Quarry not going anywhere right now: owner
|By Lisa Gervais - Editor | June 28, 2018
A Township of Algonquin Highlands decision - to make proponents of a new quarry and expanded sand pit near Dorset apply for Official Plan (OP) and Zoning Bylaw amendments – is being applauded by residents fighting the quarry.
However, Mayor Carol Moffatt said what the township does will have very little influence on the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) which will rule on the application that is on Crown Land. John Bacher Construction Ltd. has applied to the MNRF to develop a pit and quarry next to an existing aggregate pit in the Township of McClintock, about six kilometres northeast of Dorset, next to Harvey Lake.
It’s now two hectares but the plan is to expand to just under 22 ha and include a new quarry. Some Harvey Lake residents have been fighting it ever since learning about the application and formed a group called No McClintock Quarry. Back on July 20, 2017, council made seven requests if the MNRF approves the application. At council’s June 21 meeting, planner Sean O’Callaghan said the applicants’ agent had recently written, wanting clarification on the requirement under the OP and zoning
In a written report to council, he said, “while there is no disputing the approval of the proposed quarry expansion lies solely with the MNRF, it is staff’s opinion, the previous resolution stands to act in the best interests of the citizens of the Township of Algonquin Highlands, and as such it is my recommendation it not be amended.”
Mayor Carol Moffatt, in an interview after the meeting, said much the same.
“Yes, of course Algonquin Highlands was going to uphold its planners’ recommendation to stand firm in the requirement of compliance with its planning regulations. However, the fact remains that municipal planning regulations are not traditionally, or in terms of policy, a consideration on behalf of the ministry for activity on Crown Land.” She said because the process is applicant driven and townships get little notice of input, “we absolutely expect our provincial ministries to undertake the stewardship and uphold their end of the bargain as regards to all those pieces of legislation and various acts … with so little time we just threw at it whatever we could. They were the only tools we had.”
Following the meeting, the No McClintock Quarry group issued a press release saying they were very pleased with the continued vigilance of the mayor and councillors in upholding the OP.
“Without a doubt, the proposed McClintock Quarry, 400 metres from Harvey Lake, close to sensitive wetlands and habitats, with extremely noisy and dusty crushing all summer near children, is simply a poorly planned site for a new quarry,” they said. Aaron Court of Harvey Lake added, “we commend the township for their commitment to the Official Town Plan, specifically section 5.5.8, which requires new quarries to be at least 1,000 metres from waterfronts.” Eric Doetsch, co-owner of Bacher Construction Limited, told The Highlander “the township has no say over Crown Land.”
However, he added, “we’re having a hard time getting by the ministry with this. “[We’ve heard] nothing more in two to three months from the ministry. So, that’s where it stands. It’s very painful, very slow, I’ve spent a lot of money and it’s not going anywhere right now. So, we’re just being patient, waiting for the new government to settle in and then try it again.”
Doetsch has met with residents in hopes of allaying some of their concerns and dropped the tonnage he will take from the quarry to 75,000 annually, from an original 285,000. He’s been in the area close to 30 years and says he just wants to supply the area with building materials and stone and give his children and grandchildren a working future.
LISA GERVAIS is the editor for The Highlander.