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Objection Response Letters have started to Arrive!

St Marys Cement's response letters to our objections have started to arrive. These letters are being sent to each resident who objected to the Aggregate Licence Application in May of this year, as part of the 45 day public consultation period under the Aggregate Resource Act.

The letter indicates that a second mailing, an Official Notice of Objector Response will follow in "the next couple of weeks", via registered mail. This second mailing will trigger a 20 day response period. If objectors do not respond to this second letter, by reaffirming their objections in writing within 20 days, their objections will be considered withdrawn.

FORCE will be monitoring these activities as they unfold and will be providing information, instructions, and support to assist all of us, as community objectors, to make sure that our objections remain in force. It is very important that we all continue to register our objections, in order to demonstrate our solid and substantive opposition to this proposal.

This step, being undertaken by St Marys Cement, may be defined under the Aggregate Licence Application guidelines, but its timing continues to reflect the lack of any serious engagement by St Marys Cement with the Community or Governmental Agencies involved with this application process. Typically, this objector response step occurs towards the end of the two year timeframe that the proponent has to submit its final package to the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) for consideration, and then only after considerable time and effort have been spent to attempt to resolve objections, especially with governments and agencies.

Significant and numerous concerns were raised this spring during the 45 day comment period; many in the key areas of hydrogeology (groundwater) and transportation (haul routes). No new work has been released by St Marys Cement in either of these areas since that time, and yet we are led to believe, that somehow, there are justifiable reasons for us to withdraw our objections. Let us be clear, there are no reasons to withdraw our objections.

Certainly there are no reasons contained within the objection response letter now being distributed by the company. Their letter mostly restates assurances that we have already heard in the past and reiterates their plans to adapt and manage the unacceptable effects of their proposed quarry into the future.

What the letter does not do is tell the whole story based on the facts. As an example, the letter makes no mention of the fact that St Marys Cement allowed its Permit to Take Water (PTTW) to expire, uncompleted. It does not discuss that the company failed to redo baseline water pump tests as requested by the Ministry of the Environment (MOE) and that it did not test, nor prove successful, a mitigation system, of any type, on the site, as it committed to do, in its October 2007 Community Newsletter # 6. It talks about other independent hydrogeologists retained to check the work of the company's consultants, but the letter doesn't mention St Marys Cement was using this same so-called independent company to do other technical studies to justify the proposed quarry, at the same time as it was supervising the water testing. Further, the letter does not mention that even the most recent version of the transportation and haul route study was still rejected by the City of Hamilton and its Combined Aggregate Review Team (CART) because of concerns with the data and methodology used in the report.

We won't be fooled by St Marys Cement's empty response to our objections.

To us, it appears that St Marys Cement is just ticking another box on it's "to do" list for the aggregate license process. Perhaps they hope that by making us jump through some more hoops, they can dramatically reduce the number of objectors. However, since they have given us no reasons to withdraw our objections, let's show St Marys Cement that we have no intention of doing so. Our objections are substantive and appropriate. Let's do whatever we need to do to make sure that our objections remain in force.

Please keep watching your e-mail and checking the community website (www.stopthequarry.ca) for further information and instructions. Based on St Marys Cement's timing outline, we should expect the registered mail letters to arrive in the next 2 to 3 weeks, perhaps as early as the week of November 16th. This would put the 20 day deadline in early December. As support, you can expect template objection renewal letters, a FORCE public meeting and drop-in centres, and drop off locations so that we can assist with the signing, collection and delivery of our objection renewal letters to both St Marys Cement and the Ministry of Natural Resources.

Let's do everything we can to make sure St Marys Cement doesn't take the fun out of our upcoming Holiday Season, and let's make sure they don't get the holiday gift of us not standing up for our Community and letting our objections lapse. We all need to confirm our objections by the December deadline!

(We remind everyone reading this information to think of those in our community who may not be connected to the internet and ask that you take steps to ensure that they have access to this information. Perhaps you could drop it by their home, or perhaps you could print several copies and take it with you to services this weekend. We will succeed by working together; let's do everything we can to make sure everyone can stay involved. Thanks.)


Together We Will Succeed!