Numerous residents in the Rural Municipality of Rockwood and the Town of Stonewall, Man., are voicing their opposition to the proposed expansion of a limestone quarry on the outskirts of town.
Rockwood resident Pam Palcat lives just outside of Stonewall, and says the expansion would bring the quarry to within a stone’s throw away.
“Currently we have about a mile between us and the closest quarry, and once they move it will be closer to a quarter of a mile,” Palcat told Global News.
“So we’ve already had lots of issues, in our opinion, caused by the quarries. If we’re feeling the impact at a mile away, then once they move closer, then the impact we’re currently feeling is what the Town of Stonewall residents will feel.”
Palcat says she believes the blasting from the quarries has already done damage to their home’s foundation and windows.
“That’s a major blast, when they happen. It’s got major, major impact,” she said.
She says she and her husband put an addition on their home last October; but had they known about the possibility of the quarry expanding, they wouldn’t have.
“It’s a four-season sunroom and three of the walls are glass. Well, had we known (about the expansion) we never would have invested that kind of money into a room,” Palcat said. “When the blasting happens, as it is, everything shakes in our house. So what’s going to happen to these walls then?”
She also says a local historical group is working to restore kilns in the town, and she worries the blasting will have an impact on those, as well as her own well and septic system. Truck traffic, home values, and the health impacts of limestone dust in the air are also concerns.
“The crushing plant is about two miles down the road from where we live, and coming from Balmoral towards Stonewall one day, they had just blasted and it looked like a massive rain shower was happening, and it was actually a plume of dust coming out of the quarries,” she said.
Palcat is among several residents voicing concerns and writing letters of opposition against the Maple Leaf Construction project. It had already been rejected by the RM of Rockwood but Maple Leaf is appealing.
“My wife and I both have lung issues, breathing and air quality is very important to us,” Rockwood resident Larry Neufeld said.
Neufeld says he worries about what the expanded quarry will do to his home value, and if the project goes through, he’ll look at other options.
“It’s harder to sell when you have a quarry in your backyard,” he said.
“If we allow them to turn around and get a variance into that safety buffer in the town then there will be other claims, because now they’ve set a precedent, and it’s a dangerous precedent.”
Stonewall resident Del Phillips says he believes the quarry blasting has causes issues with his home, even within the townsite. He said while he understands the economic benefits the industry has for the town and the RM, it’s simply just getting to close for comfort.
“I’ve accepted it for 35 years, until now,” Phillips said. “And it’s been OK. I’ve lived with it, at my expense. But no, no more. I’m done. I’ll fight this.”
“We have an industry that we’d like to work with,” Neufeld said. “But there’s no need to infringe on the safety buffer around the town because that is sacred and I don’t think we should compromise the Town of Stonewall for their industry.”
The RM of Rockwood declined to comment, saying the issue is currently before a municipal board hearing, which is anticipated to wrap up in September.
Global News reached out to Maple Leaf Construction for comment but did not hear back before deadline.