Coalition for gravel mining reform to host local protest Saturday (2024)

Springwater Green Community Coalition members will be at MPP Doug Downey’s constituency office on Alliance Boulevard from 10 a.m. to noon

The Reform Gravel Mining Coalition has what it thinks is a concrete plan to raise awareness of the aggregate issues facing residents of Ontario.

On Saturday, the organization is “mobilizing residents and policymakers to defend lives and the environment by Demanding A Moratorium Now (DAMN!) on all new aggregate approvals” as part of their provincial day of action to protect Ontario from gravel mining.

Locally, members of the Springwater Green Community Coalition (SGCC)will be at Barrie-Springwater-Oro-Medonte MPP Doug Downey’s constituency office in Barrie, located at14-20 Bell Farm Rd., from 10 a.m. untilnoon.

“The protest aims to highlight the Springwater Green Community Coalition's opposition to the expansion of Galibier Materials’ Lewis Pit in Springwater Township,” organizer Esther Allen said in a news release announcing Saturday's action. “Additionally, it seeks to support similar efforts across the province.”

Allen hopes the protest will encourage the municipal and provincial governments to support a moratorium on gravel mining applications in Ontario in light of the Auditor General’s Management of Aggregate Resources: 2023 Value-for-Money Audit report released six months ago that highlighted many shortcomings to approvals, management and non-conformances of gravel pits and quarries in Ontario.

“We hope the provincial government will demand an environmental assessment of the Lewis Pit and also use this as an opportunity to include stronger language and dust mitigation requirements within their proposed licensed expansion,” Allen said.

According to Allen, a resident of Boothby Crescent whose property backs onto the proposed gravel pit site, the Springwater Green Community Coalition’s goal is to engage the community, as well as Springwater Township council and staff, in protecting 21 hectares (52 acres) of agricultural land at Seadonand George Johnson roads.

In 2022, Galibier Materials, owners of the land, sought approvals for an expansion of the Lewis Pit to the adjacent property at 2857 George Johnston Rd., proposed as a Class A - Above Water Table pit under the Aggregate Resource Act (ARA), with a maximum annual harvest limit of 750,000 tonnes.

According to the pit owners, the Lewis Pit has an expected lifespan of five to 10 years remaining and they are looking to secure approvals to continue operations on the adjacent parcel of land.

The proposed expansion land is approximately 21.1 hectares with a proposed extraction limit area of 17.5 hectares (43 acres). The land has approximately 280 metres of frontage along George Johnston Road and 970 metres of frontage along Seadon Road.

The land is currently designated and zoned for agricultural uses.

An Official Plan amendment (OPA) and zoning bylaw amendment (ZBA) are needed to consider expansion plans requested by Galibier Materials. Galibier also needs to receive approval under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF).

In December 2022, the township provided ARA comments to the MNRF seeking modifications to the proposed ARA operational plans to respect the township’s zoning bylaw regarding extractive setbacks.

Township staff noted the extraction limit along the eastern boundary of the subject land is proposed to be setback 30 metres from the property line abutting residential properties on Boothby Crescent.

However, the township’s extractive industrial zone states: “No sand or gravel excavation shall proceed closer than 120 metres to any residential, commercial, institutional or industrial or zone, nor closer than 15 metres to a property line, nor closer than 30 metres to a public road allowance, nor closer than 150 metres from any residential use except for a residential use as permitted in Section 28.2.1.”

Township staff requested the ARA operational plan be revised to comply with Section 28.3.6 of the extractive industrial zone and setback the limit of extraction to no closer than 120 metres to the adjacent residential zones and no closer than 150 metres to any residence located on Boothby Crescent.

On April 12, 2023, the township held the required public meeting to discuss the Lewis Pit expansion. Residents raised a number of issues, including impacts to quality of water in the area, increased noise, dust and air quality, impact on property values and impacts on the vegetation and wildlife of the Nine Mile Portage Heritage Trail.

As a result of the public meeting, township council passed a resolution that the application be referred back to staff and the applicant delay its pursuit of an Official Plan and zoning bylaw amendment until the province released its update to the Aggregate Supply and Demand Report, which was slated for the first quarter of 2024.

On Nov. 14, residents of Boothby Crescent received a "notice of case management conference" from the legal firm Devry Smith Frank.

“The planning applications were deemed complete by township staff on (Dec. 7, 2022) and were the subject of a statutory public meeting on (April 12, 2023). Galibier has hosted a drop-in information centre on the subject property since November 2022 to welcome members of the public and inform the public about the applications,” the letter stated.

“As township council has not yet made a decision on the applications, they were appealed by Galibier to the Ontario Land Tribunal on (Sept. 27, 2023).”

The case had its first OLT hearing on Dec. 15 via video conferencing.

According to Allen, the next hearing will be heldsometime in the fall of 2024.

Coalition for gravel mining reform to host local protest Saturday (2024)
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