• Protecting Water and Farmland in Simcoe County

Brief encounter with Kevin Mitchell

In Council Watch
Mar 5th, 2019
Kevin Mitchell, Dufferin Aggregates

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.

4 Responses to “Brief encounter with Kevin Mitchell”

  1. Christine Nugent says:

    I found this format of “public meeting ” designed to suppress open discussion and information sharing as public meetings generally allow. The format of posted billboards of information which provided a plethora of data difficult to figure out as an individual without discussion and dialogue. We were unable , during this “open ” meeting to hold the Dufferin representatives to account. The disorganization served to “dis” inform. How rude to insult and suppress our community AWARE reporter.

  2. Don Morgan says:

    Kevin did not believe that Alliston Aquifer has purest water. Did not appreciate that this aquifer services drinking water needs through to a Toronto. His argument was that a pit in Caledon has a well right next to it and the water from it is pure. This whole process was nothing but a propaganda show and tell. This Dufferin person was the same individual who told Indigenous individuals they were wrong on the consultation process and who had been consulted. Typical corporate spin doctor. Paid well I am sure.

  3. Donna Deneault says:

    My husband and I read this article. We could not be more disappointed and disgusted. Thoughts of Dump Site 41 rolled around my head last night. This Kevin person has no background in hydro geology. He has not business speaking about water “quality”. I am going to send yet another letter to MNR, for whatever good it will do. Am I to understand that this Dufferin Aggregate purchased this land “after” the Site 41 win? How is this possible? Can someone tell me “who” sold it to them and when?…or tell me how to find out? We are disheartened, but we are not going to stop trying.
    Kate, we feel badly that this happened to you. The Toronto papers should hear about this one!

  4. Kate Harries Kate Harries says:

    Thanks, Donna. This was not a problem for me but I’d certainly like to see respect from the company, for the community and the water.

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