Opposition to an aggregate company’s plan to begin gravel extraction at a 650-acre site on Watts Pond Road continues to grow, says the spokesperson for the Concerned Citizens of Brant .
“This issue is snowballing,” Ron Norris said during a recent presentation to county councillors in Paris. “It is clear to us that the people of this county do not want this gravel pit.”
County of Brant Mayor Ron Eddy said he understands the concerns being raised.
“I am personally absolutely opposed to taking farmland and making lakes,” Eddy said. “Gravel is not so scarce in Ontario that we have to dig up farmland to get it.
“It is not sensible and it is not the way to go. We are concerned.”
After about 40 residents filled council chambers on June 21, councillors agreed to host a special public session to further discuss the planned gravel pit.
Norris said the number of residents opposed to the operation continues to grow, with nearly 2,000 signatures now on a petition against the pit.
Dufferin Aggregates spokesperson Andrea Bourrie said the company plans to move forward with gravel extraction. Dufferin Aggregates was granted a licence to extract gravel from the site in 1974.
“The 1974 license gives us the right to extract aggregate,” Bourrie said. “We can do this in a sustainable way. We will continue to inform the community of the work we’re doing.
“At the end of the day, we have an approval to take gravel from the site.”
Dufferin Aggregates has held multiple community advisory panel meetings to engage concerned residents.
Potential groundwater contamination remains among the most serious concerns among residents living in the area, Norris said.
Ontario Minister of Natural Resources Michael Gravelle in a 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.
But Norris had questions about a planned hydrogeological study to be conducted in relation to the gravel pit’s impact on municipal groundwater sources.
“We understand that you have requested that (Dufferin Aggregates) pay for this study and they have offered to pay for a preliminary meeting,” Norris told councillors. “We are very concerned about the perception that this will not be viewed by the public as independent.”