considered.

The PTTW that was issued allowed for the pumping of 4.5 million litres of water each day. This volume was down significantly from the original application of over 12 million litres per day. The testing plan had three phases. The first was to study the aquifer itself, and the second two phases were to demonstrate different approaches to the groundwater recirculation system or GRS. The last two phases planned to explore different ways that groundwater would be returned to the aquifer. In phase two, water would be discharged into trenches, and expected to drain back through the soil and bedrock. In the third phase, open wells would be drilled in the bottom of the trenches directing the water into the productive zones of the aquifer.

On July 21, 2008, even before the ERT had ruled on the communities' appeal request, St Marys Cement moved ahead and began the first phase of testing on site. This date was also the start of an extended wet weather period. The rain that occurred over the next few weeks was extreme. Despite the adverse weather conditions during the testing, SMC felt confident that the data they collected was valid. In October 2008 the MOE disagreed and requested that phase one be re-done; they felt that the results were unacceptable because of the impact of the heavy rainfall.

SMC refused. When the MOE indicated it would revoke the PTTW if the company did not intend to test further, SMC requested that the permit stand. The company indicated it would test further, if SMC and MOE could agree on the nature and purpose of the testing.

In the end though, no further testing was done before the permit expired on June 30th, 2009. Despite a commitment from St Marys Cement to successfully demonstrate its GRS before the system would be implemented or added as a component to their final application (the ARA application)1 during the entire period of the PTTW - 357days - SMC did not demonstrate the theoretical and unproven GRS.

Recently, in December 2009, eleven months after refusing to re-do phase one of the original PTTW, SMC signalled its intention to apply for another temporary PTTW. The testing plan associated with this application is entitled "GRS Proof of Concept Testing Program". 2010 promises to be another interesting year!


Despite outstanding technical work in two major subject areas, Hydrogeology and Transportation, in January 2009, St Marys Cement applied for an Aggregate Licence to allow the operation of a limestone quarry through the Ministry of Natural Resources.

The MNR deemed the application complete on March 3rd, 2009. The documentation filed with the application provides further insight into the nature of the proposed industrial operation, and some details that substantiate our concerns as the proposed host communities:

The revenue potential for St Marys Cement is significant:

There is recognition that a mitigation system needs to be in place to address the acknowledged unacceptable impact on groundwater resources. The estimated inflow from groundwater into the quarry excavation is:

The estimated GRS pumping volume required is:

By contrast, the Carlisle Municipal System has a maximum permitted pumping volume amounting to 4.3 million litres per day. The GRS would need to handle 20 times that amount. The system at the proposed quarry site will be required to pump 90 million litres of water per day for the life of the project.

As the ARA application provided more information on the scope and scale of the proposed operation, it provided yet another rallying point for our communities. SMC posted its formal notice of application on April 3rd, 2009. That day began Day 1 of a 45-day public consultation period. During that time, the proponent was obliged to provide information about the application and citizens were allowed to object. Our communities responded vigorously (see Appendix 2 for details):

The ARA application was met with unanimous objections. All stakeholders raised substantive concerns. Submissions noted that technical work had not been completed in support of the application, or where the work was already done, it was not sufficient. In some cases, stakeholders indicated that the submitted work contained errors and omissions in both methodology and content.

The Aggregate Licence process gives a proponent two years to finalize its application and attempt to resolve any concerns from stakeholders. Normally, during this two-year timeframe, proponents meaningfully modify their applications by completing revised technical work and engaging in stakeholder discussions. SMC, by contrast, did not make any modifications to their original application, and just six months after the original comment period had closed, they triggered a 20-day Official Notification of Objector Response process.

This process is initiated by the sending of registered letters to objectors. Objectors are required to reconfirm their objections and respond by registered mail. If they do not respond, their objections may be considered withdrawn. The Objector Response process normally occurs near the end of the two-year application timeline, and only after proponents have made meaningful efforts to resolve objections. In our situation, SMC forced our communities to go through this process without any changes to their original proposal to attempt to resolve objections. SMC correspondence repeated their original positions and contained more assurances that everything would be OK.

As of the writing of this report:

The mailing of registered letters to objectors was staged in batches. The last 20-day process ends on March 1st, 2010. We expect more objections will be submitted before the final deadline.

SMC must make its final submission to the MNR in support of the Aggregate Licence application by April 3, 2011. This final package must include a list of all outstanding objectors and their objections, along with an explanation of what SMC has done to try to resolve their objections. At that time, the MNR will make a recommendation to either approve, deny, or refer the licence application to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) for their decision.


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