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Residents gather for blasting quarry information night and fundraiser, collecting $50,000 in pledges

August 31, 2023   ·   0 Comments


Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Caledon residents gathered at a local brewery on Tuesday for an update on the fight against a proposed blasting quarry in town.

On August 29, the Reform Gravel Mining Coalition (RGMC) and Forks of the Credit Preservation Group (FOTCPG) hosted an information night at GoodLot Farmstead Brewery in Alton.

David Sylvester, President of the FOTCPG, began the evening with an update on the group’s progress in fighting against the quarry. 

Brazilian conglomerate Votorantim Cimentos, through its affiliate CBM Aggregates, is looking to build an 800-acre below-water table blasting quarry south of Alton to extract limestone bedrock. Critics of the proposed quarry say it will cause irreparable harm to Caledon’s ecosystem.

Sylvester said the FOTCPG was able to get a meeting with Dufferin-Caledon MPP Sylvia Jones, which garnered a reaction from the crowd — one resident yelled out, “Where’d you find her?”

Sylvester said Jones was attentive and the two parties had a frank exchange of ideas, and he’s looking to see what will come of the meeting. 

The FOTCPG is also seeking a meeting with Canada’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Steven Guilbeault. The group hopes Guilbeault will start a Federal Environmental Assessment for the proposed quarry, which would effectively sideline it.

Sylvester said he was pleased to report Guilbeault responded to the FOTCPG and invited them to meet with his Ontario representative, which they will be doing as soon as possible.

“That’s been very encouraging,” said Sylvester.

Sylvester said ever since an Interim Control Bylaw (ICBL) was implemented in Caledon last October, which bans the creation of any new pits or quarries for one year, the Town of Caledon has been rewriting its aggregate policies. 

A study commissioned by the FOTCPG found that Caledon had some of the weakest aggregate policies out of all of Ontario’s top aggregate-producing municipalities.

Sylvester is part of a community working group helping create the Town’s new aggregate policies, and said work — while daunting and a massive undertaking — is going well. 

“I’m optimistic that at the end of the process, we will have a set of aggregate policies that will act as an enormous step in improving the protection of our local citizens from the profound impact of aggregate development,” said Sylvester.

He noted that Caledon will need to renew its ICBL for another year come October, so there is enough time to complete the new policies. Sylvester said it’s critical for residents to pressure Caledon Council to renew the ICBL.

Mike Balkwill of the RGMC spoke after Sylvester, and said the reason Caledon was able to get an ICBL in place is thanks to the community who fundraised to get planners and lawyers on their side. He said having an ICBL for aggregate sets a new precedent in the Province of Ontario.

Balkwill said the longer Votorantim Cimentos’ proposed quarry gets delayed, the closer it gets to a provincial election. He said if people apply enough pressure and make it a campaign issue, politicians will want to make cancelling the quarry part of their platform.

“Your support is critical, your standing up to defend your community is vital,” said Balkwill.

The FOTCPG’s lawyer, David Donnelly, was next to speak. Using the analogy of a hockey game, he said Caledon residents have won the first period against the proposed quarry. However, he said what comes next in the second and third periods is critical.

Donnelly reiterated Sylvester’s point on how important it is for Caledon Council to renew the ICBL for another year.

“I know it seems like a sure thing, but you need to keep pressure on them… if they don’t renew the bylaw then it’s over,” said Donnelly.

The second year will give much-needed time for writing stronger aggregate policies and finishing complex studies, said Donnelly. 

Donnelly went on to suggest some policies he said Caledon residents should pressure their municipal leaders into implementing in Caledon’s new Official Plan. He said he could go on for a long time with suggestions, but gave three big ones in the area of natural heritage protection.

“Your official plan should say this… no more below-water table extraction, to protect the Brook Trout in the Credit River,” said Donnelly. “I say this with all due respect, but only an idiot would oppose that policy.”

Donnelly also said Caledon’s Official Plan should preserve all forests of one hectare or more, outright, citing the climate crisis and the crucial role trees play in carbon sequestration. For his third Official Plan suggestion, Donelly said no more wildlife corridors in Caledon should be allowed to be destroyed.

Donnelly said residents should pressure the Province into doing an inquiry into the aggregate industry. He said the aggregate industry currently extracts far more than is needed to meet demand each year.

“I know we’re going to stop this quarry,” said Donnelly. “But these next two years are going to be critical, so let’s all get behind this.”

After the speakers were finished, Balkwill led a pledge drive and residents donated to help efforts to stop the quarry. By the end of the night, $50,000 had been raised, and more pledges were handed in as people left. 



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