A group of residents in Trent Lakes are calling it a “big win” after the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal rejected land rezoning for a proposed mega limestone quarry near Bobcaygeon.
“Six years and $300,000 later we finally won our decision,” said Adri Eastman, one of several appellants.
“We are in absolute disbelief. We were preparing for the next step where we would go with it if we didn’t win.”
Eastman and other residents fought against a proposal by Dewdney Mountain Farms Ltd. for a 432-acre limestone quarry on Ledge Road. More than 500 residents took part in several rallies and dozens appeared at council meetings when the company first presented its plan.
The former Galway-Cavendish-Harvey Township approved land rezoning for the project in 2012, but residents launched an appeal to the former Ontario Municipal Board. But when the OMB initially approved the most of the project, residents took the case to divisional court. A judge ruled residents did not give the company permission to build noise berms on private property and returned the issue to the OMB to resolve.
Among the residents’ long list of concerns were impacts on environmentally sensitive areas and noise pollution as dozens of trucks daily would be travelling the road off of Highway 36 through a residential area of 18 homes. The company had proposed widening the road and building sound berms.
In its lengthy decision released Wednesday, the Tribunal concluded it could not authorize the land zoning amendment because the company had failed to provide an effective noise mitigation plan.
The company had suggested lowering the speed limit on the haul route to 40 km/h from 50 km/h, as well as reducing its annual production limit to 900,000 tonnes from 1.2 million tonnes, the Tribunal noted.
“Having come to the conclusion that there is insufficient evidence at the present time to be assured that there will be efficacious noise mitigation to the affected sensitive receptors on Ledge Road and Quarry Road, and that policy compliance requires such assurance, the Tribunal cannot, in the public interest, authorize the use of the site quarry purposes,” stated Tribunal member Gerald Swinkin.
As well, the Tribunal said there was no evidence the municipality was willing or prepared to allow road reconstruction.
“The municipality is the owner of the road allowances and is under no compulsion to subject those road allowances to features that it may not wish to have located within them that are not otherwise prescribed by law,” Swikin stated.
“On this front then as well, it is a matter of speculation whether the Municipality will agree to these works.”
The Tribunal did note the company will be permitted to resubmit a new proposal.
But Eastman says their fight and victory sets a precedent in a region which has nearly three dozen quarries in the municipality.
“I think it will make quarry operators think twice. They need to do their planning ahead of time don’t wait until the end,” she said.