Linda Jeffrey, Ontario’s Minister of Natural Resources
Yesterday, Sylvia Jones, a Conservative Member of the Provincial Parliament in Ontario, rose at Queen’s Park and made this statement to the legislative assembly, “I rise today with concerns over comments the Liberal Minister of Natural Resources, Linda Jeffrey, made to representatives from the township of Melancthon at a recent meeting.”
She explained that, “Late last week, the township received a submission to amend their official plan and zoning by-law to allow for a 2,300-acre limestone quarry. This is the largest application ever submitted in the province. The township, anticipating that a quarry application would be filed in the near future, proactively met with the minister last week during ROMA (Rural Ontario Municipal Association) concerning this pending application, as this issue is of great importance to the community. When meeting with the minister, the township’s council insisted on a thorough review of the application following the most rigid standards available through proven science and technology.”
But, “When meeting with the Melancthon delegation, the minister said, ‘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.’ A golf course? Twenty-three hundred acres is enough space for 15 golf courses. This statement leaves us with the impression that this Liberal minister had already chosen a side, even before the application for the quarry was filed. I share the mayor’s and Melancthon council’s concerns, and disbelief, quite frankly, regarding these comments. It is wrong for this minister to have chosen a side without allowing the MNR to complete a thorough and comprehensive review of the application and to have jeopardized the application, because residents are concerned that the minister is not impartial.”
Highland Companies has filed for permission to build a 2,400-acre quarry in Melancthon, a township just over 100 kilometres north of Toronto. The quarry could extend 200 feet deep, therefore below the water table. The aquifer there is a source area for the Nottawasaga River and the Grand River systems, which eventually flow into the Humber and Credit rivers. The quarry could impact the drinking water of more than a million people in the area extending from Lake Simcoe to Lake Erie. A local community group – the North Dufferin Agricultural and Community Taskforce – is seeking a specialty crop designation for the area in an effort to stop the quarry.
It appears that the township will hold a public information meeting on March 26 or April 2. The company says the last day for “public objections” is April 26.
The Council of Canadians is opposing the quarry. On January 16, 2010, Council of Canadians Ontario-Quebec organizer Mark Calzavara spoke against the project. To see a video of Mark’s presentation, go to http://canadians.org/campaignblog/?p=6743.
The Hansard transcript on this situation begins at 1510 at http://www.ontla.on.ca/web/house-proceedings/house_detail.do?Date=2011-03-09&Parl=39&Sess=2&locale=en.