7.06.2011

help stop u.s. company's mega-quarry from poisoning ontario's farms and water

Avaaz, the Council of Canadians, and other concerned groups are alerting Canadians to a threat to Ontario's farmland and fresh water supply. Please read, sign the petition and circulate it in any way you can.

From Avaaz:
An American hedge fund is about to break ground on a massive mining project that could poison a million people's drinking water and the headwaters for five major rivers, would create an open pit deeper than Niagara Falls and decimate thousands of acres of lush farmland -- and we have 4 days to stop them.

For years, Highland Companies deceived residents, posing as a potato farming company and quietly buying up thousands of acres of land from local farmers. Then, it was suddenly revealed that the massive plot of farmland would be converted into a limestone quarry -- a 2300 acre pit so deep it would seriously interfere with the ground water system in the region. But, in order to start digging, Highland must win approval from Minister of Natural Resources Linda Jeffrey.

Jeffrey is taking 4 more days to consider public opinion on this quarry before making her decision. We can deliver an overwhelming wave of opposition to Highland's destructive plan. Sign the petition, forward it to everyone and it will be submitted to Jeffrey before the consultation period ends.

Petition: Stop the Quarry

Highland's mega-quarry is smack dab in the middle of farmland the whole country depends on for food production. If built, it could poison clean ground water that feeds the lakes and rivers many Canadians use for drinking water. The quarry would require over seven thousand trucks to transport limestone each and every day, upping carbon emissions and requiring new roads to handle the exploding traffic -- further destroying the natural habitat of hundreds of species of animals. The city-sized pit would scar the land long after the mining was finished.

But, residents and environmental activists are working hard to oppose the quarry's license -- even the Environment Minister has called for further assessments. Ontario's Liberal government faces a tough re-election fight in October and Liberal Minister Linda Jeffrey is concerned about public opinion in these key months before votes are cast. A national call will put pressure on Jeffrey and her party to stand up for Canada's environment, its farmers and the fresh water many Canadians depend on for survival.

Let's bring the voice of all Canadians to Ontario's Minister of Natural Resources and force her to kill Highland's plan for environmental destruction. Sign the petition and then forward widely.

Petition: Stop the Quarry

Ontario's government should not be allowed to destroy the rivers, forests and farm land we all depend on for survival. For too long, provincial governments have kept key environmental decisions out of the national conversation -- we have a chance to change that. As one country, with a commitment to the environment and the health and safety of all Canadians, we can speak up.
And from the Council of Canadians:
Back in April, we asked you to write the provincial government to demand an extension of the comment period on the proposed mega-quarry in Melancthon Township. More than 1,800 fellow Council of Canadians members did just that, helping to convince the government to push back the deadline under the Environmental Bill of Rights. Thank you!

Now your voice is needed once again. We have just five days left to let them know what we think of the plan to dig a mega-quarry and in the process destroy thousands of acres of prime Ontario farmland and damage the headwaters of five major river systems.

The mega-quarry has been proposed in Melancthon Township on Highway 124 just north of Shelburne. The Highland Companies (owned by a Boston hedge fund) has filed an application for a 2,400-acre aggregate mine, which would make it the largest quarry in Ontario and the second largest in North America. This precious land is the “rooftop of Ontario” running along the border of the Niagara Escarpment. For many months, the Council of Canadians has been working with local groups to stop this open pit mine because of the extraordinary impacts it will have on neighbouring communities, watersheds, Ontario’s food supply and the drinking water of more than one million people.

Join the fight to protect this precious land and water! ACT NOW to have your voice heard – THE DEADLINE is midnight on Sunday July 10th.

FOOD and WATER vs. PROFIT

The Highlands company started buying farmland in Melancthon several years ago, claiming they wanted to become the province’s largest potato growing operation, which made sense to local farmers as the area is well known for its particularly high quality soil and micro-climate. About one quarter of all the potatoes eaten in the Greater Toronto Area come from there. After many local farmers had sold their farms – some of which had been in the family for generations – the real motives of the company became apparent. Under that rich and rare soil is a fortune in high quality limestone worth upwards of eight billion dollars. The company now owns around 8,000 acres of land and has applied for permission to mine 2,400 acres which would make it the second largest quarry in North America. There is little doubt that they intend to excavate the entire 8,000+ acres. To do so, Highland will strip off all that precious soil then blast their way down more than 200 feet BELOW the water table.

From the area around the proposed mine site spring the headwaters of river systems that are important drinking water sources for more than one million people downstream. The Nottawasaga River, the Grand River and the Pine River systems will all be threatened by the mine’s 600 million litre per day dewatering pumps. Massive amounts of toxic demolition explosives will be used to smash the limestone and hundreds of dump trucks per hour will enter and leave the site – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The company rightly points out that this is all allowable under Ontario’s aggregate extraction laws but the problem is that those laws couldn’t be more favourable to the industry or more rigged against communities that want to protect their water.

PLEASE GET INVOLVED

Support our allies: We have been working with the North Dufferin Agricultural & Community Taskforce (NDACT) and the Citizen’s Alliance for a Sustainable Environment (CAUSE) and we ask you to consider supporting them as well. Please visit their websites.

Click here before midnight on Sunday, July 10 to make your comment on the Environmental Bill of Rights Registry.

Every comment counts! You can write as much or as little as you like, but please voice your objection to the mega-quarry.
More information:

Council of Canadians report on the mega-quarry

Toronto Star: Limestone quarry threatens prime farm land

Toronto Star: Environment ministry blasts mega-quarry proposal

The call for open submissions to the Ministry of Natural Resources

Guelph Mercury: Chong calls for federal review of quarry proposal

Petition: Stop the Quarry

7 comments:

tim said...

Signed. This is absolutely disgusting. Corporate greed at its finest. Lying and manipulation, what a surprise.

I read the star article and I have to admit, this would make a good fictional book/movie. Unfortunately for us, its non-fiction. Let's just hope we have a happy ending all around.

I think the biggest scoff at my house was when I read the "We own a potato farm so we care about water just as much as you" part - HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Leave it to Mr. PR to be totally and unequivocally full of shit.

SLIME!!!!!

/end rant

laura k said...

Thanks, Tim, that's great. Yes, it is super disgusting. I updated the post with info from the Council of Canadians, possibly while you were commenting. There's a way to submit comments directly to the Ministry as well.

Northern Girl said...

This is disgusting.

Petition signed by all of us. What else can be done to stop this?

Alison said...

The public face of Highland Companies is Michael Daniher of the PR firm Special Situations Inc.

"Daniher’s business partner is Paul Curley, a former advisor to Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and other Progressive Conservative party leaders. He shares an office with two other agencies, Counsel Public Relations and Counsel Public Affairs. The latter’s president, Philip Dewan, previously the most senior political advisor to Premier Dalton McGuinty, is one of two lobbyists registered to work at Queen’s Park on behalf of The Highland Companies on issues of “agriculture, economic development and trade, energy, environment, transportation and natural resources.”

NDACT, a local group opposed to the quarry, lobbied to have the agricultural land protected as "specialty cropland".

"When the specialty crop designation somewhat curiously failed to win the support of the Ontario Potato Board, NDACT members noted that Bruce Wilson, Highland’s vice-president of farm operations, is one of the board’s directors."

~ High Stakes in the High County

Stephanie said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you Laura!

Word is out and I think the uproar is coming...thank you for this most informative post.

laura k said...

@Northern Girl, two more things you can do: leave a comment at the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources site (link is in this post), and circulate the petition to everyone you know, especially in Ontario. Thank you!

@Alison, thanks for the info. Everyone: Alison has a great post about this, including videos that everyone should see.

@Stephanie, thank YOU. This post is getting a lot of traffic, so the word is really getting around.

Alison said...

Avaaz petition coming up on 99,000 signatures. We could probably get it up over 100,000 by the deadline tomorrow if we all post it on message boards we may have missed.