The Aldershot quarry (now operated by Meridian) is preparing to excavate shale from the third, East Quarry. The site is east of King Road and west of Westhaven Drive, in the Tyandaga subdivision. The quarry lands are Provincially approved and licenced for extraction.
Understandably, the Meridian plans have created concerns in the community, especially pertaining to public health and safety.
Meridian manufactures an estimated 55% of the clay brick produced in Canada, and 45% is made here in Burlington. The quarry produces Queenston shale, and this is the only type of shale used for brick making in Ontario today. While the economic benefits cannot be overlooked, this must not be at the expense of negatively impacting the community.
Looking back on how Burlington has evolved, clearly if we were beginning to plan our City, a quarry within the urban area would not be the appropriate location. However, the Aldershot Quarry has a long history in Burlington. It has been in operation since the 1920’s and was first licenced under the Pits and Quarries Control Act in 1972 and then subsequently under the Aggregates Resource Act in June 1990.
It is the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry that oversees the rules governing aggregate management in Ontario by issuing licences, permits and changes to existing approvals. The Ministry also inspects aggregate operations and responds to complaints, enforces compliance and ensures rehabilitation is carried out on the site.
The site plans for the approved licence show three operational cells (quarries). The expansion into the east cell is within the approved licence area. The east quarry is 16.4 hectares in size, and approximately 10.8 hectares will be disturbed.
I have consistently stated that, as Mayor, I expect the quarry to operate with no health impact to any resident in Burlington. I will remain actively involved to ensure regulatory compliance of the quarry and that information requested by residents is provided.
I continue to speak regularly with MPP Eleanor McMahon about the quarry, and we remain committed to working together to ensure information is made available to residents.
In late January, a meeting was arranged by MPP McMahon, Councillor Craven and myself for a group of residents to come together with Meridian representatives, Provincial staff from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change and Conservation Halton.
As a result of the meeting, there is now streamlined access to information from the Province, and the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change initiated a peer review of the Meridian dust studies. Additionally, a scoped review of the noise studies was also undertaken. I understand this work is now complete and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry are in the process of analyzing the results. The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry will determine the next steps and conduct any necessary follow-up with Meridian.
In addition to concerns about adverse impacts from noise and dust, other issues have been raised such as tree removal and endangered species just to name a few.
Minimizing the human impact on the environment is very important to me. However, tree removal on the Meridian site is an unfortunate reality. Meridian confirmed last week that their ecologist marked 7 trees for removal in March. The plans to remove trees from the forested East Quarry will occur in 6 stages over 25 years.
While Meridian Brick is required to operate in compliance with its approved Aggregate Resources Act site plan, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry confirm that Meridian has no requirement to complete any additional studies under the Aggregate Resources Act to remove trees nor do they require any tree cutting permits for this licenced aggregate site. The Act requires rehabilitation of a quarry during its operational lifetime, and Meridian’s plan for the centre and East Quarry includes the re-planting of more than 29,000 trees.
Meridian has elected to undertake surveys to assess whether species at risk exist on site. The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry has informed the City that Meridian will continue surveys for Jefferson Salamanders during this Spring season because of dry conditions in 2017. The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry will be conducting a scoped review pertaining to endangered species during the Spring with results expected in Fall of 2018. Should Meridian find species at risk are likely to be impacted by their operations, Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry will comment with regard to compliance requirements under the Endangered Species Act.
The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry staff have re-confirmed there is no verified presence of the Jefferson salamander on or directly adjacent to the Meridian quarry. They further advise that findings should be formally reported to the MNRF for appropriate action. I support the protection of all confirmed endangered species in our City.
There has also been a suggestion that a new use should be found for this site. That option is unlikely. It is the property owner who would have to make a decision to change the land use. Meridian’s East Quarry has approximately 25 years of supply available and it is expected that the shale will continue to be used for brick manufacturing for that time. Also, the planning framework affecting these lands is complex and protects for a quarry operation by allowing Mineral Resource Extraction. The quarry is permitted in all Provincial, Regional and City planning documents.
I have also been asked if the City would request that Meridian adopt Cornerstone Standards Certification (CSC). Cornerstone is a voluntary certification system for the responsible extraction of aggregates and it encourages a quarry to operate in a socially and environmentally responsible manner. I believe this is an excellent suggestion and I wholeheartedly support this certification by Meridian.
Quarry regulatory and licencing questions should be directed to Mr. Mark Tyler, Senior Policy Advisor, Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. Mr. Tyler can be reached at (416) 314-2208 (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Burlington residents have my assurance that I will continue to insist that our Community receive the information needed to confirm the satisfactory operation of the Meridian Quarry.