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General FAQS

What is aggregate?

For natural resources extraction purposes, aggregate is defined as "gravel, sand...stone, limestone, dolostone...or rock". In other words, it is almost any bulk mineral resource other than metal ore. Aggregate can be unconsolidated (gravel or sand that exists as separate particles), or it can be consolidated (solid rock). Consolidated aggregate is often broken up or crushed for use. The aggregates that concern us are gravel, sand and dolostone.

What is aggregate used for?

The major use of aggregate is in construction. Aggregate can be used as is, for roadbeds, unpaved roads, and as gravel fill or pads or septic beds. Aggregate is also a major component of concrete and asphalt, and as such is used in almost all building projects and road construction.

What is a pit?

A pit is an area of land from which unconsolidated aggregate (sand and/or gravel) is being excavated. Usually much smaller scale operations than quarries.

What is a quarry?

A quarry is an area of land from which consolidated aggregate (solid rock) is being excavated. This excavation often requires blasting and can go below the water table.

What is a wayside pit or quarry?

A wayside pit or quarry is a temporary pit or quarry which supplies aggregate for a temporary public project, specifically construction or maintenance of a road. It may operate only for the duration of the project or for 18 months, whichever is shorter. However, the period of operation of a wayside pit or quarry may be extended by the Minister if the project requires it. The license requirements for a wayside pit or quarry are much less rigorous than for a full scale aggregate operation, and can override local zoning concerns. A wayside operation may cause "temporary inconvenience to the public".

What are wetlands?

Wetlands are lands that are seasonally or permanently covered by shallow water, including lands where the water table is at or close to the surface. The abundant water favours the dominance of water plants or water-tolerant plants and aquatic or semi-aquatic animal communities. Wetlands may exist on their own, or as shoreline features of bodies of water such as lakes, rivers or streams. As mentioned above, wetlands may be seasonal-wet in the spring and early summer, but drying up later in the season. Such seasonal wetlands may not even be "wet" in the driest years.

Why are wetlands important?

Wetlands are important both for their own sake and because of their value to people.

The intrinsic value of wetlands is that they are major centres of biodiversity. In other words they are the home to a huge variety of living creatures, both plant and animal.

The practical values of wetlands are many. Probably the most important is that they are natural sponges and filters for surface water. They absorb and hold waters in wet periods and release it gradually, thus reducing the risk of flooding. The water that is released from a wetland has been filtered through and by the abundant vegetation and is often cleaner and of higher quality than the upstream or source water. This is particularly important as wetlands may also serve as recharge areas for underground water (aquifers). Shoreline wetlands also protect the shores of lakes and watercourses from erosion during high water and flood situations. Biologically, wetlands are home to many creatures that people consider important. They are breeding areas for waterfowl, spawning areas for food, sport and forage fish, breeding grounds for ecologically important creatures such as amphibians, and the source of many insects that provide food for birds and bats. (Some people don't consider this last issue an positive attribute!!). Some wetlands have significant recreational (and therefore economic) value to nature lovers and hunters. The esthetic value of wetlands is difficult to measure, but spring nights in the country would be sad and incomplete without the beautiful music of the spring peepers, toads and gray tree frogs.

What makes a wetland provincially significant?

The Province of Ontario recognizes the importance of wetlands and has a complex formula for assessing the importance of particular wetlands. This involves considering about 50 characteristics of the wetland, including type and rarity of the wetland, size, relationship to other wetlands, site of the wetland in relation to other habitats, economic, recreational and esthetic value of the wetland, flood control and erosion control value of the wetland, role of the wetland in improving water quality, biodiversity of the wetland, presence of rare, threatened or endangered species and many others. These values are measured and the significance of the wetland is calculated according to the Ministry of Natural Resources formula. If the score is high enough the wetland is considered to be sufficiently important to be designated as a Provincially Significant Wetland (PSW). There is a PSW designation for part of the Lowndes Holdings Corp. properties and surrounding areas.

What are Environmentally Sensitive Areas (ESA) and why are they important?

In the new City of Hamilton, Environmentally Significant Areas (ESAs) are natural areas that have been identified as significant and worthy of protection based on three criteria:

Our neighbourhood, and the Lowndes Holdings Corp. properties, contain parts of two officially designated ESAs, the Mountsberg East Wetlands (Hamilton ESA #1) and the Carlisle North Forests (Hamilton ESA #2), the former also having Provincially Significant Wetland (PSW) designation (Hamilton Natural Areas Inventory, 2003, pp. 39-42 and pp. 270-274). Both areas have been designated because they represent areas of Significant Hydrological Function and Significant Ecological Function. Hydrologically, ESA #1 is a groundwater recharge area, maintains surface water quality and regulates stream flow in Bronte Creek, while ESA #2 maintains water quality in local cold water streams. Ecologically, both areas serve as ecological corridors between natural areas, contain habitat for signficant species, and contain increasingly rare interior forest habitat. The Hamilton Natural Areas Inventory document recommends that both areas be protected against development for these important reasons.

What is a habitat?

A habitat is the home of an species, plant or animal. Home is defined in a very broad sense, and includes the area or areas used by the species to live, feed and reproduce. This would include the physical features of that area including climate, elevation, topography, soil, water, exposure to the elements, etc., and all the other plants, animals and microorganisms in that area that affect the species.

What is a species at risk?

In Ontario, a species at risk is officially defined as "any plant or animal threatened by, or vulnerable to extinction." A species becomes extinct when all the members of that species have died. There are several categories of risk officially recognized in Ontario. The two most serious categories are "endangered" and "threatened". A species considered to be officially endangered is "any native species that is at risk of becoming extinct in Ontario." A species considered to be officially threatened is "any native species that is at risk of becoming endangered in Ontario." In Ontario, as in most of the world, the greatest problem for species at risk is the loss of habitat.

Are there any threatened or endangered species in this area?

The short answer is that nobody is sure. With the intensified interest in these ESA and PSW designated areas caused by the potential for major industrial development, we can expect that significant ecological surveys will happen to determine the answer to this question.

Water Facts:

Quarries (or open-pit mines) have the potential to seriously impact upon both the quantity and quality of water in surrounding areas. In particular, the following concerns have been raised by experts in the field:


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