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2006: The Year in Review

The year 2006 was an eventful one in our struggle against the proposed industrial open pit mine to be located in the midst of our established rural residential and agricultural communities.

Major Events and Activities

The year began with major public displays of our resolve to stop Lowndes Holdings Corporation from realizing its plans to convert the environmentally sensitive and hydrogeologically important lands in northeast Flamborough into the eighth largest open pit limestone quarry in Canada. On April 6, a standing room only crowd of over 400 Community members packed the Our Lady of Mount Carmel School auditorium to register our disapproval of the proposed quarry at the first official Hamilton City meeting about the application. We heard representatives of the City of Hamilton describe the overwhelmingly negative Peer Review assessment of the Lowndes application, politely heard out the representatives of the Proponent, and then gave FORCE spokesperson Graham Flint a standing ovation as he outlined our case against the quarry. A similar meeting in Milton on May 3 attracted over 200 people, with a similar outcome.

The proponents finally seemed to get the message that their work was incomplete and unconvincing, and that our Community opposition was far more widespread, organized, outspoken and professional than they had anticipated. They gave up and sold out. The purchaser, announced on June 20th, was St Marys Cement, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Brazilian resource corporation, Votorantim.

We were very disappointed by the early approach taken by the new proponent. St Marys instituted an aggressive public relations campaign. They refused to meet with the community as a whole, or with members of FORCE, to discuss the substantive issues already on the table in an open forum. Instead they mailed glossy brochures, knocked on doors to confront individuals and families, and hired telemarketers to call people at home. When Councillor Margaret McCarthy invited St Marys and the Community to a public meeting to discuss the issues, they refused to attend, missing the opportunity to present their case to another packed hall in the auditorium of Balaclava School. Their PR campaign culminated in a series of open houses held at their on site offices. At these open houses St Marys representatives were still not prepared to address the issues or discuss the specifics of their plans. As in all their previous communications, they offered only vague promises and patronising assurances that a big and responsible company like St Marys would not do anything to adversely affect our lives. According to their representatives we have nothing to be concerned about.

Our response to the change of proponents has been "same package, different wrapper". The presence of a new proponent, even one with much deeper pockets and slicker communications, does not change any of the basic strengths of our scientific and land use planning case against the establishment of this proposed open pit mine. A series of communications went out, warning the community against the techniques of the St Marys public relations campaign, and the struggle went on.

The year is ending with the proponent applying for a provincial Permit to Take Water, which would allow them to undertake a series of tests of their proposed Ground Water Recirculation System for mitigation of the quarry's acknowledged negative effects on local wells and the Carlisle water supply. The community has vigorously opposed this testing, which would, if approved, draw almost four times more water out of the aquifer than the Carlisle municipal wells are allowed to draw, and, after exposing the water to potential surface contaminates, attempt to re-circulate some of the water back into the aquifer and dump the rest into Flamborough Creek. Our Communities flooded the Ministry of the Environment with almost 200 letters of opposition to this testing. On our Community's behalf FORCE also made a submission outlining our concerns along with reports from our Ecologist and Hydrogeologist, all commenting on the inappropriateness and prematurity of this intrusive testing.

Political Activity

November of 2006 saw the municipal election. An issue survey was prepared and circulated to all surrounding area candidates and the results were posted for the community to use to help make their voting decisions. Through this process, we were pleased to see the level of understanding that most candidates had of our issue, and the level of support our community was receiving from the candidates for electoral office. We look forward to working with the new municipal government representatives over the next four years.

Throughout the year, the provincial legislative agenda has continued to strengthen our case against the proposed quarry. The passage of the new Clean Water Act and Ontario Municipal Board reform will help us as we move forward with our case against the proposed St Marys Flamborough Quarry. FORCE made formal submissions to the provincial government on behalf of our communities in both of these legislative matters, and many of our concerns are reflected in the new legislation.

Community Events

In addition to serious public meetings, FORCE was involved in three "fun" community events that raised friends, awareness, as well as funds for our struggle. The first was the annual free Community Skate at the Carlisle Arena in January. This event, sponsored by our City Councillors, brought families together and sent many boxes of food to the Flamborough Food Bank.

On a gorgeous September Sunday the "Tour de FORCE" gathered together over 200 cyclists from all over the GTA to ride the fantastic local rural roads threatened by the proposed quarry's truck traffic. This recreational bicycle rally, initiated and organized by community members Darcy Pytel and Gwen Todd, was considered to be the "best ride of the year" by many of the participants. It spread awareness of our cause far beyond our local communities, as well as raising over $1,000 for our cause.

In November we held our first FORCE Gala, entitled "Friends - A Vital Force in Our Community". This sold out event was a tremendous success, with almost 200 attendees enjoying an evening of fine dining, fantastic professional entertainment, and a well stocked silent auction. This event raised approximately $20,000 in support of our fight. The success of these events, plus our annual spring fundraising drive, allowed us to once again meet our $100,000 a year fundraising goal.


In summary, 2006 was another successful year in the fight to defend our environment, our homes, our families, our farms and businesses, our water and our communities. We should feel very good about what we have accomplished in our David versus Goliath fight. The facts continue to be overwhelmingly in our favour, the regulatory environment continues to improve, and best of all, we have acted together with one common and united voice.

We don't know what the next year will bring, for, as remarkable as it may seem, we are still in the early stages of this long, difficult, and expensive fight. But the events of 2006 have amply demonstrated that as a Community we are ready for whatever comes our way. Together We Will Succeed!

The members of the FORCE Steering Committee wish all our neighbours a joyous holiday season and a happy and prosperous New Year.

We invite everyone to begin the New Year by meeting your neighbours at the 3rd annual FORCE Free Community Skate, sponsored by Councillors Margaret McCarthy and Robert Pasuta, at the Carlisle Arena on Friday, January 5th, 2007 from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm. Please remember to bring a non-perishable food item for the Flamborough Food Bank.


Together We Will Succeed!