For months, the Council of Canadians has been calling for both a provincial and federal environmental assessment of the proposed Melancthon quarry to expose its evident hazards. We have argued that quarries should not be exempt from environmental assessments in Ontario.
On the other side, The Highland Companies, the company seeking the quarry, has repeatedly said that an environmental assessment was not needed and that it “would simply duplicate rather than add to the information available.” Last March, Ontario’s Minister of Natural Resources Linda Jeffrey was also not supportive of an environmental assessment. She reportedly made the comment to a delegation from Melancthon concerned about the quarry, “It is too bad that this has split your community apart. It is your job to get your community together, get them to think long term about rehabilitation, because this will not be going back to agriculture, but maybe you could get a nice golf course.”
But this afternoon, Ontario’s minister of the environment stated in a media release, “After careful consideration, the Minister of Natural Resources and I have agreed to bring forward a regulation making Highland Companies subject to the requirements of the Environmental Assessment Act. As a result the company will be required to undertake a comprehensive Environmental Assessment for the proposed quarry in Melancthon Township. Ministry of the Environment officials have thoroughly examined the technical reports which were submitted by the quarry proponents. Based on a review of those reports, and because of the unique nature of the Melancthon quarry proposal, I believe a full Environmental Assessment is necessary. The McGuinty government is committed to protecting our water and our environment. Today’s decision ensures that a transparent and independent assessment of the environmental impacts of Melancthon quarry proposal will be conducted.”
Winning an environmental assessment does not mean that the quarry will be turned down, nor does it mean that the government has quashed the company’s application (as we have demanded). But it is an important step forward to eventual winning this campaign.
While our work continues, it has included over the past months:
-In August, Ontario-Quebec organizer Mark Calzavara was in Orangeville for the presentation of a petition calling for an environmental assessment on the proposed quarry, http://canadians.org/blog/?p=10183. And campaigns/ communications administrative assistant Melissa Dick joined a tractor convoy opposed to the quarry, http://canadians.org/blog/?p=10166. Earlier in August, chairperson Maude Barlow threatened an ‘election war’ if the provincial government failed to quash the quarry proposal, http://canadians.org/blog/?p=9917.
-In July, Guelph chapter members Norah and Richard Chaloner, along with Norman Wolfson of the North Dufferin Agricultural and Community Taskforcce (NDACT), joined with Avaaz to deliver a massive petition with more than 100,000 signatures opposing the mega-quarry to Minister of Natural Resources Linda Jeffrey at her constituency office in Brampton, http://canadians.org/blog/?p=9584.
-In April, Barlow submitted a formal letter of objection to the quarry. She noted that below the proposed quarry lies an aquifer that forms the headwaters of five major river systems – the Pine, the Grand, the Nottawasaga, the Saugeen and the Beaver – that are important drinking water sources for more than a million people, http://canadians.org/blog/?p=6650. Also in April, Calzavara and organizing assistant Maryam Adrangi were in Melancthon to welcome quarry opponents who walked 115-kilometres from Toronto to Melancthon to raise broader public awareness about this issue, http://canadians.org/blog/?p=6634. And that same month, the Council posted an action alert demanding an extension of the public comment period on the quarry. Then Calzavara and Melancthon rancher Carl Cosack were at Queen’s Park to present the more than 1300 petitions resulting from that alert at Queen’s Park, http://canadians.org/blog/?p=6600. In early-April, Calzavara attend a public information session in Melancthon, http://canadians.org/blog/?p=9107.
-In March, Calzavara and national water campaigner Emma Lui visited the site of the quarry and met with local allies to support the campaign against the quarry, http://canadians.org/blog/?p=9700.
-In January, Calzavara spoke against the quarry at an NDACT organized public forum, http://canadians.org/blog/?p=5801.