Tiny Township appealing Teedon Pit decision
‘I think it’s time to send David in to fight Goliath,’ says Wishart. “I think we’ve got more than a stone and a slingshot. We can fill the road out in front of the township office with people who want to support this effort, financially and in voice.’
By: Mehreen Shahid Midland Today
David will be fighting Goliath.
At a meeting Wednesday afternoon, Tiny Township council first listened to a couple more public comments, then went into an in-camera session before emerging determined to protect area groundwater.
Mayor George Cornell read the motion that council passed at its special meeting.
“…Council has taken the position that the township is fundamentally opposed to the extraction and washing of aggregate in environmentally sensitive areas, there’s presently a groundwater research project being lead by Profs. Michael Powell and William Shotyk, from the University of Alberta, Profs. John Cherry and Beth Parker, from the University of Guelph and Dr. Riley Mulligan and Dr. Elizabeth Priebe, from Ontario Geological Survey, and that the findings of these reports be taken into consideration by the province, prior to the issuance of any further licences,” he said, before asking for the vote.
Following the edict, the township’s legal counsel, Barrie’s Barriston Law will seek leave to appeal the Ministry of Environment, Conservation, and Parks’ permit to take water (PTTW) decision with the Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) (that’s part of the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal).
At the beginning of the meeting, Sue Walton, township clerk/director of legislative services, read two pieces of correspondence sent in by Tiny residents.
“I noticed statements from Tiny Township councillors and staff in the Jan. 18 meeting that no notification from the proponent, nor the EBR regarding the PTTW,” read Walton from Tiny’s Anne Ritchie Nahuis’ submission. “Many of the public did not receive notifications of the PTTW issued Jan. 14, With a short 15-day appeal process. This seems to be a method of avoidance.”
Then Walton read comments sent in by Paul Cowley, president, Federation of Tiny Township Shoreline Associations (FoTTSA).
“The ministry listed five types of concerns they received and dismissed,” read Walton. “It appears not to have believed the reports by the hydrogeologist Wilf Ruland about silt in neighbouring wells. It dismissed the concerns of Dr. William Shotyk and Dr. John Cherry, who have begun to explore the movement of the groundwater in the area of the pit.”
Cowley’s correspondence concluded by imploring council to appeal the ministry’s decision.
During the open session, councillors bounced around various ideas of addressing the issues at a municipal level.
Coun. Tony Mintoff asked whether the use of an interim control bylaw would have any applicability to the matter.
That was shot down by Sarah Hahn of Barriston Law, who suggested council revisit an earlier analysis it conducted with respect to wind turbines.
“The jurisdiction of the municipality and the fact that a bylaw cannot contradict a provincial regulation. I’m not sure if PTTW would be akin to the wind turbine situation,” she said.
“I think that there may be an argument that the provincial permit would trump the interim control bylaw,” added Hahn. “But we can look into it to confirm it.”
Mintoff said if an interim control bylaw was utilized when dealing with Site 41, it would be worth considering it as an option in this situation, too.
His peer, Coun. Gibb Wishart, however, said he wanted to take the province to task.
“I think it’s time to stop worrying about little things the township can do,” he said, adding the municipality needs to approach “somebody bigger, somebody who will say, ‘Wait, a minute, province. The municipality wants to protect water, and that’s what’s important.'”
Wishart said the whole works should come to a grinding halt, until the various reports come in.
“I think it’s time to send David in to fight Goliath,” he added. “I think we’ve got more than a stone and a slingshot. We can fill the road out in front of the township office with people who want to support this effort, financially and in voice.
“We need to go by the province and to someone that has more muscle,” said Wishart. “We’re not short of gravel. These guys are just thumbing their nose at us and they’ve got the province in their pocket.”
Coun. Cindy Hastings suggested the township should take water-quality monitoring into its own hands so it could identify any issues.
“I think we need to acknowledge that aggregate is very important to the province and residents, but it shouldn’t necessarily trump water,” she said.
Tim Leitch, acting chief administrative officer/director of public works, said the township does have monitoring wells being managed by the province.
“There are six at least that they regularly monitor,” he said. “We work through the SSEA (Severn Sound Environmental Associaion) on that. I’d have to reach out to them and see if there’s an interest from that standpoint.”
Mintoff wasn’t convinced if that was the answer.
“I think we’ve been advised by our staff that the permit addresses the township’s request for additional wells and has a robust monitoring program,” he said. “My problem is that perhaps by the time it identifies the problem, the harm is already done. If we’re going to spend any money, we should spend it to load our gun and prepare ourselves for the appeal, rather than taking on the responsibility of monitoring when somebody else is causing the problem.”
Text of resolution:
WHEREAS the Township became aware of a Permit to Take Water approval by the Ministry of the Environment Conservation and Parks (MECP) on January 15, 2021 at the Teedon Pit property at 40 Darby Road;
AND WHEREAS Council considered the presentations of January 26, 2021, from Mr. Dave Hopkins, Senior Hydrogeologist, R.J. Burnside & Associates Ltd. and Ms. Sarah Hahn, Barriston Law LLP;
AND WHEREAS Council has taken the position that:
The Township is fundamentally opposed to the extraction and washing of aggregate in environmentally sensitive areas.
There is presently a groundwater research project being led by Professors Michael Powell and William Shotyk from the University of Alberta, Professors John Cherry and Beth Parker from the University of Guelph and Dr. Riley Mulligan and Dr. Elizabeth Priebe from Ontario Geological Survey and that the findings of this report be taken into consideration by the Province prior to the issuance of any further licenses.
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT Council directs staff and Barriston LLP to seek leave to appeal the MECP decision;
AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT the costs associated with this matter (legal and consulting) be considered under the 2021 Budget Deliberations.