Dorset pit fight continues
|By Alex Coop - Staff Writer | August 10, 2017
Residents of Harvey Lake have submitted a lengthy list of objections to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) regarding a proposed quarry and aggregate pit near Dorset.
This comes a week after Eric Doetsch, co-owner of Bacher Construction Limited, explained at a public meeting
in Dorset, his plans to downsize his proposal to accommodate residents’ feedback.
Initially, the proposed expansion allowed for up to 285,000 tonnes of material to be extracted annually. That has since been reduced nearly 75 per cent to 75,000 tonnes.
Doetsch currently extracts 6-8,000 tonnes from the pit. But among the nearly 20 concerns, Harvey Lake residents are citing a faulty noise study, safety concerns from fly rock and inadequate mitigation measures to protect Blanding’s turtles, according to a press release.
For David Donnelly of Donnelly Law, who has submitted the objections on behalf of Harvey Lake residents, this will be his firm’s first time taking on a case that involves an aggregate pit proposal on Crown land.
“Of all the cases I’ve ever done involving aggregate operation proposals, they’ve been for private land,” Donnelly told The Highlander. “There’s a new phenomenon of pits and quarries being proposed in cottage country.
And they’re very troubling because they tend to be quite close to lakes that should be protected.” The lack of cultural heritage assessments and consultations with surrounding First Nations groups is also troubling, Donnelly added. Donnelly Law was founded in 2008 to service leading environmental non-profit and charitable organizations, citizen groups and First Nations, according to its website.
Only one First Nations group responded to Bacher Construction’s requests for comment on the proposal, said Doetsch.
“They didn’t have an issue with it,” he said. The public backlash against the project is not surprising, and is an anticipated step in the process, said Jeff Schosser, aggregate inspector for the MNRF. According to the MNRF, the proposal has been tentatively classified as Category B, meaning there’s potential for low to medium negative effects and concern.
Additional requirements could come from other pieces of legislation such as the Planning Act, Ontario Water Resources Act, Environmental Protection Act and the Endangered Species Act.
“We’ll take all those letters of concerns and objections and take them to make a final determination as to what class EA category will be assigned to it,” he said.
In the Parry Sound district of the MNRF, there are only two aggregate pit proposals on Crown land, including the one near Dorset. Doetsch, who previously told The Highlander he’s spent more than $40,000 on studies to date, said he wants to work with residents to address their concerns.
“We’ve heard your concerns, we understand them and we want to address them as a community with dialogue,” Doetsch told residents at the Dorset Recreation Centre July 29. April McCrum, a biologist from FRi Ecological Services, submitted an environmental report in November 2016.
It concluded a permit could be issued if the report’s mitigation measures were implemented. A noise impact analysis echoed it, saying “sound exposure levels from the worst case daily operations of the proposed McClintock Quarry/Pit are predicted to be in compliance with the MOE noise guideline limits.”
ALEX COOP is a reporter for The Highlander.