Brief encounter with Kevin Mitchell
Kevin Mitchell of Dufferin Aggregates in conversation. -AWARE Simcoe photo
By Kate Harries AWARE News Network
I wasn’t looking for trouble.
I wasn’t looking for anything much at today’s Dufferin Aggregates open house on its proposed expansion of its Teedon Pit, near Waverley.
As is the custom at such events, company representatives were dotted around the hall (at the Wyebridge Community Centre) next to beautifully produced boards illustrating aspects of what they say they plan to do. The messaging was self-serving and that’s fine; it’s what we expect. Hey, there might be a grain of truth in there, let’s pay attention.
I joined a group of four or five people and listened to the Dufferin guy. He was explaining how the water up near where they’re extracting gravel is not good quality and doesn’t even meet Ontario environment ministry drinking water standards. I interrupted and suggested that the point about the cleanliness of the water is that it gets filtered, by the aggregate that Dufferin is removing, and by the forest, that Dufferin is clearcutting, and it’s the water that emerges after that process, from the area’s artesian wells, that is exceptionally clean.
He replied … well, I switched on my recorder because I thought, I’ll listen to this later so I can concentrate and report exactly what he said. I took note of his name. Kevin Mitchell. He was dealing in broad generalities and said if we wanted more specifics, we should talk to the hydrogeologists on the other side of the room.
Then he stopped, and abruptly turned to me.
“You’re not taping this conversation, are you?”
I nodded yes.
“So that’s illegal,” he said. “So taping a conversation without telling (?) people is illegal.” Sorry, there’s a little bit of unintelligibility on my recording, so I’ve added the question mark where I can’t quite make out what he’s saying.
“Well, this is public, you’re speaking to a public forum,” I protested.
“No, no,” he said. “Taping a conversation is illegal and I would please ask you to stop.”
“Fine,” I said. I wasn’t looking for trouble. And there were people there who wanted their questions answered. Let the process play itself out. So I turned the recorder off.
But I regretted having done so when he continued to berate me. He became quite rude. He told me he didn’t trust me. (As far as I know, I have never met this gentleman.) I asked him why not. He said he thought I might splice the tape and misrepresent him to… the world, I guess. I wandered off and found another Dufferin representative.
I asked her who was the top company official in the room because I had a complaint. She pointed to Kevin Mitchell. Oh dear, I said, I guess I’m not going to get far with my complaint. I told her he wouldn’t let me record him even though this is a public meeting. She drew her shoulders up, sort of anguished, and made a face. Public information session, she corrected me.
Right. Not a meeting. Just a series of conversations.
I went over to the hydrogeologist, who was standing in front of a map that indicated various points of interest, including where sampling had been done by scientist William Shotyk (the Bocock chair of Agriculture at the University of Alberta, who first identified the water as being exceptionally clean).
I asked if I could record an interview with him. He looked a little anguished. I told him Kevin Mitchell had told me not to record what he (Mitchell) was saying. His look of anguish intensified. Kevin Mitchell is my boss, he explained. Ok, I said. We talked a little. After he tried to make some points about Shotyk’s research that I did not see as relevant, I decided to bail.
On my way out, some of the witnesses to the Kevin Mitchell confrontation came up to me. One guy from the Green Party explained how Mitchell was wrong about the taping being illegal. A Tiny Township councillor told me the same thing. One of the women who had been in the “conversation” said the fact Mitchell didn’t want to be recorded did not inspire confidence.
As I left, I noticed the sign at the entrance.
It said: “Welcome to the Teedon Pit Extension Aggregate Resources Act Public Meeting.”
Who is Kevin Mitchell? According to the company website, he is Dufferin’s director of property, planning and approvals. He should educate himself on what he’s doing. Under the Aggregate Resources Act.