The Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) is looking into a blast Dec. 2 in Algonquin Highlands that reportedly damaged some homes and had some residents thinking there’d been an earthquake.

Residents experienced a large rumbling about 2 p.m.

MECP spokesman, Chris Johnston, said Dec. 4 there was a blast at the Francis Thomas Contracting (FTC) quarry on Highway 35 in the township. He said it wasn’t FTC that blasted but subcontractors, Fowler Construction and Austin Powder. Ltd.

He said the blast exceeded the ministry’s applicable noise limits.

“The blasting company reported the incident to the ministry,” Johnston said.

“Members of the public also contacted the ministry reporting property damage. The ministry is working to ensure the quarry owner and its contractors take appropriate action to address the public’s concerns and to ensure similar incidents do not occur in the future.”  

Johnston said the ministry is working to determine the cause of the blasting noise limit exceedance and address public concerns. He said it is too early to determine the results of the ministry’s review and assessment of the incident.

“We are requiring that the company conduct inspections of the reported damage to determine what steps are necessary to restore the property. The ministry will monitor the progress of these inspections and ensure that the parties involved take appropriate action.”

Algonquin Highlands Mayor Carol Moffatt posted to her Facebook page shortly after the blast.

She said she made some quick calls and was advised the blast occurred in the aggregate pit on North Shore Road.

“Although notifying the broader community is not required under the Act, Francis Thomas Contracting has historically notified the township and we, in turn, put out public notice. It doesn’t appear there was any notification today [Nov. 2],” she said.

She said after speaking with Francis Thomas Contracting and Fowler Construction, “we will be seeking better and more appropriate notification going forward.”

Resident Cheryl Richman wrote on the mayor’s Facebook page, “I have someone coming to check on my home as I am concerned about structural damage due to the violent shaking caused the shockwaves from the blast. There should be limits on the strength of dynamite being used near residences.”

Elaine Smith added, “we are directly across from North Shore Road, on Beech Lake. We thought the earth had moved.”

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