Opposition Letters: Cut and Paste for MNRF - Dec 14.2020 deadline

 

This is important: 
Your letter MUST be sent to both MNRF and Nelson Aggregate, and MUST include your full mailing address, including postal code. Without your full mailing address your letter will not be accepted. 

Please copy and paste ALL these recipient emails:

To: tecia@white-water.caARAApprovals@ontario.ca
CC: coreburlington@gmail.comJanice.Hogg@halton.ca; gordon.dickson@burlington.caleahsmith@hrca.on.cajohn.stuart@ontario.ca

Subject: Nelson Aggregate Burlington Comment 

Here's a sample letter you may cut and paste. After you've done that, go back to the instruction page and continue on with Step 3.



To The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry,
 

I’m writing to officially declare my opposition to the application from Nelson Aggregate to blast two new open-pit mines in Burlington’s escarpment.

(Then say something personal about yourself: for example - I’ve been a resident of Burlington for x-many years, I live on such and such road, etc).

I am opposed to these new quarries because I am deeply concerned about the negative impact that the continued quarrying of Burlington’s Niagara Escarpment UNESCO World Biosphere will have on (pick any of the following):

 

  • our natural environment in north Burlington, including wildlife, streams and woodlands.

  • the quantity and quality of our well water and on the streams and wetlands served by the headwaters of Mount Nemo.

 

  • on the value of my home, which is my most important asset and is something that will be devalued should this industrial quarrying operation be permitted.


(Then consider adding any of the following):


I am alarmed by the increasing heavy gravel truck traffic on our rural roads and irritated by the dust associated with these trucks.


I am tired of the dust and vibration associated with the blasting.

I am extremely worried about the possibility of potentially contaminated fill being added to Nelson Aggregate’s current quarry site and the threatening impact this could have on the future safety of well water.

I am profoundly opposed to the permanent destruction of 124 additional acres of prime farmland and green space in our increasingly urban GTHA.

 

I do not believe that the promise of a distant, future park in the current quarry site offsets the destruction of these precious open lands in Burlington’s backyard.

 

I believe the need for close-to-market greenspace trumps the need for close-to-market aggregate.

(Then a final statement such as...):

The decisions made now by politicians and professionals will impact City of Burlington residents for generations to come. Please decide in favour of a living escarpment.

Thank you for your time and consideration of our concerns.

Sincerely,

Your name
Your full address, including postal code

Continue on with Step 3

or check out the letters below to see what people are saying...

The following letters are the voice of the Escarpment, written by people who are determined to protect Burlington's backyard from the environmental catastrophe of two new open-pit mines, totaling a 124 acres of blast area.  The people of Burlington have done their time with quarries.

Letter from Petra Hess

Hello,

 

I am writing to let you know why I STRONGLY oppose a quarry expansion.

 

I bought my home on the Escarpment in Burlington in 2005. At the time I expressed a concern about the current quarry. I was told that the current quarry was close to being finished and would then be filled in. We then won the battle on the application and all of us thought that this would be the end of the quarry as we know it on Mount Nemo. At that point I moved forward and made renovations to my house and did extensive landscaping outside.  This recent application certainly blindsided me and my neighbors. Here are the reasons we need to STOP this application.

 

  • The dust is beyond belief.  I clean my patio furniture glass in the morning and by lunchtime I can write my name in the dust. If you open the windows in your house you will be dusting 2 times minimum daily. You must also consider we are breathing that dust.

  • I need to backwash my pool filter every second day from the dust that falls in the water.

  • I have cracks in my walls and ceilings from the blasts.

  • Pictures move on the walls when there is blasting.

  • The trucks racing up and down Guelph Line are relentless. Most of these drivers are paid by the load so the faster the better for them. It is a very dangerous road to navigate when the quarry is open.

  • The land we have left in this area for wildlife needs to be protected.

  • The noise from the quarry begins at 5:30 AM and carries on until at least 6 PM in an area of Burlington that should be relatively quiet.

 

Burlington needs to fight to put an end to the destruction of the escarpment. As far as the quarry turning into a park……… that is just pure ………..

 

Petra Hess

This letter is published with the permission of the writer.

Letter from Pearl Lande

Re:  Proposed expansion of existing quarry by Nelson Aggregates.

The further rape of something so preciously called “the UNESCO World Heritage Site atop the Niagara Escarpment in the Northern Burlington Countryside”  by the quarry, must not be permitted to continue! Fifty years of being blasted dug and dusted in Burlington is enough. 

 

Many already know the obvious reasons why further expansion is not beneficial to Burlington:

 

The decimation of wooded areas and critical habitat for fish, birds, deer, coyotes, and endangered wildlife have already caused irreversible damage to the environment and its inhabitants.  The massive loss of precious water over many years threatens our water security. Groundwater becomes further contaminated by airborne particles and toxic emissions as nearby wells run dry.  

 

Surrounding neighbors’ homes are violently shaken and structurally damaged by the relentless quarry blasting. There is persistent wear and tear on our roads and vehicles caused by the heavy gravel-filled dump trucks spewing forth sharp dirty pebbles cracking windshields all the way down Guelph Line (a major Burlington artery).   Machinery and equipment create more pollution, congestion, noise, and dust. There is an increased risk of accidents in a residential area that threaten our public health and safety.  

 

It is a legal requirement for aggregate producers to mitigate their harmful impact.  The law requires them to rehabilitate the devastated area in order to renew their aggregate license.  Once the final section has been extracted, they are required to complete any rehabilitation that remains.

 

According to the Ontario Aggregate Resource corporation, “the rehabilitation of any site is paid for entirely from the 0.6 cents portion of the tonnage fee paid by aggregate producers - in short at no cost to the property owner!”

Why not begin now? It is not necessary to keep the quarry going for twenty-five more years!  More than enough stone sand and gravel has been extracted for all of Ontario and beyond. 

 

This is not just a “NIMBY” (not in my backyard) request to deny expansion which is most unsuitable for the proposed location,  but one for the protection and future enhancement of good planning and usage for Burlington.

 

Dangled in front of us by the quarry, contingent upon approval to proceed with the expansion, is a slick and generous promise to donate and rehabilitate 663 acres of destroyed lands over the course of four phases within twenty-five more years!  There is no guarantee of parks, walking trails and beaches as described in the website as city planners rightly have the final say as to what the best land use will be.

 

The important goal is to decommission the quarry as soon as possible to prevent further abuse of our wetlands and the repeated decimation of our heritage site.  Now is the time to enhance and encourage biodiversity rather than destroy lives and habitat. This is one of the most important life support systems on earth to help regulate atmospheric gasses and climate cycles.  

 

The expansion of the Nelson Quarry will have a negative impact on the Burlington community and the environment. Let’s keep our community proudly the best in the World. 

 

Pearl Lande and family

Burlington Resident

Masters in Environmental Management

Harvard University

This letter is published with the permission of the writer.

Letter from Elaine La Chappelle

Hello Brynn

 

I am writing to express my concerns that once again the City of Burlington is in the position of having to decide the fate of the Niagara Escarpment. I regret that years ago we were not able to get the Burlington area of the Escarpment designated to disallow any more quarrying.

 

Quarrying is a terrible use of this natural land formation. At a time when we need to protect the natural air and water filters (trees, greenery, wetlands/streams) we are actually considering destroying them, instead replacing them with pollution and dust. As Burlington intensifies it’s population, the City needs the oxygen provided by these natural lands right in our own backyard. It needs the water filtration provided by the Escarpment so that Lake Ontario can continue to provide clean drinking water to our City. Creating a new quarry on the Escarpment was a bad idea in 2004 when Nelson submitted their last application, and it’s still a bad idea now.

 

One of the best things that the City of Burlington has done over the years is to protect it’s rural areas from high-density development. As destructive as intensified housing can be to a rural area, quarrying is 100 times worse.

 

Please deny any new application for more open-pit mining on the Escarpment. Do it as soon as possible so that this destructive application doesn’t suck too much of the City’s financial resources that we need to address important social issues, like housing affordability and homelessness.

 

Thank you for considering my comments and for doing the right thing.

 

Sincerely

                                                                                           

Elaine La Chappelle

Burlington

This letter is published with the permission of the writer.

Letter from Stephanie Todman

Good afternoon Ms. Nheiley,

 

This email is to officially state my opposition to Nelson Aggregate's proposal to expand their open-pit mine on the Mt. Nemo plateau here in Burlington.

 

As a life-long resident of North Burlington (first Kilbride, then Cedar Springs Community, now Cedar Springs Road) I wish to fervently state that the residents here have done their time with living next to this quarry. The original plan for the Nelson quarry was, I believe, to shut down after a certain number of years. That deadline has come and gone, Nelson pushed their way into overstaying their welcome and their original agreement, and I do not trust that they will a) wrap up this new quarry when they say they will or b) turn it into any kind of park. I hope you will agree with me in the observation that a scar blasted into the earth, no matter how pretty the parkland added later, can never EVER replace the delicate ecosystems that will inevitably be lost. Regardless of timelines or agreements, the fact that blasting out the heart of a globally recognized and protected section of precious land is even being considered, is astounding and shameful. 

 

I live a few kilometres north of the current quarry (their blasting makes my dishes rattle), and do not appreciate that the city only notified residents within 120m of the proposed expansion area. This isn't a renovation to my neighbour's deck, but a multimillion, multi-acre, gargantuan undertaking. Far more residents should have been notified. 

 

The City of Burlington takes pride in its green spaces and its stewardship of the environment - heck, we even closed King Road every spring for years and then built a special tunnel so that the Jefferson salamander could cross safely. This very same little critter was deemed too sensitive the last time Nelson tried to expand their operation and was a large factor as to why their application was denied. I cannot, for the life of me, understand why the same company, proposing to do the same thing, in the same area, affecting the same environment, is even allowed to try and push this application forward. It was stopped once and should be stopped again. Permanently. 

 

It's time for Nelson to close up shop here in Burlington. End. Of. Story.

 

Thank you.

 

Stephanie Todman

Burlington

This letter is published with the permission of the writer.

Letter from Sita Ganesan

Dear Ms. Nheiley,
 

I’m writing to officially declare my opposition to the application from Nelson Aggregate to blast two new open-pit mines in Burlington’s escarpment.

 

I am an ecologist and landscape architect by training who has grown up and lived in Burlington for the last 20 years. My work is primarily in restoration ecology. I am deeply unsettled by the proposal to open two open-pit mines in a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, and frankly rather shocked that this proposal is even being considered.

 

Mining companies in Ontario have a nasty habit of opening their mines, extracting their resources, and then conveniently declaring bankruptcy without cleaning up their mess. The damages caused by the opening of these mines will cause damages to the surrounding ecosystem for decades to come, not just the land on which the new mines will be situated. I do not believe that the mines will be restored appropriately, nor within a reasonable time frame. Additionally, no restoration process can restore a natural environment to its original state, as I have found through my work. It is likely that the advancement of this project will ultimately lead to the loss of one of the few natural environments left in this area (not to mention the Biosphere designation).

 

Under the threat of climate change and continued habitat destruction, I frankly find it disgusting that this proposal is being entertained. I am young – I will have to live with these changes and the destruction wrought by climate change. The threat to our water quality, wildlife, streams, and woodlands, and the impact on young people should vastly outweigh the short-sighted possibility of a quick buck.

 

I trust that our elected representatives will vote against this application and will likewise allocate our hard-earned tax dollars to the hiring of lawyers and experts who will fight to protect Burlington’s exceptional escarpment.

The decisions made now by politicians and professionals will impact City of Burlington residents for generations to come. Please decide in favour of a living escarpment.

Thank you for your time and consideration of my concerns.

Sincerely,

Sita Ganesan

This letter is published with the permission of the writer.

Letter from Aline Tso

                                 Application submission by Nelson Quarry to expand
 

Dear Ms Brynn Nheiley,


Thank you for receiving these observations re: Nelson Quarry’s Application to Expand.


Conversation around mineral extraction on the Escarpment had been on going in Burlington and Halton since Nelson Quarry last applied for expansion. Grassroots group were formed to give voice to questions that arose from the conversations.

 

P.E.R.L. was the first and main grassroots organization to form. Leaders and members accompanied all steps of the process required for the application to progress.  They did the heavy lifting to engage legal counsel, scientific counsel; liaise with all levels of government and attend a year of hearings. Along the way, the group gained invaluable education.   
7-G, was another group formed as a think tank to imagine what the Escarpment might look like Seven Generations into the future. The group’s objective is to seek and to introduce ideas not yet common into mainstream conversation.  7- G is a, normal, matter of fact, everyday concept in Indigenous lives. The concept that each generation is the ancestor to future ones is not a conscious part of most non-indigenous psyches. Conscious or not, actions taken by the present generation will always have consequences for future generations.  The “close to market” requirement for aggregate extraction is a good example of a decision ancestors made decades ago affecting this generation. This clause needs review and modification.  Duration and hierarchy of protective designations and legal clauses from the past need conversation and examination.


Would securing a Heritage Site designation for Mount Nemo Plateau give another layer of protection to ensure nature is not disturbed? Is preserving nature in its natural states what good ancestors can do for future generations?  The idea has yet to enter into the legal realm. The major explanation is that, as part of the Niagara Escarpment, two other conservation labels already embrace the area - the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve designation being one. 

   
As Nelson files another application, C.O.R.E. Burlington (Conserving Our Rural Ecosystems of Burlington Inc.) has stepped up to voice concerns. Inclusion of ecosystems in its name moves towards a fuller understanding of the meaning of ecosystems.
Potentially, focus can now shift from a narrow human framed geographic location and needs, to what whole functioning ecosystems means.   


The present application is not the only one along the Escarpment. During the last application, Burlington, as well as the Quarry Company, had spent substantial financial resources for legal counsel and scientific studies. Instead of each community addressing issue separately, can all concerned jointly study the issue as a group?


Water is a major concern.  Needs for mineral extraction and location of where least damage to ecosystems need to be explored.  Total costing for mineral extraction needs, has to put a value in the accounting for water, essential to life itself.     
The Future of Life, a book by Edward O. Wilson clearly shows long term survival of humankind is linked to survival of ecosystems. In Chapter Five, How Much is the Biosphere Worth, the book tells the story of New York City’s precedence setting decision, when their water quality and quantity started to deteriorate.  Their decision gave measurable short term, and long term, financial savings, in the billions followed by hundreds of million, when they opted for nature’s way to restore ecological function to the Catskills ecosystem, the source of their water.  

 
On the Niagara Escarpment, let the idea be seeded for Decision Makers, Mineral Extraction Companies, Grassroots Citizens’ Groups to agree to be the generation of ancestors willing to analyse the Escarpment, as a whole; to be the generation to understand balance of destructive and restorative doable activities on the Escarpment and to still conserve its full ecological function seven generations into the future.

Sincerely,
Aline Tso
Burlington Citizen - 54 years.
Escarpment Resident - 53 years.


 

This letter is published with the permission of the writer.

Letter from Mark Inglis

Dear Brynn Nheiley,

 

What is the alternative to blasting two new open pit mines in the escarpment? Has anyone given it a thought? In place of the monster rocks that are used in landscapes, wood (renewable) or precast or nothing at all can be used.  The granular from extraction has the alternative of recycled concrete or materials from other sources at longer distances, which have less impact on the water that we require.  

 

Need has the impact of creating ingenuity.  If materials are not mined in the escarpment, designers and developers will be ingenious enough to find alternatives. Allowing open pit mines requires a defined need for which there are no other alternatives. Burlington, and the Hamilton area, need to think more like the dense cities of Vancouver, New York and Barcelona. How do they work without close sources of materials? The Hamilton area needs to think progressively and look to a sustainable urban future. 

 

I oppose the new open pits mines in the escarpment, a world biosphere reserve.

Mark Inglis

This letter is published with the permission of the writer.

Letter from Lyn and Scott Patterson

"Good afternoon Mayor Marianne Meed Ward, Councillors and Regional Chair Gary Carr,

 

It is our understanding Nelson Aggregate has officially submitted application to expand the existing quarry and we are writing to express our concerns. As proud local Burlington residents, and this is not a case of 'NIMBY's, we have lived within 2 kms of the quarry for the past 9 years - resided in North Burlington for 20 years prior to moving to our current home on Medad Springs Court.

 

We have very serious and valid concerns should the application to expand the quarry an additional 124 acres for two new quarries be approved:

  • The threat to the quantity and quality of our well water (we see dump trucks driving into the quarry full of asphalt to be disposed-of on a regular basis).

  • Quality of the Air we breathe; Fresh Air will become Dust Air.

  • Impact of increased blasting - currently our windows rattle and the house vibrates with each blast. Increase in repairs to our home will likely be required due to additional cracking and shifting.  

  • The detrimental impact on the Natural Environment, wild life, wetlands and endangered species …all a huge benefit to the City of Burlington's rural landscape. Daily sightings of wildlife and numerous varieties of birds will likely diminish.

  • Additional traffic, noise & dust; trucks consistently speed up & down Guelph Line and run the red light on a regular basis - this is an ongoing concern for all residents of Burlington.

  • Foreseeable decrease in property values.

 

Will Burlington be at risk of losing the designation of being an UNESCO Biosphere Reserve should you allow two open pit mines?  It is our understanding, Nelson Aggregate is able to continue within its existing boundaries for another 50 years and if so, why would the expansion be considered?

 

Scott & I are opposed to the expansion and expect each of you to vote against this application. We work hard to pay our taxes and would appreciate your help in fighting to keep Burlington's Rural area Beautiful & Environmentally Friendly for everyone.

 

Thank you for representing our concerns.

 

Sincerely,

Scott & Lyn Patterson

This letter is published with the permission of the writers.

Letter from Dr. Michele Pakozdi and Ron Loggie

"Dear Mayor Meed Ward and all Burlington Councillors,

We are writing in response to the recent news that Nelson Aggregate has officially submitted their application for two new open-pit mines in Burlington's UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve.  As residents of North Burlington for the past five years, we have grave concerns about the impact of the proposed Nelson Aggregate quarry expansion on our family, our home, and our community at large.

Our first concern is the impact on the water table and the very real possibility of contamination and disruption of the water supply in the well on our property.  

 

Our second concern is noise pollution and damage to our home as a result of the blasting.  The blasts have intensified greatly in recent weeks within their current quarry location, which is much further from our home than the proposed expansion.

 

The border of the proposed west expansion extends frighteningly close to the front of our property on Cedar Springs Rd, which will inevitably impact the property value of our most important investment.  Although we have been told that truck traffic will remain directed towards Guelph Line, we are concerned that with the west expansion, there will be an inevitable temptation for trucks to reroute onto Cedar Springs Rd, which will have further noise and traffic implications.  The paving on Cedar Springs Rd is already in dire need of repairs, and the truck traffic will only worsen the road conditions in an accelerated manner.  We made the decision to move to this beautiful area to enjoy a rural lifestyle, and fear that the noise and air quality pollution of the quarry expansion will negatively impact not only our lives but our community as a whole. 

One of the many reasons the previous expansion application by Nelson Aggregates in 2004 was ultimately denied was that it was proven that the expansion would negatively impact at-risk species native to this remarkable area.  Burlington’s UNESCO World Biosphere’s Carolinian forests, agricultural lands, wetlands, and endangered species deserve better than to be subjected to continued exploitation by Nelson Aggregates.  

We hope that our elected representatives will vote against this expansion application and will vote to spend our hard-earned tax dollars to fight back with lawyers and experts against Nelson’s deep corporate pockets to put a stop to this application.  

Thank you kindly for listening to and representing our concerns.

Sincerely,

Mr. Ron Loggie and Dr. Michele Pakozdi"

This letter is published with the permission of the writers.

Letter from Bradley Crawford

25 February 2020


The Honourable Doug Ford


Premier of Ontario


Legislative Building


Queen’s Park
Toronto, ON
M7A 1A1

Dear Premier
                                                           re: Nelson Aggregate Proposal re Quarry, Burlington


I write to you to draw your attention to an issue that is deeply troubling to residents in the area of Burlington where the Nelson Aggregate Company has operated a quarry since about 1953 at 2433 No, 2 Sideroad, Burlington ON, l7P 0G8. The site is across the road from the Mount Nemo Conservation Area and within a few hundred metres of about 100 houses to the North and South on Cedar Springs Road, Guelph Line, No, 2 Sideroad and Mount Nemo Road. The Bruce Trail runs to the West along the fence on the northern boundary of the pit. Although the term of its original licence is now expiring, the company is preparing a proposal that it be permitted to expand its grounds to the South and West. The objective is to access another tens of millions of tons of aggregate for use in road and building construction in the Golden Horseshoe.

    The company’s representatives made a presentation of the plan to a meeting of residents on Tuesday 19 February 2020 at a golf club that would be excavated if the proposal is approved. The meeting was well attended by about 200 local residents, all of whom were concerned about the proposal in varying degrees, up to and including emotionally and vehemently opposed. A presentation by a consultant for the company explained that their concerns were groundless because quarries in the Province are subject to about 30 provincial regulations dealing with blasting, air quality, water conservation, habitat protection and the like. That gentleman also explained the specific precautions that the company plans to take to minimize the impact on the community, and the undertaking that the company will give to remediate any damage to property or water resources (the community depends on private wells and the quarry is now operating below the water table) if its precautions prove to be inadequate.


    I am not retained as counsel in this matter. I have been a resident of the area since 1989, having a seasonal house within the grounds of Cedar Springs Community Club on the Bronte River, about a mile away. I expressed to the meeting my concern that the existence of so many regulations and precautions and undertakings seemed to confirm that blasting for aggregate is officially recognized as a hazardous activity. I questioned why the company sought to impose the attendant risks and disturbances and loss of recreational space, peace and quiet on the community for another 50 years when there are other less sensitive sites in the Province that have yet to be exploited for aggregates. The company representative explained that the existing site was preferable to any other, principally because of its proximity to the market for the aggregate produced. He offered the suggestion that the company was actually acting out of care for the environment by not locating its operations further from the site, so that its transport vehicles would emit less green house gas and other pollutants than if they were transporting the aggregate to market from further North. Viewing this from a resident’s perspective, this amounts to an admission that the demand for aggregate and the desire for the profit to be made from it are more important to the company than the preservation of an invaluable resource close to three growing communities. The company’s claim of environmental sensitivity in minimizing the emissions from their trucks by operating close to their customers is, with respect, a weak defence.


    Premier, I hope it is as clear to you as it is to me that the company is proceeding on a false premise in proposing to continue quarrying aggregate at this site. The precautions and undertakings that it is offering would be appropriate if the resource it wishes to exploit were of critical importance to the safety or security of the community at large. In such a case, citizens would accept the risks in the interests of meeting the Province’s vital requirements for the product. But that is not the case here.
The Mount Nemo site is a terrible location for an activity as destructive and disruptive as blasting limestone, crushing it into aggregate and trucking it away, sapping the water table and driving wildlife away. The area provides recreational resources to the growing populations of Burlington, Milton and Waterdown. It is within the area designated in 1990 by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization as a World Biosphere Reserve. I am told that two Provincial agencies with mandates to protect the natural environment – the Niagara Escarpment Commission and Halton Conservation – have written to oppose the continuation of the company’s quarrying operations on the site. My reading of the legislation indicates that the final decision rests with your government.


    The opposition of these agencies and of the adjacent communities is based on personal concerns for peace and quiet, not blasting; safe and reliable quantities of water, not compensation and importation; little traffic, not heavy vehicles loaded with aggregate.; country walks and activities; not blasting and dust and disruption. But this is not simply another feeble case of NIMBYism. The escarpment provides parkland, woodlands, recreational space, the Bruce Trail, golf and fishing in season for a growing number of residents of the surrounding area. It supports a rich environment of deer, owls, grouse, wild turkeys, numerous species of waterfowl, songbirds. and many other elements.


    You have publicly committed your government to preserve the greenbelt properties in the Golden Horseshoe to the extent reasonably practicable. That does not mean that every opposing plea will be granted. But, please consider: this area has paid its dues on this activity by living with the quarrying for more than 60 years. Recreational environments are vanishingly scarce in this area now, unlike the circumstances in 1953. The company’s promise of a public park and lake in another 50 or 60 years when – and if - the quarry refills after the company’s pumps are turned off is no consolation to the persons at that meeting last Tuesday. Or to their children, or their children’s children. Persons forming the fourth generation following might see some benefit, perhaps, if the environment recovers and the wildlife return. That is not conservation; it is descration.


   I respectfully request – I urge you – to acknowledge the contribution that this community has made to the development of the Province’s infrastructure and development since 1953 in their patience in tolerating the disruption and damage while awaiting the end of the disruptive activity on the site. Please do not let crass considerations of low-cost transport to market be the key factor in your decision whether to accept the company’s proposal. Protect this sensitive environment; protect the recreational lands and ambiance for the people of the area and the surrounding communities. Please stop the quarry now – not after another 50-some-odd years.


Yours very truly,

Bradley Crawford, Q.C.

 

This letter is published with the permission of the writer.

Letter from Wendy Diaz

June 5, 2020

Dear Sir/Madam,

I am writing in response to the recent announcement that the Nelson Aggregate Co. (Nelson) has submitted a partial application for two new quarries adjacent to their current open pit operation on the Mount Nemo plateau. My mother, Marion Millar (ne Coverdale) and father, Cameron Millar (now deceased) were raised on farms and then together operated the golf course family business in the Mount Nemo area. Our family has lived and worked adjacent to the quarry for three generations along with my other Millar/Coverdale/Colling relatives. In fact, the photo on the web page for the Cultural Heritage report on the Nelson Quarry website is the former home of my aunt and uncle (Jean and Bruce Millar). I feel privileged to have grown up in this beautiful rural area on No. 2 Side Road but I also have first hand experience of what it is like to live next to this open pit mine.

     I remember feeling the shaking of the earth after a blast while lying on our lawn in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Our bedrock water well had to be deepened because my mother lost water in a formerly abundant aquifer after extraction expanded westward towards their property. Her appliances caked with calcium deposits from high turbidity in the groundwater, probably from years of blasting and fracturing of the dolostone bedrock; and numerous heavy-noisy hauling trucks and dust are just a few of the negative affects experienced while living near this open pit mine. We have witnessed the decline of wildlife and water resources over the life span of the quarry's operation. The quality of the fill currently being hauled and deposited in the existing quarry and its potential deleterious affect on groundwater quality in a highly-fractured bedrock aquifer is an additional concern. The level of uncertainty for long-time residents and new recent homeowners has increased following Nelson’s announcement on July 30, 2019 to renew an attempt to license bedrock extraction south of No. 2 Side Road and add an additional area to the west. The constant lingering threat of new quarries creates uncertainty and anxiety in the community and with potential residential homebuyers who perceive the industrial activity negatively, thereby adversely impacting real estate and property values.

 

     My mother and I have written against the expansion of the quarry in the past and sent a 6 page letter with technical details in 2008 to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Nelson Aggregate Company outlining 9 major concerns that still remain relevant to the new application, ranging from groundwater quality and quantity, wetland impacts, blasting damage on home structures etc. Today, in this shorter letter, I decided to be more retrospective and take an even longer view of the proposed ramifications for this latest application and provide context of what has already been permanently lost so I can encourage a grander and more sustainable vision from our elected officials for the Mount Nemo plateau. If more extraction is permitted around the Nelson Quarry, no rehabilitation, park or lake promised 50 years in the future would adequately replace this unique place. The current photo of the remediated northeast corner of Nelson Quarry on their website is misleading as it does not show the current operations and the big crater.

 

     I became interested in preventing mining and more industrial use of this area at an early age ever since my mother handed me a consultants report in the mid-1980’s, which at the time reviewed the potential of using the old quarry pit as a future sanitary landfill. I was also inspired by the subsequent activism of my aunt (she went door to door to gather signatures for a petition against a proposed landfill in the existing quarry). The original permitting of the quarry in the 1950’s has opened the door for other industrial land use practices such as an on-site asphalt plant: what next? The opposition to the quarry has been going on for decades with each new threat or exploitive proposal presented to the community.

 

     Last summer, it was necessary for my 89 year old mother to move from her matrimonial home but she still owns 46 acres adjacent to the existing quarry and when I told her that Nelson had bought Burlington Springs Golf Course (her father’s old farm), she became very agitated and disturbed to think her former childhood home could become another quarry and the community will have to endure another 30 years of mining. She then recounted a story (that I heard her tell before) about how her father, my grandfather born in 1900, complained of the quarry blasts and worried about the boulders on the fields. There is a reason the Cedar Springs Road area, as it is also known, was so named by early farmers and that was for the multiple springs in the area and abundant, accessible potable water for agriculture and human consumption. The high water table and abrupt changes in ground elevation resulted in many springs in the area. My mother told me a story that many years ago the Town of Burlington drilled test wells for a potential municipal supply well near her father’s property. She spent almost her entire life in this area and told me about her own Huck Finn-type adventure as a child by attempting to navigate the nearby creek with a friend on a hand built raft. She told me of regularly observing redwing blackbirds in the small wetlands, long since dried up, in farmer’s fields. I remember the loud chorus of frogs during the first warm and wet days of spring and the sudden feeling of cold water on my feet as I walked across the bottom of our spring fed pond where I swam as a youth. Now the same pond does not hold as much water past the spring melt. Down the road, the Dakota Mill with its 18-foot water wheel (named after a band of Dakota who camped nearby with government surveyors when this area was the frontier and referred to as ‘Canada West’(1) built around 1840, had plenty of water to mill lumber and grain until it burnt down in the mid-1970’s.

     Mount Nemo is often referred to as Burlington’s backyard and is the home of many golf courses and recreational areas. As the current Covid-19 pandemic reminds us, we need green space preserved now and golf courses and parks in the area provide a respite for cooped-up urban dwellers. Recently, the preserved rural area has also been a desirable location setting for the film industry.

     We are rapidly loosing the generation that remembers what the area was like before the quarry commenced operations in the 1950’s; in keeping with a historical retrospective, the attached 1877 Nelson Township map (2) helps to show what we have already lost due to dewatering of the Mount Nemo outlier and urban expansion below the escarpment. It illustrates that this proposal has indirect affects on more than the rural residents of the Mount Nemo area. The historical map depicts the Mount Nemo outlier, a regional recharge zone, and details at least 10 streams and creeks emerging from its base that eventually stretched out across what is now the City of Burlington and drained eventually into Lake Ontario. Dundas Street built to connect York (Toronto) to London in the late 1790’s was located far north from Lake Ontario to avoid ‘swamps and marshes which extended across much of the area between the escarpment and the lake' (3). We have lost much of the intact watershed due to the expansion of the City of Burlington and highways but we should do our part to protect the watershed that remains, having been drastically reduced over two centuries. The City of Burlington benefits more from preserving what is left of this area than from removing its heart by permitting another two quarries. With less absorption upstream, more runoff and flooding to residents downstream will occur, especially during the increased frequency of extreme precipitation events of the past 20 years.

 

     Water is more precious for life than rock. The benefits of two new quarries are small in comparison to the cumulative effects and major irreparable harm caused by the extraction of more than 100 more acres of green space, bedrock and groundwater. We can’t prevent mass extinction, all groundwater depletion and pollution, or turn back the clock on green house gas emissions on a global scale but we can make a positive contribution to lessen these impacts locally. Obviously, as a caring former resident of the area and my mother, as a life-long steward of her land, our job is never finished and we remain opposed to this second attempt to further mine the aquifer that served our ancestors for over 100 years. The decision you make now will impact the City of Burlington residents for generations to come. Thank you for your time and consideration of our concerns.

 

Yours sincerely,

Wendy Diaz
 

1. Brass Tacks, Volume 1, No. 1 Winter, 1978 Burlington Central High School, Burlington, Ont. 2. The Canadian County Atlas Digital Project, McGill University (Illustrated Historical Atlas of Halton County, Walker and Miles publishers, Toronto, 1877). 3. John Lawrence Reynolds written for a publication of the Burlington Committee for the Ontario Bi-Centennial in 1984

This letter is published with the permission of the writer.

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