Members of the Concerned Citizens of Brant are irked by a decision by County of Brant council concerning a hydrogeological study examining a proposed gravel pit north of Paris.
Members of the group have questioned the choice of Stantec Consulting Ltd. – a firm often hired by the municipality – to conduct research on potential impacts on groundwater resources from the operation, proposed by Dufferin Aggregates on both sides of Watts Pond Road near Paris.
“It is in all of our best interests to get independent advice on something as significant as our water,” said Ron Norris, spokesperson for the Concerned Citizens of Brant. “We want to know what the risks are.”
In a recent letter to the county, the group said it wanted the county to pay for the study, but have it carried out by a firm or qualified individual of the group’s choice.
Instead, County of Brant councillors this week voted in favour of a staff recommendation stating “that the Concerned Citizens of Brant’s request that the county pay for a hydrogeological study commissioned by (the group) be denied and that the county continue to engage Stantec to work on the county’s behalf.”
County of Brant Coun. John Wheat said he has faith in Stantec’s ability to complete the study.
“Stantec is a highly regarded consulting firm that has done a ton of work for the county,” Wheat said.
“It is unfortunate the Concerned Citizens of Brant feel this way, but the individuals working for Stantec are putting their own reputations on the line when they do the research.”
Mayor Ron Eddy said staff and councillors have no concerns about the independence of Stantec.
“Stantec knows about our well fields and they have an advantage because of that,” Eddy said. “This council has confidence in Stantec and that they will point out anything that needs to be pointed out.”
Dufferin Aggregates has plans to begin gravel extraction at the 650-acre site north of Paris. The company was granted a licence to extract gravel from the site in 1974.
Ontario Minister of Natural Resources Michael Gravelle in a recent letter to the county said that – although the license to extract was granted in 1974 – the company “must abide by all current legislation,” including the Aggregate Resources Act and Environmental Protection Act.
Dufferin Aggregates says it has already done the work that would result from a re-opening of the licence and that the pit would be operated by today’s standards.