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The proposed Carlisle Quarry and the Greenbelt Plan
update from FORCE

- Greenbelt Act Does Not Stop Quarries -

On February 28th 2005, the Provincial Government announced the Greenbelt Plan 2005. This Plan completes the legislation which protects a broad swath of natural and agricultural lands in the Golden Horseshoe of southern Ontario. Many of our Communities, and in particular, the site of the proposed Carlisle Quarry, are included under the umbrella of Greenbelt Protection. In part due to the proactive activities by FORCE, this protection has been extended to pending Official Plan amendment applications for aggregate operations, submitted after December 2003, but not yet approved. This decision places the Quarry application made by Lowndes Holdings Corp. under the new Greenbelt restrictions.

This is very good news indeed, as the environmental bar which the proponent of the Carlisle Quarry must satisfy has been both raised and broadened considerably. But, contrary to the impression left by the media coverage of this issue, it does not mean that the Quarry is dead!

The Greenbelt legislation does not ban the establishment of new quarries within the protected area. In fact, aggregate extraction is still considered an appropriate rural land use by the new law. The Greenbelt legislation does not prevent the proponent of a new quarry from applying to the local and provincial governments for the permission to extract aggregate. Nor does the legislation provide a basis for the summary rejection of such an application by any level of government.

What the Greenbelt legislation does is to increase the protection of sensitive ecological and agricultural areas within proposed aggregate extraction areas, making it more difficult for a proponent to win approval for the new venture. The process of application and the process of approval or rejection must still continue, exactly as before. Only the criteria for approval or rejection have changed.

The proponent of the Carlisle Quarry has expressed to the City of Hamilton their intention to actively proceed with their application to establish a huge dolostone quarry at the northwest corner of Milborough Line and the 11th Concession in the former Town of Flamborough. We had hoped that since there are new Greenbelt requirements which the proponent has not addressed in their current application that the City would reject the current application and require the proponent to resubmit. After several discussions with the City over the past 6 weeks they have indicated that they are not willing to do that. They feel that the best course of action is to fully and completely evaluate the current application against all requirements before making a final determination. While we disagree with that decision, we acknowledge that the City staff is acting in a manner which they confidently feel is best.

We know that the proponent retains the services of reputable environmental and engineering consultants, who will continue to put the best possible spin on the substance of the application from their point of view. We must also assume that the proponent is as well funded as before, and will be able to afford to continue to press their case. The proponent has already spent a great deal of money in land acquisition for this project. This investment will be much harder for them to recoup if this quarry application fails, as the Greenbelt legislation does outright ban new urban development projects on Greenbelt protected lands thus depriving the proponent of a lucrative “Plan B”. We must therefore assume that their motivation to succeed with the Quarry application will have, if anything, increased.

While the case for rejecting the application to quarry this environmentally sensitive area is now greatly improved, this case must still be made. In other words we, as a community, must still prove, through legally presented expert opinion, that the Quarry cannot be established without breaking the new rules that the Greenbelt legislation has set out. Our job has not changed. We must still hire both the expert consultants to review and counter the work done by those retained by the proponent, and the legal expertise to present those opinions at formal hearings.

We are not yet assured a clean and clear victory with respect to the quarry application. Should, the City of Hamilton reject the application, the proponent still has every right, and we expect full intent, to appeal such a decision to the Ontario Municipal Board. Our determined and well funded opponent will still win approval for their project if their efforts are not vigorously and effectively contested in all future proceedings. Our job as a community therefore is to continue to articulate objections to the application in a persistent, forthright, and technically expert manner. The hurdles in our path are lower than they were when we began this opposition, but each hurdle must still be jumped. The cost of jumping each hurdle, in terms of volunteer time & effort, as well as financial commitments, has not changed. We must not become complacent.


Together We Will Succeed!