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Activist Communique: Ontario quarry will be deeper than Niagara Falls

A U.S. corporation is trying to construct a quarry of over 2,300 acres in Southern Ontario -- a hole deeper than Niagara Falls.

But to skirt government regulations, it claimed it wanted to grow potatoes.

Didn't know about this? Well, neither did most residents in Southern Ontario as the corporation involved -- Highland Companies (U.S. hedgefund Baupost operating in Canada as Highland Companies) -- has been buying up large amounts of agricultural land under the pretense of agricultural use (potatoes) only to turn around and declare it wishes to open the second largest open pit mine in North America (not potatoes).  

Now that the true intentions of Highland Companies has been revealed, it's time for defenders of Canada's land and waters to rise up and stop this huge, environmentally destructive project and stand up to deceptive corporations.

According to the Council of Canadians' assessment of the issue, "The Highlands company started buying farmland in Melancthon several years ago saying they wanted to become the province's largest potato growing operation -- which made sense to local farmers as the area is well known for its particularly high quality soil and micro-climate. After many local farmers had sold their farms -- some of which had been in the family for generations -- the real motives of the company became apparent. Under that rich and rare soil is a fortune in high quality limestone worth upwards of eight billion dollars."

"The Highlands company started buying farmland in Melancthon several years ago saying they wanted to become the province's largest potato growing operation -- which made sense to local farmers as the area is well known for its particularly high quality soil and micro-climate. After many local farmers had sold their farms -- some of which had been in the family for generations -- the real motives of the company became apparent. Under that rich and rare soil is a fortune in high quality limestone worth upwards of eight billion dollars. The Highlands Company started buying farmland in Melancthon (township) several years ago saying they wanted to become the province's largest potato growing operation -- which made sense to local farmers as the area is well known for its particularly high quality soil and micro-climate.

After many local farmers had sold their farms -- some of which had been in the family for generations - the real motives of the company became apparent. Under that rich and rare soil is a fortune in high quality limestone worth upwards of eight billion dollars."

The quarry itself when completed at 2,300 acres will create a man made hole in the earth deeper than Niagara Falls and would disrupt source water for more than 1,000,000 Canadians and require the dewatering of 600,000,000 litres per day."

The five-year history of deception was described by the impacted community as, "the company bought farms under the auspices of maintaining them for agricultural use, however, the company began clearing trees, demolishing homes and doing test drilling while attempting to get new land assessments.

As of last week they have filed an application with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources to obtain a license to excavate this prime agricultural land into the 2nd largest open mine pit in all of North America."

Highland Company has applied for an Aggregate Resources Act license, as well as an amendment to the Melancthon Official Plan, to establish what is seen as one of the world's largest limestone quarries.

Prompted by a town hall of concerned residents in early 2009, regarding the corporate behaviour of Highland Companies (land assessments and changes to land use), a petition has been circulating stating: "We oppose any change in land use that would permit a limestone quarry or other aggregate extraction industrial uses to occur within this prime agricultural resource area."  

Now, it is time for action.

A Kick off rally to stop the mega quarry will be held on Friday April 22, 2011 (Earth Day), 12 p.m. at Queen's Park.

Marchers have committed to walking for five days -- from Toronto to Melancthon Township.

Their arrival at Melancthon Township, Dufferin County April 26Melancthon Township, Dufferin County will be Tuesday April 26, 2011, 3 p.m.

For updates on the route, please see the bottom of this Communiqué.

The Council of Canadians has major concerns regarding water: "From the area around the proposed mine site spring the headwaters of river systems that are important drinking water sources for more than one million people downstream. The Nottawasaga River, the Grand River and the Pine River systems will all be threatened by the mine's 600 million litre per day dewatering pumps.

Massive amounts of toxic demolition explosives will be used to smash the limestone and hundreds of dump trucks per hour will enter and leave the site -- 24 hours a day, 360 days per year. The company rightly points out that this is all allowable under Ontario's aggregate extraction laws but the problem is that those laws couldn't be more favourable to the industry or more rigged against communities that want to protect their water."

Enough is enough. Let's take a stand and show that Canadians will not tolerate environmental devastation from resource extraction industries both abroad and on Turtle Island.

As one of the organizers, Danny Beaton of the Mohawk Turtle Clan said, "The things I learned from my elders told me I had a responsibility to honour Mother Earth and to protect Mother Earth."

The protest walk, which will travel through Brampton, Caledon, Orangeville and Shelburne on its way to Melancthon, is designed to increase public awareness of the proposal and convince government officials to put the kibosh on it.

**

How you can get involved:

Demand an extension to the ridiculously short 45 day period allowed for objecting to the quarry. Use the email form below to send an email to Premier McGuinty asking for a 120 day extension to allow all parties to study the 3000+  page Highlands Company application.

Support our allies: We have been working with the North Dufferin Agricultural & Community Taskforce (NDACT) and the Citizen's Alliance for a Sustainable Environment (CAUSE)  and we ask you to consider supporting them as well.  Please visit their websites:  www.ndact.com and www.citizensalliance.ca.

Write a letter of objection: Go to the NDACT website for instructions on how to write your letter of objection: www.ndact.com.

Letters must be received by both the MNR and Highlands by April 26, 2011.  Easter weekend is on April 22- 25  so please put your letter in the mail today or you can drop your letters off at the Township of Melancthon office (8:30 - 4:30) 157101 Highway # 10, Melancthon, ON in sealed envelopes addressed to BOTH Highlands and  the Ministry of Natural Resources. NDACT will arrange for pickup and delivery on or before April 26.

Join the Facebook group: STOP THE QUARRY www.Facebook.com/no.mega.quarry.

Participate in the Walk to Stop the Quarry- starting at Queens Park in Toronto on Friday April 22nd at noon and each day until  it arrives on April 26th in Melancthon  township.  Come for any part of any section or come and walk the whole way!  For more details:  www.facebook.com/#!/event.php?eid=217379224946300.

If you have any questions about writing a letter or joining the Walk to Stop the Quarry, please contact Mark Calzavara at mark@canadians.org or 1-800-208-7156.

**

UPDATES TO ROUTE:

Please join us at Queen's Park Earth Day, April 22nd at 12 p.m., to begin the walk or anywhere along the walk for whatever distance you can. Walk, ride, bike, etc. all are welcome.

A pot luck supper will be held at the farm where the walk is ending and ALL are welcome-bring a dish and enjoy Melancthon's hospitality.

Details:

Day 1
From Queen's Park west on Wellesley through UofT to St George, north on St George to Bloor St, West on Bloor St to Dundas, north-west on Dundas to Scarlett Rd, north-west on Scarlett Rd to Eglington Ave, west on Eglington Ave to Dixie Rd. End of Day 1, 23 Km

Day 2
West on Eglington Ave to Hurontario, north on Hurontario to Brampton City Hall at Wellington St 1-2 p.m. Continue north on Hurontario to Old School Rd. End of Day 2, 27 km (may be slight detour east on Sandlewood Rd, north on Kennedy Rd, west on Old School Rd to Hurontario)

Day 3
North on Hwy 10 (Hurontario) to Hwy 9 (Orangeville), west on Broadway to First Street (Orangeville City Hall) 3-4 p.m. End Day 3, 27 Km

Day 4
North on First St to Hwy 10, north on Hwy 10 to Hwy 89, West on Hwy 89 to Shelburne, 3-4 p.m. End Day 4, 25 Km

Day 5
North on Hwy 124 to Jim & Marians Black's potato farm, 1-2 p.m., 15 Km

 

 

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