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Marching for the land and the water

Farmers and First Nations on second day of a five day march against hedge fund mega-quarry


Brampton – Orangeville – Shelburne – Jim Black’s potato farm


23 April 2011


Brampton, ON- Dozens of people marched from the outskirts of Toronto through Brampton today on the second of a five day trek against a proposed 2316-acre mega-quarry to be situated in Melancthon, just north of Shelburne, Ontario. Local residents, farmers and First Nations representatives started with a rally at Queens Park in Toronto on Friday and plan to finish on Tuesday at a potato farm next to the proposed site on Highway 124.

If allowed to proceed, the mega-quarry would be the second-largest in North America and would destroy prime farmland in the heart of Ontario’s potato-growing region known for its Honeywood Silt Loam, a rare type of soil that is particularly suited to potato cultivation. 


“The American hedge fund that wants this quarry now owns over 8,000 acres in the area,” says Ralph Armstrong, a farmer whose land, adjacent to the proposed quarry site, has been handed down for 6 generations. “My neighbours who sold before there was any talk of a quarry just can’t believe that anyone would put a giant open pit mine in soil this good. We take our food security for granted but now we have got foreign governments buying up farmland in Canada and the U.S. to assure themselves of a food supply in coming years. These American bankers have come up here with a get-rich plan that will annihilate some of the most productive land in our country. Do we as Canadians really want to let that happen?” 


Carl Cosack, a local cattle and horse rancher, is worried the mega-quarry will harm water supplies “It will destroy productive farmland and threaten the headwaters of three important rivers- the Grand, the Nottawasaga and the Pine- which are water sources for one million people” he said. “They plan to dig 200 feet below the water table -that’s deeper than Niagara Falls- and a quarter of the area of downtown Toronto and they claim it won’t have a negative impact. It is simply not credible.”     


Mark Calzavara of the advocacy group The Council of Canadians, joined the marchers as they travelled up Hurontario Street. “We need to make smarter choices than we have made in the past about our farmland,” says Calzavara. “A mega-quarry may be more profitable than a farm today but we need to think about the next generations too. Where will their food come from? At what point do we say “no” to this kind of short-term thinking?”


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March schedule:


Saturday April23 9am start

Eglinton Ave and Dixie Rd. West to Hurontario, north on Hurontario to Brampton City Hall at Wellington St arriving between1-2 pm. Continuing north on Hurontario to Old School Rd.

End of Day 2, 27 km  (may be slight detour east on Sandlewood Rd, north on Kennedy Rd, west on Old School Rd to Hurontario)


Sunday April 24-  9am start

Old School Rd and Hurontario- North on Hwy 10 (Hurontario) to Hwy 9 (Orangeville), west on Broadway to First Street (Orangeville City Hall) 3-4 pm End Day 3, 27 Km


Monday April 25- 9am start

North on First St to Hwy 10, north on Hwy 10 to Hwy 89, West on Hwy 89 to Shelburne, 3-4 pm End Day 4, 25 Km

Tuesday 26/4 9am start

North on Hwy 124 to Jim & Marians Black’s potato farm, 1-2 pm,  15 Km