A Note From Sarah Harmer

I regret to have to address the magnificent Mount Nemo in the context of current water and biodiversity conservation, but just seven years after government opposed and denied Nelson Aggregate’s quarry proposal on Mount Nemo, the company is trying again. Nelson Aggregate has just informed the public that they are going to once again attempt to get permission to scalp huge sections of our UNESCO World Biosphere mountain top. I probably don't have to tell you that Mount Nemo is full of complex and rich ecosystems. Significant wetlands, grasslands, prime agriculture and forests abound, many with legal protections. Not to mention the Eastern White Cedars here that are some of the oldest trees east of the Rocky Mountains. Mount Nemo is a massive dolostone outlier full of vibrant life that is the source water area for thousands. It is home to the Provincially Significant Grindstone Creek Wetlands and Species at Risk habitat of the Jefferson Salamander, among many other rare species.


Nelson Aggregate wants to expand indefinitely and continue to gut the core out of this precious fountainhead.

'Nemo' is Latin for ‘nobody’. This place belongs to all of us, not just to a company that chooses rich headwaters (recognized by the United Nations no less!) to pulverize into uniform crushed stone. As the late Toni Morrison said, “We’ve got to keep asserting the complexity and originality of life.”

This one corporate neighbour has industrialized Mount Nemo since the 1950’s and is going to try again to license previously denied land and new areas, putting large swaths of biodiversity, air quality, and well water at grave risk.

Here is a link to the Joint Agency Review Team (JART) Report on Nelson Aggregate’s original quarry proposal from 2009. The JART team was made up of experts from all levels off government (City of Burlington, Region of Halton, Niagara Escarpment Commission, Conservation Halton, Ministry of Natural Resources) who, after years of study, determined that the proposal was unsupportable. The Executive Summary is a good place to start to see why our government agencies opposed this bad idea. Blast below water table in a prime headwater area? For crushed stone? Millions of public dollars were spent in a 15-month long hearing to uphold good planning, laws and policy. The quarry application was denied by the provincial Joint Board in 2012.


While their new announcement is currently short on details, Nelson Aggregate say they want to re-apply to license some of the same lands that were already denied in 2012. They want to move closer to Significant Woodlands and Significant Wetlands that are vulnerable to being drained from below. Citizens and our government representatives must understand the recent past, nip this bad idea in the bud, and make sure we continue to support good planning, and the land and water that ultimately support us all.

Sara Harmer

August 16, 2019

(reprinted with permission from a Facebook post for: Protecting Escarpment Rural Land - PERL)

CORE Burlington: June 1, 2020

A Bad Idea Then: A Bad Idea Now.

In 2004 Nelson Aggregate applied to blast a new quarry on the escarpment in Burlington. This application was opposed by the City of Burlington, Halton Region, the Niagara Escarpment Commission and the Halton Conservation Authority. After an eight year process, involving millions of taxpayer's dollars spent fighting this application, Nelson's new quarry was denied, on October 11, 2012 by the Ontario Office of Consolidated Hearings. 

Eight years pass...and Nelson Aggregate is trying again. This time, they've applied for two new quarries, totaling 124 acres of blast area (in addition to the 500 acres-plus Nelson has already quarried). One of these sites is in nearly exactly the same place as the site denied in 2012. The other, is at Burlington Springs Golf Club off Cedar Springs Road.

CORE is posting some of the public comments that were officially submitted to the Joint Agency Review Team in 2009. In the report there are 74! pages of comments (in small print, no less) from worried, angry members of the public, who all shared a passion for protecting these exceptional green-lands on Burlington's escarpment.

Over the next months we'll be posting public comments excerpted from the JART Report. Nothing has changed as far as the sensitivity and ecological importance of the lands that make up Burlington's UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve go...and nothing has changed regarding how the public feels about  additional quarries here.


Perhaps you'll agree with the folks back in 2012 and with us now: NO MORE NEW QUARRIES on Burlington's escarpment lands. This new application from Nelson Aggregate must be denied, as it was eight years ago.

What was a bad idea then, is still a bad idea.

Public Comments Opposing a New Nelson Aggregate Quarry on Burlington's Escarpment: 2009, JART Report

"The Niagara Escarpment is a World Biosphere Reserve. Aggregate extraction is one of the most environmentally destructive activities undertaken by humankind. It constitutes almost complete removal of the local ecosystem. In 1990, UNESCO recognized Ontario's escarpment as a World Biosphere Reserve. I object to continued offense of the spirit of this globally recognized designation. It is imperative that we protect Mount Nemo from continued aggregate mining and find more environmentally responsible places and practices to secure sources of aggregate material."




"Beyond the land in question, is the precedent that would be set [if the quarry was approved]. Escarpment rural lands, prime agricultural soils and buffer zones, are under threat.

When the original Nelson quarry was created in the 1950's, things were different. The Niagara Escarpment had not yet been recognized as a United Nations World Biosphere; understanding of global warming and the inherent value of natural ecosystems was not common knowledge. Today, the natural capital of the area is recognized. Today the science and our collective experience dictates that we maintain what is remaining for our health, the health of other animals and the particularly vulnerable species such as the Butternut tree and the Jefferson Salamander that share this densely populated area.

Please, actively contribute to the health of Burlingtonians and the wildlife within the city's northern borders. Do not grant approval to have this land destroyed."

"As a Burlington resident, my family and I enjoy walks along the Bruce Trail all year round. Any development that threatens the beauty of the Escarpment, like the proposed expansion of the Nelson Aggregate Quarry, concerns me deeply. The escarpment plays a vital role as a habitat for plant and animal life including threatened species like butternut trees and the Jefferson Salamander. In addition, the proposed development threatens to disrupt the headwaters of two tributaries of the Grindstone Creek. As humans, we bear an enormous responsibility. While we look for ways to improve our lives through development, we must respect all that nature provides us and we must use its resources responsibly. Please use your position to preserve what we have and to avoid future regret that is sure to accompany any destruction of the Escarpment."

JART Report, The Nelson Aggregate Co., Burlington Quarry. 2009 p 64

JART Report, The Nelson Aggregate Co., Burlington Quarry. 2009 p 21

JART Report, The Nelson Aggregate Co., Burlington Quarry. 2009 p 23

Once It's Gone, It's Gone

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