Imagine digging a hole in your backyard deeper than Niagara Falls (and twice as wide). Heck... imagine having a backyard that big!
Now imagine a big hose that pumps 600 million litres of groundwater (the equivalent of around 2,000 large tanker trucks) out of the big hole each day and diverts it away from your property. Water that can be used to grow crops and feed local streams.
While the mind boggles at the opportunity for extreme recreation (imagine the waterslide!), it is obvious that an endeavor at this scale would have potentially devastating impacts on your neighbourhood.
Sign up for our newsletter
Unfortunately for folks living in Melancthon Township, a rural community an hour-and-a-half drive northwest of Toronto, a proposal for just such a project to be situated in their backyard (minus the waterslide) is winding its way through the provincial permitting process.
In what is being billed as one of the largest aggregate quarry applications in Ontario's history, a U.S.-based hedge fund company, the Highland Companies, has filed an application with Ontario's Ministry of Natural Resources for a limestone quarry near Melancthon. The proposed quarry would encompass 937 hectares (2,000 acres) and is estimated to contain 1 billion metric tonnes of Amabel dolostone to a depth of around 58 metres (200 feet!) below the water table. Of course, the company wants to dig it all up.
In reaction, local farmers, ranchers, and First Nations groups have begun organizing to show their opposition to the mega-quarry in their backyard. They held a protest at Queens Park in Toronto recently and then embarked on a 115-kilometre trek to a potato farm near the proposed mine site. The groups are concerned that the mine would imperil the region's water supply and destroy farmland. And so am I.
This was underscored when I read the truly remarkable environmental impact assessment prepared by the company's consultants. Remarkable in that it claims the proposed mining operation will have "no negative impacts" on things like water resources, and will ultimately improve the "diversity, connectivity and function" of the local environment.
In essence, the consultants contend that blasting a billion tonnes of rock from a pit deeper than Niagara Falls that guzzles 600 million litres of groundwater each day will improve the local environment. I beg to differ on that.
In response, I wrote this letter of objection to the Ministry of Natural Resources and the company, outlining a few of our concerns.
Clearly this sort of project must face much greater scrutiny and deserves the rigour of a full environmental assessment, as industrial projects of this scale should always be subject to.