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The New FORCE Website

We are pleased to unveil the newly re-vamped website for Friends

of Rural Communities and the Environment (FORCE). In the 18 months that FORCE has been operating, we added hundreds of items to our website as we tabled submissions to the Province of Ontario on pending legislation, had our experts produce reports for the City of Hamilton , and posted news items that we felt would be of interest to the Community as we continued our battle.

The result was a website that grew week by week. It was dense with information, but had become difficult to navigate. With this revision, we have maintained all the original material, even added to it, but we then re-formatted the site so that important historical and reference content could be found without searching for it within the Latest News listings. Latest News is still the section where we will add new material, but going forward we will also update each of the other structured areas. We hope that with this revision both new and frequent visitors to this site will easily find what they need.

Our volunteer webmaster will continue to fine-tune the site. We welcome your feedback on how the revised site is working for you.

The Year in Review

FORCE has been an incorporated not-for-profit organization since June 2004. Our acronym, FORCE, depicts the positive energy we have harnessed as a Community united against a common foe.

Early in 2005 we were pleased that FORCE's proactive submissions to the Provincial Government resulted in applications like the proposed Lowndes Holdings Corp. quarry being placed under the new Greenbelt Legislation. We believe these new rules to protect water, wetlands, woodlands, wildlife and their habitat from the potentially destructive impacts of development are much stronger than the previous rules. The regulatory landscape for the pending Zoning and Official Plan Amendment applications is fundamentally changed. FORCE even recommended to the City of Hamilton that the quarry application be immediately rejected.  The application, preliminary as it already was, could not be considered sufficient to meet the new Greenbelt tests.  Indeed, we believe that ultimately the proponent will not be able to meet these more restrictive regulations. Unfortunately, having legally accepted the application, the City did not feel it had the ability under the Planning Act to act on our recommendation.

The City of Hamilton has, however, been supportive in circulating FORCE's expert reports on the Lowndes Holdings Corp.'s application to the City’s Peer Review Team. This means that our experts can directly offer their critiques of the proponent's application. We are pleased that the experts retained by FORCE have been given equal footing to those of the proponent. FORCE has made submissions on Hydrogeology, Environmental Factors, and Community Issues. Preparing those reports has really been the focus of this year’s work and we feel that with each report our case becomes stronger. It is important to acknowledge that without the Community pulling together and committing the funds to pay for this expert work, none of these reports would have been possible. It is only by working together and pooling our resources that we are able to afford the kind of technical expertise we need to win this battle.  You will find those reports on the website for your review in the Community Case subsections.

The Year Ahead

As we look towards our third year in our fight to Stop the Quarry, we anticipate some milestone events. The Province of Ontario has just introduced landmark legislation to protect our drinking water and the very aquifers which are its source. We expect it to become law in 2006.  We are also anticipating changes to the Ontario Municipal Board to improve its hearing process and to make it more accessible to community groups such as ours.  Locally, the City of Hamilton has agreed to hold their first Public Information Meeting to report on the application status and summarize the results from the Peer Review process in the Spring. This will be an important event for our Communities to actively participate in and the FORCE website will publish all the details just as soon as they are known. After that, we expect similar meetings to be held by the surrounding municipalities in Halton.  It is anticipated that the series of meetings will expose the deficiencies and gaps in the application from Lowndes Holdings Corp. and that the objections of the Community will be validated. Next, there will likely be a period of time when new reports are created by the proponent’s consultants, attempting to answer our concerns. This is the way the process goes. We need to be patient and never lose focus on our goal. We can, and will, beat this intrusion into our Community; we just need to be patient, professional, and persistent in our approach.

On behalf of the FORCE Steering Committee, we wish you all the Best for the Holiday Season. We launched the revised website at this time of year so that we would all have the most current information and, therefore, be able to answer questions we might get from Friends and Families as we collectively meet and share at social occasions. In reality though, we hope that we will all be able to put our Quarry battle out of our minds for the Holidays. The Community has responded well to this issue. We are having success in our fight. Let us revel in the joys this Season of Celebration offers all of us.

Graham Flint BASc, P. Eng
Chair & Spokesperson

December 12, 2005


Together We Will Succeed!