John Phelan moved from Oakville to the County of Brant a year ago so he could live in a rural setting.
“I love it here,” Phelan said.
But, he says the enjoyment of his peaceful property may soon be in jeopardy if a proposed gravel pit moves forward near his Burford-area home.
Phelan was among about 60 people that attended a public meeting at the Burford Community Centre on Monday night in relation to a proposal for a 500-acre gravel pit by CBM Aggregates, a division of Toronto-based corporation St. Marys Cement Canada Inc.
The company has submitted an application to the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources for a 500-acre operation to be located northeast of Burford.
“I want a balance struck between what needs to be done in terms of growth and development versus a rural environment,” Phelan said.
The proposed operation – called the Olszowka Pit – would straddle both sides of Bishopsgate Road between Golf Links Road and Concession Road 5.
The company expects to annually extract one million tonnes of gravel from the site for at least 10 years.
Melanie Horton, director of land and resources with CBM Aggregates, said although the proposal is “controversial,” the company is willing to work with residents regarding its planned pit.
“The proposal is not written in stone,” Horton said. “Many things about an application can change. The site plan is the guarantee that if the site was sold, any new company would have to abide by the same rules.”
Horton said residents should not worry about the operation affecting their private wells.
“We don’t anticipate any of the wells would be affected by the operation,” Horton said.
“There is a process in which the company is responsible to supply water immediately and fix the problem if there is a problem with a well.”
Glenn Harrington, a landscape architect working on the project said the site will be progressively rehabilitated into both wetlands and farmland as the operation continues.
“It can go back to being as productive as it was,” Harrington said. “We will build wetlands around the three ponds to create a healthy ecosystem.”
CBM Aggregates plans to extract gravel below the water table in three separate ponds, which make up only 27 per cent of the 500-acre pit, Horton said.
Residents listened to a presentation made by Horton and consultants, then had the opportunity to express their concerns.
Potential negative effects on private wells, increased truck traffic on three different roads, lower property values, a loss of farmland and increased noise were some of the concerns relayed to company officials and their consultants.
County of Brant Mayor Ron Eddy said it is clear that residents are worried about the operation.
“Residents are really concerned,” Eddy said.
“Water is their biggest concern – the quality, quantity and possibility of contamination.”
Eddy said building an interchange at Highway 403 and Bishopsgate Road to help offset heavy truck traffic would be “a distinct advantage” for the aggregate industry.
“I would propose (aggregate companies) get together and help us pay for that,” Eddy said.
Visit www.cbmcommunityinfo.com for more information about the planned operation.
Comments can be submitted until Feb. 22 in writing to St. Marys Cement Inc. 55 Industrial St. Toronto, Ont. M4G 3W9.