Citizens Against Melrose Quarry must feel a bit like Groundhog
Day all over again. They won, sort of, but are now back at the
beginning again. The quarry owner may feel the same way.
The citizens' group is a not-for-profit
group incorporated in 2013 and consisting mainly of local
residents, farmers and others opposed to new or expanded
aggregate operations at or beside Long's Quarry in
Tyendinaga Township, in the County of Hastings, Ontario. The group
believes that increased water extraction by the quarry will
adversely affect their water supply.
In 2012, C.H. Demill Holdings Inc. (the "Permit
Holder"), obtained a two year Permit to Take Water (PTTW)
for its quarry under s. 34 of the Ontario Water
Resources Act. In 2013, it applied to renew that PTTW for 10
years, as part of its expansion plans. The Permit Holder
claims that it does not extract groundwater, only snow melt
and precipitation that falls in the quarry.
In June, 2014, the Director, Ministry of the Environment and
Climate Change, gave them a one year PTTW No. 7742-9E9TGN (the
"PTTW") to the "Permit Holder"), expiring in
June 2015. The citizens' group
immediately sought leave to appeal. They were successful, in that
they got leave to appeal on October 27, 2014. The
Tribunal agreed that
the Director's Decision to issue the 2014 PTTW could
result in significant harm to the environment. The
following factors are sufficient to conclude that it appears that
the Director's Decision to issue the 2014 PTTW could result in
significant harm to the environment: this is an HVA with existing
sensitive uses (as confirmed by the Director in her submissions);
Blessington Creek, the receiving water, has been identified as a
potentially sensitive surface water feature; the continuing
uncertainty regarding the hydrogeology of the area; and the debate
among the hydrogeological experts regarding the adequacy of the
monitoring and contingency plans in the 2014 PTTW. The additional
factor of the troubled compliance history of the Instrument Holder,
including in relation to conditions of the most recent 2012 PTTW,
adds to the risk of future environmental harm in case of
non-compliance with the 2014 PTTW.
The citizens were also successful in limiting the amount of
water the quarry could extract during the appeal. But the appeal
process itself took almost the full year that the permit would
last. The Environmental
Review Tribunal amended the permit on June 26, 2015, just
before it expired. The amendments significantly reduced the amount
of water that the quarry could extract, especially in low water
years; required better monitoring and contingency planning;
required the quarry to do more to conserve water, etc.
Meanwhile, the Permit Holder has (naturally) applied for a new
ten year PTTW, which the
MOECC proposes to grant. To oppose the new PTTW, the
citizens' group must now go through the entire exhausting and
expensive process again, starting by again applying for leave to
appeal. It is not yet clear whether the MOECC will put into the new
PTTW the changes that the Tribunal made to the 2014 PTTW.
Is this really the best way to protect and allocate
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