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Walker planning expert outlines justification for pit expansion

In Clearview
Oct 9th, 2010

Collingwood Enterprise Bulletin – October 1
Testimony resumed this week on Walker Aggregates bid to expand its quarry west of Duntroon, with the company’s planning expert explaining why the expansion meets the criteria to proceed.
Brent Clarkson also refuted comments made by the planning expert for the Niagara Escarpment Commission (NEC), Kathryn Pounder, who is opposed to Walker’s proposed Duntroon Quarry expansion.
Clarkson — who spent most of the week on the stand — was nearing the end of his testimony on Monday before the Consolidated Hearings Board reviewing Walker’s application for an expanded Duntroon Quarry.
He began the process of taking the board through his reply witness statement, which was drafted in response to statements about the application submitted by Pounder, and other representatives of the NEC and the Clearview Community Coalition.
In one instance he noted that Pounder had cited one reason for her opposition as being that the Niagara Escarpment — where the proposed expanded quarry would be located — is designated by UNESCO as a World Biosphere Reserve.
“A world biosphere reserve is not a ‘no touch zone’,” when it comes to development,” said Clarkson. He shared with the board information from the UNESCO web site which notes that the functions of a biosphere reserve include development, as well as conservation.
Clarkson later went on to dispute other rationalizations and interpretations Pounder had put forward in arguing that the quarry not be allowed to proceed.
Earlier in the day Clarkson reviewed in considerable detail why the application is in accordance with the Official Plan of Clearview Township.
The hearing resumed in a new location in Collingwood after a three-week break. It is now being held in rented space at 49 Huron Street, Suite 1 in Collingwood, near the intersection of Rodney Street and adjacent to the Sobey’s supermarket. The space that had been used in the Creemore Arena will no longer be available with the approach of hockey season and the prior booking of some of the rooms.
On Tuesday, Clarkson outlined in detail why objections to the proposed quarry application were either dealt with or not valid, referring to government and agency regulations and policy statements to explain his opinions. As part of his testimony he took the board through the list of issues raised by the various parties and explained how Walker had either addressed the issues raised or had determined that they were not legitimate.
In one example, Clarkson told the board how Walker had responded to a concern raised by Pounder. She had stated that the treatment of the side slopes indicated on the proposed rehabilitation plan for the expanded quarry was inconsistent with the scenic values of the lands in the vicinity of the escarpment. Clarkson said that Walker had found that suggestion to be reasonable, and modified its rehabilitation plan accordingly by agreeing to undertake additional tree planting on the side slopes.
 On Wednesday, Clarkson detailed Walker’s application for an extraction limit of 2.5 million tonnes annually, so as to be able to bid on any “mega proje c t s” that might be planned. He explained that this limit would allow Walker to ramp up production accordingly for the short duration of such a project. Walker had originally requested an extraction limit of 3 million tonnes per year.
In his testimony to the board Clarkson also spoke to the company’s plans to mitigate any possible impacts from the quarry by directing its experts to go above and beyond what was required by applicable legislation — including taking extra measures to protect the American Hart’s Tongue Fern and butternut trees on the site — to create a net gain for the environment when the quarry is rehabilitated.
Clarkson concluded his evidence in chief by recommending to the board that it request the Minister of Natural Resources to issue a licence to allow the quarry expansion to proceed.
During cross examination, the lawyer for the Niagara Escarpment Commission (NEC), Demetrius Kappos asked Clarkson to acknowledge that although the NEC was not in favour of the Dunt ro o n Quarry expansion, it has approved quarry applications on the escarpment. Clarkson agreed that this was the case.
Kappos then asked Clarkson about his interpretation of sections of the Niagara Escarpment Plan which referred to maintaining and enhancing the environment. Clarkson disagreed with Kappos’ suggested meaning of the phrase, stating, “I don’t interpret maintain and enhance to mean that you can’t make any changes.”
At the end of the day’s cross examination, Walker lawyer Mary Bull objected to Kappos’ questioning Clarkson about concerns on the part of the NEC relating to the impact an expanded quarry would have on the “cultural heritage” of the area. Bull argued that if the NEC had concerns about this matter, it should have raised them by including them on the application’s issues list, so that Walker could have called a witness to speak to cultural heritage.
Board chair Chris Conti said the board would make a ruling on whether this line of questioning could continue when the hearing resumed yesterday.
In an unrelated matter, lawyers for all parties today came to a tentative agreement in dealing with an issue that has arisen in the past few weeks. As of tomorrow, the bobolink bird will be classified as threatened under the province’s Endangered Species Act. This bird was identified as being on or near the site during the field investigations undertaken by Walker’s environmental consultants
The lawyers agreed that Walker would bring testimony from a bird expert as soon as possible to speak to whether this issue is of any significance to the quarry application. The testimony would then be reviewed by Clearview Township and Simcoe County, and by experts for the opposing parties — namely the Niagara Escarpment Commission, the Clearview Community Coalition and quarry neighbour Emelia Franks.

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