NDP leader urges extension to mega-quarry extension
Release from Ontario NDP – April 21 2011
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath today urged the McGuinty government to extend the period of consultation on a controversial mega-quarry north of Shelburne.
Hansard – PRELIMINARY TRANSCRIPT
Ms. Andrea Horwath: My question’s to the Premier. A US-owned company wants to build North America’s second-largest open-pit mine next to the Niagara Escarpment and amidst the headwaters of rivers that provide drinking water for over a million Ontarians. Farmers, citizens, aboriginal people and environmentalists oppose this planned quarry, which will destroy thousands of acres of prime farmland.
The Ministry of Natural Resources is only allowing 45 days for public comment on this 3,000-page proposal. Will the Premier order a 120-day extension for public comment to allow full input from the growing number of concerned citizens?
Hon. Dalton McGuinty: The Minister of Natural Resources.
Hon. Linda Jeffrey: I’m very pleased to answer this question. I know that the member from Dufferin-Caledon has raised this issue in the past, and she has approached me to talk about it. There’s been lots of media concern expressed about this particular issue. I can confirm that the local district office has received a licence application, but I do want to make it clear that this is only the beginning of the Aggregate Resources Act process.
While legally, I cannot extend the comment period, I do intend to consider comments outside the official objection period. I would encourage all local citizens who have concerns with this project to become involved and engage with my ministry. I can tell you I met with the delegation of Melancthon township back in February at the Ontario Good Roads Association and the ROMA conference. I know the council is concerned and I want to ensure that their residents’ concerns are addressed. As I said, it’s the beginning of the process.
The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Supplementary?
Ms. Andrea Horwath: The Sierra Club, Lake Ontario Waterkeeper and the Council of Canadians all oppose this proposed quarry. Mark Calzavara of the Council of Canadians and Carl Cosack, a local farmer, are here in the gallery today. Tomorrow, they begin a five-day walk from Queen’s Park to the proposed quarry.
There is no reason to rush through a project of this scale. Some 1,300 Ontarians have written to the Premier, urging him to extend the period of public comment for 120 days beyond this Tuesday’s deadline. Will the Premier agree to this very reasonable request in order to allow for full public consultation on this quarry?
Hon. Linda Jeffrey: Even before the application was submitted, I know that the proposed quarry was the subject of significant local media attention, and certainly the councillors were very vocal about this issue. I know the residents are concerned about the preservation of the agricultural land. The Aggregate Resources Act has a process that gives the applicant up to two years—that would be March 10, 2013—to resolve any objections to the application. As I said, we’re at the very beginning of the process. If there are still unresolved objections to the licence application two years after, the Ministry of Natural Resources can refer the application to the Ontario Municipal Board. We’re at the very beginning of the process. I would ask local citizens who have concerns with the project to please become involved in the consultation process. I welcome their comments.