update on ontario mega-quarry: environmental review to go forward, battle continues

The Council of Canadians has an update on the mega-quarry that the Highland Companies (owned by a US hedge fund) tried to sneak into Ontario's Melancthon Township.

You'll recall that this company posed as a potato farming operation in order to quietly buy thousands of acres of land from local farmers. After purchasing a huge plot of farmland, they suddenly revealed their intention to convert the land into a massive limestone quarry, deep enough to threaten the region's ground water system in the region.

In response to public outcry, Ontario Minister of the Environment John Wilkinson has announced that the proposed mega-quarry will be subject to an environmental assessment. This doesn't mean the battle is over, but it's a crucial step.

From the Council of Canadians:
The proposed mega-quarry would border the Niagara Escarpment, a UNESCO Biosphere reserve, be deeper than Niagara Falls and destroy more than 2,316 acres of prized Honeywood Silt Loam, a rare type of soil that is particularly suited to potato cultivation. It would also require the removal of some 600 million litres of water per day in perpetuity to prevent massive flooding as the headwaters of five rivers are found in the vicinity.

You’ll recall, for months the Council has been actively campaigning for both a provincial and federal environmental assessment of the project to expose its evident hazards. And when we reached out to you and tens of thousands of fellow Council members in Ontario for your voice and support, you responded in droves. Thank you!

Without a doubt, the tireless efforts of local groups, farmers and First Nations – bolstered by tremendous public opposition – was a key factor in the province’s decision.

Our work here isn’t over though. Winning an environmental assessment does not mean that the quarry will be turned down, nor does it mean that the government has quashed the company's application, as we have demanded.

We must build on this momentum. Ontarians go to the polls on October 6th and we have an opportunity to make the proposed mega-quarry a key election issue. As Maude Barlow highlights, “The fact that such a massive and destructive project is normally exempt from an EA shows that the regulations are far too favourable towards big business. Whoever wins the election must reform the Aggregate Resources Act.”

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