Monster Mine Plan Cuts Deep into Ontario Farmland.

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Tommy_Paine
Monster Mine Plan Cuts Deep into Ontario Farmland.

http://rabble.ca/news/2011/06/monster-mine-plan-cuts-deep-ontario-farmland

"In addition to front man Michael Daniher, the Highland Group has also hired a high-powered team of lobbyists who work under the banner of Counsel Public Affairs.

Founding members Caroline Pinto, Charles Harnick and Philip Dewan are well connected to both the provincial Progressive Conservatives and the ruling Liberal party under Dalton McGuinty. Pinto was with Harnick as policy adviser while be was the Attorney General and Minister Responsible for Native Affairs."

Elections Ontario also tells us that Counsel Public Affairs is not an insignificant financial contributor the the Ontario Liberals.

There are a lot of issues surrounding this proposed quarry in Melancthon Township.   But I'm often surprised at how this system of connected "Lobbyists" work in our political doesn't garner more outrage. 

It's what I refer to as "Family Compact" politics.  Or "Tammany Hall North".

This is what you are up against as an ordinary citizen whenever someone with money feels like pissing in your cornflakes. 

Banning political contributions from Lobbyists is long over due in Ontario.

 

MegB

Thanks for the push ... this is SO wrong, I can't not write about it!!

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Great article, Rebecca! What a disaster.

Lard Tunderin Jeezus Lard Tunderin Jeezus's picture

A disaster in the making for sure. Who the hell thinks that ripping an entire aquifer out of the earth is an acceptable idea?

Life, the unive...

These are the same practices as the industrial wind companies.  I wish people would wake up to what else is going on in rural Ontario under this government as well.  Great article and an important issue.

N.R.KISSED

I hope we can stop this

Roscoe

Here's a link to an in depth article:

 

 

http://www.inthehills.ca/back/melancthon/

 

 

These locals need some ( a lot) of help to stop these well-organised and funded carpetbaggers. Its really surprising that the landowners who fell under Highland's spell didn't ask themselves why anyone would offer them a 30% premium above land values in order to undertake an enterprise that they themselves were losing money at.

Why would a premium be offered for an asset in a depressed market other than for a different land use?

 

A slick willie shows up on your porch with a suitcase full of money and you believe him?

 

The next order of business is the less than stellar reclamation plan. How do the carpet-baggers intend to keep the water inflow from flooding their supposedly reclaimed potato patch? A much more likely scenario is a planned failure of the potato patch reclamation and the 'forced necessity' of selling cottage lots at exorbitant waterfront prices around the new man-made lake.

 

The whole gravel pit/lake/subdivision scam has been around longer than Peter Ponzi.

Lard Tunderin Jeezus Lard Tunderin Jeezus's picture

Life, the universe, everything wrote:

These are the same practices as the industrial wind companies.

Sorry, I'm not seeing the connection.

Todrick of Chat...

I have began to writing letters to the Dufferin, Grey and Wellington area politicians to have this quarry stopped. I believe we can get this quarry shut down in time if we all worked together, it is just too large and will have too much of a negative effect on the environment.

MegB

Roscoe wrote:

Here's a link to an in depth article:

 

 

http://www.inthehills.ca/back/melancthon/

 

 

These locals need some ( a lot) of help to stop these well-organised and funded carpetbaggers. Its really surprising that the landowners who fell under Highland's spell didn't ask themselves why anyone would offer them a 30% premium above land values in order to undertake an enterprise that they themselves were losing money at.

Why would a premium be offered for an asset in a depressed market other than for a different land use?

I can't blame the farmers who sold.  People up there work damned hard in an economy that has seen farming costs skyrocket and agricultural product prices plummet.

Quote:

 

The next order of business is the less than stellar reclamation plan. How do the carpet-baggers intend to keep the water inflow from flooding their supposedly reclaimed potato patch? A much more likely scenario is a planned failure of the potato patch reclamation and the 'forced necessity' of selling cottage lots at exorbitant waterfront prices around the new man-made lake.

You're absolutely correct.  There is no way to replace the natural aquifer with technology, and flooding will be an issue.  It's a very wet area as is - friends of mine who own a small working farm there have the Grand River flowing through their property, and maintenance of the drainage tiles is expensive ... their back 40 is a swamp of mud and grasses in early spring and autmn, and most of the county roads are built over wetlands at some point or other - and there is just no way to simulate the complex ebb and flow of water through the natural limestone aquifer.

 

Tommy_Paine

One of the questions that keep croping up is the Highland interest in an old rail bed.  

The project is being sold in one aspect on the number of jobs, perhaps up to 300 or so in trucking alone.  But a rail line direct to the quarry would end those jobs once completed.   Highland of course calls this speculation.  But, think about it. Replace 300 truckers with a dozen or so rail workers.  It makes so much economic sense for Highland that it would be astounding if they didn't plan to use rail.

Which effects one of Highland's selling points from the outset.

 

And, forty or fifty or thirty years from now, when all the Amabel limestone is gone, what we are left with is a big hole in the ground, just a short trip from the GTA, serviced by rail.   A GTA that is always hungry for landfill.

Now, you might rightly say that it's currently illegal or an affront to common sense to use an old quarry for landfill.  But Lobbyists lobby to change such things.   And, they often get their way over what geologists say or local residents say.  

Such a landfill would leak leachate into the aquifer?   I'm sure, in thirty or forty years time they can find an "expert" who has a "proven" (which in lobbyist speak means experimental) technology to seal landfills so that won't happen.

And if it does, so what?  By the time the plume of leachate gets into wells, into the Grand River, into the Nottawasaga river, those experts will be dead, or beyond responsibility for their miscalculation.

Yes, it seems alarmist to say that the end use of this quarry will be a dump for Toronto.  But look at the Beare road dump in Scarborough-- it was an old gravel quarry that "experts" said wouldn't leak because of the clay. 

It leaked.

 

 

Roscoe

I'm not blaming the farmers either. Even if they had twigged to the quarry plan, they did not have the financial capacity to hold out. More and more farmland is squandered because the farmer with an emotional tie to the industry is not allowed to compete on a level playing field. rather than being viewed as an essential part of society's fabric, the smaller farmer is viewed as prey by financial concerns and large suppliers alike.

I'm just guessing, based on little geotechnical evidence but unless the limestone can be punctured into a porous substrate below, this proposed quarry will remain a lake as soon as the pumping stops. Installing a liner is only effective for keeping fluids in, not keeping static water pressure from refilling the abandoned quarry AND, cost effective only in an area that has impervious liner fill such as clay readily available.

Squandering Class 1 farmland close to a metropolitan area in exchange for an economic advantage in the concrete industry in a province that is mostly Canadian Shield igneous rock makes absolutely no sense.

Let industry use rail to bring rock in from non-farmland areas.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

Would anything change under a different government?

Tommy_Paine

There's a lot of unanswered questions regarding all the geology. 

I note a story from a few weeks ago about a new penstock tunnel made at Niagara Falls went half a billion over budget because they ran into unexpectedly hard rock.   Just goes to show that while we think we know everything there is to know about the geology of the escarpment, it still holds surprises.

Anyone west of the escarpment in Ontario is in the "Michigan Basin", and contains rock from the Ordovician, Silurian, Devonian and Mississippian eras, overlying Canadian Shield rock, way underneath.  East of the escarpement, and south of the shield,  you are on Orodvician which sits on Canadian shield rock, for the most part.  If you want to imagine how the Michigan Basin started out, it's akin in position and make up to Indonesia today.  It was on the equator, and it was, in turns, a large bay or inland sea, as it got cut off from time to time. Add to that some mountain building which flooded this area with mud, and you get various types of limestone.  Some of it contains coral (I am forever picking up bioclasts here in London, the most easily identifiable organism being sea lilies) and some just clams from the muddy periods, which killed the coral but made life joyus for bi-valves.

When the gulf or bay got land locked, the sea water would evaporate, making the sea high in magnesium.  This disolved some of the limestone, making it "vuggy".  Some people are partial to this kind of limestone as garden ornaments. It's the light brown to greyish white stone full of holes, reminiscent of swiss cheese or natural sponges.  

These holes or vugs can sometimes fill up with oil, or natural gas, and accumulate in pinacle reefs-- which we find in the Petrolia area, but also in Rodney, Chatham, and in Lake Erie.  Other chemical reactions take place.  Some might be higher in iron, for example, which is bad news for any ground water recharge system.  Iron feeds some bacteria, and these bacterial mats clog the recharge system.  I am not sure if the Amabel limestone is high in iron, or not.  It's a question for geologists.

There is a cement plant in the Woodstock area, and driving near it you are impressed by all the dust.  There is going to be a lot of blasting with this mega quarry.  Although they claim that the dust will be controlled, it is difficult to understand how it won't infiltrate whatever ground water recharge system they plan to use.

Tommy_Paine

Boom Boom wrote:

Would anything change under a different government?

There will be a different government.  And so far, Hudak is quiet on the subject.  The lobbyist, as the article points out, is well suited to lobby both Conservative and Liberal governments.

All three parties have had a chance to address the underlying inequities that make opposing such projects difficult.  All three could have put the aggregates mining under the same environmental assessement requirements that even a temporary bridge over a creek have to go through. 

All three parties could also have addressed the negative effects "lobbying" has on things like the environment, or democracy, but have declined to do anything.

Roscoe

Its difficult to cajole politicians out of their usually meager stock of political  capital until the pols can decide whither the wind blows. From my perspective as an experienced rock contractor and a property developer, the opponents of this proposal need to build a case based on peer-reviewable geoscience that can not be refuted. Unfortunately, that costs money and there is no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow for the antis.

Start raising funds for geotechnical work that, at least, sheds light on the more imaginative development scenarios. Start pestering the provincial apparatchiks involved in the approval process. These types do NOT appreciate the effect of sunlight on their decision making process and ANY controversy will keep a decision at bay until a governmental patsy is found to take one for the team.

Tommy_Paine

"Start pestering the provincial apparatchiks involved in the approval process. These types do NOT appreciate the effect of sunlight on their decision making process and ANY controversy will keep a decision at bay until a governmental patsy is found to take one for the team."

Thanks for the tip. 

I do believe there is a geological report due out this summer some time.  I will have to go back over my notes-- it's something I wanted to get back to, and I think a lot does hinge on this, as well as reports on the efficacy of ground water recharge systems, etc. 

janfromthebruce

thanks Tommy for the geo lesson - I sure did like it! Kiss

Tommy_Paine

Update.

http://www.orangeville.com/website/orangeville/article/1049254--highland...

 

"Robert MacDermid, an associate professor of political science at York University, has spent years studying corporate contributions at both the municipal and provincial level. In his opinion, $35,000 is a “significant” amount of money changing hands between The Highland Companies and the Liberal party in the last four years."

Family Compact politics, or Tammany Hall North-- take your pick.

"As Broadhead explained, contributing to political parties is The Highland Companies’ way to support the democratic process “in a very transparent manner.” "

 

Which is why they did their best to hide the contributions under numbered companies.  I hate being pissed on and being told it's raining.

 

Northern Shoveler Northern Shoveler's picture

Sarah Harmer says it all in Escarpment Blues.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=52vXPZAkDug

pogge

Orangeville Banner: County weary of quarry's impact on roads

I'm pretty sure that should be "wary" and not "weary" and I can't say as I blame them. 150 trucks per hour entering and leaving. 7,200 trucks a day.

 

Life, the unive...

Lard Tunderin Jeezus wrote:

Life, the universe, everything wrote:

These are the same practices as the industrial wind companies.

Sorry, I'm not seeing the connection.

Exact same practices to suck in landowners.  Carbon copy.   Do everything in secrecy, with gag clauses just to find out what the offer is, target influential people and make claims about their involvement, whether they are actually involved or not, throw around some money to get cash-strapped municipalities and landowners on your side.   Use itinerent sales people to sign people up and then move them on so all the promises made at the kitchen table also disappear.  Claim the project will only be small scale, when in reality phase 2, 3, 4 and so on are already drwan up and ready to go.  Also destroying rural landscapes for urban needs and greed.   The underlying issues are very, very similar.  For anyone familar with what is happening on the ground in rural communities for both issues, the comminalities are very clear.

The difference is the quarry issues puts to the lie the Liberal claim in the industrial wind issue to care about the environment.

pogge

Barrie Examiner (editorial): Taters over craters: Quarry a bad use of land

 

Todrick of Chat...

Quarry on Ont. farmland was the plan, firm says

The American-financed company behind a controversial proposal to mine Ontario limestone says it planned, from the onset, to turn prime farmland into a quarry.

Those bastards.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

McGuinty has a minority. Will that impact on any decision regarding this obscene environmental-catastrophe-in-the-making?

Northern Shoveler Northern Shoveler's picture

Todrick of Chatsworth wrote:

Quarry on Ont. farmland was the plan, firm says

The American-financed company behind a controversial proposal to mine Ontario limestone says it planned, from the onset, to turn prime farmland into a quarry.

Those bastards.

Its a NAFTA scam.  If they get to destroy the farmland and aquifer they get rich.  If they don't get to they sue under NAFTA and get rich that way. John Lowndes is the person who assembled the lands for this quarry.

Quote:

n 2008, an American company was denied its application to expand its basalt quartz quarry near Digby, N.S. It is suing the federal government for breaching the rules of the North American Free Trade Agreement, claiming more than $100 million in damages.

And this year, St. Mary’s Cement — owned by the American arm of a Brazilian conglomerate called Group Votorantim — filed its notice of intent to sue the federal government for damages of "not less than US $275M in compensation for the loss, harm, injury, loss of reputation and damage caused by or resulting from Canada’s breach of its obligations under Part A of Chapter 11 of the NAFTA." The company had wanted to build a quarry near Hamilton, Ont. The lands for that quarry had been assembled by Lowndes Holding Corporation, operated by David and Robert Lowndes, the brother and father of John Lowndes.