Dave Levac MPP
96 Nelson Street, Unit 101
Re:Re: Brant County Citizens Exercise Their Rights Under The “Environmental Bill of Rights” in Challenging Dufferin Aggregates Proposed 600 Acre Paris Gravel Pit
The Concerned Citizens of Brant and supporting residents of Paris, Brant County and the surrounding area have raised significant issues regarding the planned opening of Dufferin Aggregates Gravel Pit on the north edge of Paris. The impact of the mine on the community and the environment of Paris and Brant County have not been assessed in a current and vigilant manner that would mitigate the topics of concern identified below.
In 1974, Dufferin Aggregates was issued a license by the Ministry of Natural Resources to commence operations at the Paris site. The license was supplemented by a schedule containing ten conditions deemed relevant according to their understanding of the area, the available transportation systems, road structures, environmental considerations and affected populations that existed at that time. In the following 38 years, Dufferin have opted not to commence mining operations on this site and, many of the circumstances that lead to the conditions placed on the license have changed significantly – making them obsolete or ineffective. Most of the current realizations related to source-water protection, the environment, wildlife, roadway infrastructure, and public safety have not been adequately assessed and addressed within the guidelines of today’s standards.
As residents of Brant County, the Town of Paris and surrounding area, we are strongly opposed to the commencement of this mining operation and we ask for your support in ensuring that the health, safety and concerns of our community are given the utmost consideration in this matter.
The following are our primary topics of concern:
Impact to Water Resources – The community of Paris and Brant rely on primary wells located adjacent to the aggregate site (The Telfer and the Gilbert Well Heads). The Dufferin property is situated primarily in a wellhead protection area and the water table in this area is quite shallow with most properties having dug or shallow drilled wells. Dufferin has been approved to mine throughout approximately 600 acres of this wellhead protection area and to a depth of approximately 20 feet below the water table on sections of the property. This activity will have a negative impact on the area wells and water supply. Mining will also strip away the natural hydrological filtering effect of the soil putting the community of 12,000 at greater risk of ground water contaminates seeping into the aquifers. In many regions in Ontario, open pit sand and gravel mining has been prohibited in wellhead protection areas as a proactive means of preserving source water resources. As a result of the unchecked continuance of the license issued to Dufferin Aggregates, our water resource is at risk of adverse effects to both water quality and water quantity.
Impact on local wildlife, plant life and habitat. The Dufferin site is situated directly between, and in close proximity to, the Gilbert Creek Watershed and the Grand River, both recognized as natural heritage systems that must be preserved. The property has many surface streams, springs and underground systems that feed into the Grand River from this location and affect water temperature and nutrients that help support a healthy aquatic environment for many species in this Heritage River. Disruption of this flow, or polluted runoff, could have a lasting negative effect on the health and vitality of the river downstream of the site. Grand River Conservation Authority studies have indicated that 70% of the drinking water for the town of Paris originates from the Gilbert Creek Watershed. The Watt’s Pond, and other ponds on and around the Dufferin property are home to snapping turtles and, for the past three years, have attracted attention from Toronto Zoologists who believe the area may be home to the Blanding’s Turtle – listed as an endangered species in Ontario. The areas along the Grand River and the Carolinian forests are hunting and breeding grounds for the Bald Eagle and wild turkeys. No consideration has been given to the impact of the Dufferin mining operation on the surrounding environmental systems and habitats that give life to a multitude of plant and animal species.
Impact due to Traffic, Noise and Safety Concerns. The primary access to the Dufferin site is Watt’s Pond Road which is currently a narrow rural roadway with a minimal structural foundation suitable for the light traffic that it is normally subjected to. No commitment has been put forward by Dufferin Aggregates to upgrade the necessary roadways in a manner that would sustain the heavy frequency of very large gravel trucks that would circulate throughout its planned shipping routes.
This rural road is host to many joggers and cyclists and is also part of the daily bus route for both primary and secondary school students. There is significant concern amongst residents that the proposed level of gravel truck traffic on this road would pose a serious danger to Brant’s residents and school children.
Dufferin Aggregates has publically stated that their operation will be “noisy”. However, they have not reasonably assessed the noise impact on local residences and the local wildlife from their crushing facility, nor from the gravel truck operations that would extend to 12 hours a day, up to 6 days a week for the next 20 to 30 years.
Impact on Air Quality – Truck diesel fumes and dust generated by the pit operations will affect local residences and the community of Paris. The original site plan and license was approved based on removing aggregates by rail. This option is no longer available since the rail line no longer exists. The continuous shipment of aggregate via gravel trucks (exceeding 30 trucks per hour) along the road systems has not been adequately assessed for the dust and pollutants that will be dispensed into the air. Additionally, the impact of the crushing plant and other equipment on the air quality has not been satisfactorily addressed.
In the past, the outcome of the Ontario Municipal Board hearing that established the basis for granting Dufferin Aggregates their license to operate, categorized the impact of this large scale mining operation with the following:
“The proposed operation would be a most innocuous operation… There would be no effect on the environmental character of the surrounding area…there would be compatibility with any existing dwellings in the area.”
Obviously today we are much more responsible to our community, our environment, our critical resources and our future. We formally request that your office meet with the Minister of Natural Resources and insist that due diligence be applied such that the approval of the Dufferin Aggregates license for this Paris location be withdrawn pending a complete and independent assessment of the proposed operation in a manner consistent with current standards. This must be done before Dufferin commence operations.
Time is of the essence.
Name: (Printed) ________________________________
cc Hon. Dalton McGuinty, Premier of the Province of Ontario
Hon. Michael Gravelle, Minister of Natural Resources
Hon. Dwight Duncan, Minister of Finance
Hon. James J. Bradley, Minister of the Environment
Hon. Bob Chiarelli, Minister of Transportation
Hon. Kathleen Wynne, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing