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Resolution for neighbours of soon-to-be aggregate pit

To the editor, supporters:
I am sure you will recall the great job the press had done in making you aware of the sustained campaign trying to stop an asparagus farm from being converted to an aggregate pit.

This campaign started, for me, on Nov. 22nd, 2017 when the owners of Green Ridge Farms held a public information session at Isaiah Tubbs to announce their plans. This brought about a long, costly attempt to convince the applicant, County council, and our provincial government that such an enterprise could hurt the area watershed and water supply.

The debate seems to have ended Oct. 6, 2021.
Our first step was to present our cause to County council and ask that they not approve the applicants request to change the current zoning from Agricultural to Aggregate Extractive. We presented a wide number of reasons and signatures of those against, however, the key reason was that robust testing needed to done over a wide time frame to accurately determine the level of the water table. Please also note that it is seasonal and rises and falls throughout the year.

The applicant maintained the level was at 81.5 meters above sea level (MASL) and he had dug test pits to prove this. We disagreed and suggested that the water level should be set at the highest level measured for the area, the 86 MASL found in the applicants own data. The applicant submitted to council a summary of 22 water well records from within 500 meters of the site and 13 out of the 22 were higher than the 81.5 MASL the applicant had submitted. Also note, their data came from digging test pits in the 2016 drought, in December. County council voted in September, 2019, unanimously approving the applicants request to change the property’s zoning.

Subsequent to the council’s vote we contacted the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) and submitted a notice of objector response. The proponent/consultant company was then required to provide documentation to MNRF. If unresolved or outstanding objections were found, the MNRF would act as per the 11(5) of Aggregate Resources Act and refer their findings to the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT) and this was the beginning of an appeal. Letters to the editor of our local newspapers were written outlining our decision and intent. A GOFUNDME page was created to help finance our endeavour, awareness was raised on articles published on Facebook.

We met with a number of local residents and spent two years collecting data, hiring consultants, an engineer, a lawyer, and more. The LPAT set a date of Oct. 5, 2021 to meet for seven days as case number MM200017 where we could present and discuss with the experts representing the applicant who had applied for a Category 7, Class B licence for the Removal of aggregate at 1002 Ridge Road in the County of Prince Edward, or the asparagus farm.

Just prior to this date, the applicant offered to install four monitoring wells across the site to record water depth for a period not less than six months which need to include the spring of 2022. They offered to install approved turtle exclusion fencing to keep out Blanding’s turtles, a protected species in the area. An Adaptive Management Plan has also been created to ensure ground/water separation.

The tribunal began and ended on Oct. 6, 2021 where both parties agreed to a “Minutes of Settlement” including the offers shown above along with the requirements demanded by the Aggregate Resources Act.

The bottom of the pit is now set at 86 meters above sea level. Once the data from the monitoring wells has been assembled, two hydrogeologists will review information and determine where the water level actually is and this will be added to the licence. The Tribunal’s oral decision to direct the Minister Natural Resources to issue the license on a conditional basis subject to the amendments to the Site Plan is now a matter of public record.

We did not stop the pit from happening, however, the “Minutes”, much of the initial plan submitted by the applicant, and, the requirements and regulations set out by the Ontario Aggregate Resources Act, will be what will govern the applicants usage of the property.

The monitoring wells will protect the watershed as they will robustly measure the water table and this will determine if and when gravel can be extracted. These wells are permanent and a significant win for protecting our water.

I thank you for your support both financially through your donations and spiritually through your support.

John McKinnon
Ridge Road

Filed Under: Letters and OpinionNews from Everywhere Else

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  1. Emily says:

    Just heading west on the Ridge Rd you can see gravel pits full of water. Is that surface water runoff or ground water?

  2. Many thanks to you all for your kind words. Please remember this, your council voted to approve the change from agriculture to a aggregate extractive. They did it unanimously in open council.
    This morning, I have heard a well on Ridge Road had gone dry. Not really what I wanted to hear.
    Kind regards,
    jmac

  3. Gary says:

    Does the Ridge Rd really need another unsightly gravel pit full of water?

  4. Teena says:

    I appreciate all the work that has gone into trying to halt this project. I fail to see how changing farm land into an aggregate pit is beneficial to anyone but a select few though.

  5. Liz Driver says:

    The County is very lucky to have such responsible and concerned citizens as John McKinnon. Thank you for your sustained effort to protect the environment.

  6. JOHN MCKINNON says:

    Many thanks, Cheryl, it was.

  7. Cheryl Anderson says:

    A long hard fight. Congratulations to all of you for sticking with this.

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