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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

Community Issues

The proposed quarry threatens our community wellbeing on several levels. If the groundwater recirculation system or GRS compromises water quality, our health is at risk. If the GRS compromises water quantity, our wells are at risk, and our agricultural community will suffer. Dust in the form of fine particulate is bad for humans, bad for livestock and bad for crops whether it comes from quarry operations, or truck traffic. Loud, persistent, noise Monday to Friday, for 12 hours a day that continues into Saturday mornings is likely to be distressing for all living creatures.

Health. The factors that determine health go beyond individual traits and healthy practices to include the quality of the air we breathe, the quality of the water we drink, the loudness and persistence of exposure to noise we experience, and the design of our roads. We count on municipal bylaws and provincial legislation to protect our health on the issues we cannot control. The Clean Water Act-2006 promises protection for Wellhead Protection (WHPA) and recharge areas, among other key areas. The legislation embodies the precautionary principle, the principle of prevention first, and its scope includes both existing and future proposed activities.

Pits, quarries, and mines are land use activities that can threaten drinking water sources. They can provide human-made pathways to aquifers, and are of provincial concern. The Technical Experts Committee formed during the preparation of the Clean Water Act recommended that pits and quarries be assessed according to new municipal well standards and be restricted within the 5 year Time of Travel or TOT. Source Protection Committees are now assessing threats to the aquifer in local watersheds. They have been provided with rules that outline how to judge man-made pathways and how to calculate vulnerability for areas such as the Carlisle Wellhead Protection Area and our local significant recharge areas. That assessment is important to us. For example, the Time of Travel for water migrating from the proposed quarry site towards the Carlisle municipal wells is only 2 years.

Agriculture. For decades, the arable land on the proposed site successfully grew market garden produce. That was long before a report from the proponent declared, "Good soil for agriculture [on the proposed quarry site] is rare, mainly due to the stony nature of the surface of the land".12 Another report, filed with the ARA application, states that "the subject land should not be considered to be "prime agricultural land in a prime agricultural area."13 What neither report acknowledged is that local farmers contribute to Hamilton's $1 billion dollar agricultural economy. The emphasis on soil categories as opposed to farming success is misplaced in light of developments in agricultural practices. In our opinion, the emphasis on low soil categories is designed to provide the justification that there be no requirement to rehabilitate the lands to agricultural status once the proposed quarry operation is complete.

Soil classification was introduced as a guide to establish a gradient in the quality of farmland inventory in the early 1960's; it is not the sole criteria to determine what land should be farmed. When applying 'best practices', a farmer operating on Class 3 soil can outperform an operation located on Class 1 soil, in terms of yields and efficiency. Hence, it is an assault on the agricultural community to take 150 acres of viable farmland, and to remove it forever from agricultural production, and in addition, to destroy the acreage of interconnected conservation lands necessary for a balanced eco-system. This land is not the Holland Marsh, but it contributes to a viable agricultural community; one that is under threat from the proposed quarry.

The potential for negative agricultural impacts from the proposed quarry is significant throughout our communities. An estimated 50-60 farm operations located within neighbouring concessions and roads, include forage and grain crops, market gardening, apple orchards, equine breeding and training, pork, beef, lamb, alpaca, and poultry production, and greenhouses. They will all be subject to the risk of negative impacts from groundwater changes, the presence of airborne dust, livestock stress from blasting and noise, and fast moving, heavy trucks. If these impacts were not enough, removing farmland begins the erosion of agricultural support businesses. They disappear one by one, and as they disappear, farming becomes harder, and the thought of selling becomes easier.

As North America embraces the concept of eating local produce, the effects of St Marys Cement's proposed quarry could have us driving outside our community to sell and buy fruits, vegetables, meat, poultry, eggs, jams, honey, and cheese, among other products. It makes no sense for families, and less sense for a rural economy.

I laughed aloud as I read the soil report that was submitted with the original application. It said that the soil I farm is lousy. Hard to believe that I've always paid the vet, the feed store, put food on the table and sent kids to university while working, stony and sandy land. Any time I read anything produced by St Marys Cement, I'm on guard. Just because they say something is so, does not make it the truth. And as my mother used to say, "Repeating a falsehood does not make it truer".


Together We Will Succeed!