NPFAQ updates supporters on fight against proposed quarry

·7 min read

On Aug. 25 at 10 a.m., No Place for a Quarry held an information session to update their members and interested parties on their ongoing efforts to prevent a proposed quarry by Freymond Lumber and Fowler Construction on Bay Lake Road in Faraday Township. NPFAQ unveiled their expert witnesses in the areas of ecology and the environment, noise, wellness tourism and land use planning, they also revealed that there will be a final CMC on Sept. 1 at 10 a.m., the Ontario Land Tribunal (formerly LPAT) hearing on Sept. 20 will be held virtually and will likely go for less than the originally scheduled 36 days due to some successful mediation between the opposing parties.

NPFAQ had an information update session held by Zoom on Aug. 25 at 10 a.m. On the call were NPFAQ's Catherine van der Oye, Madeleine Marentette (Grail Springs Spa and Resort), Eric Gillespie, Yasmeen Peer and articling student Kristian Ferreira (legal counsel for NPFAQ) James Cunningham (a concerned resident in the area of the proposed quarry who commissioned his own hydrogeological study from Hydrogeology Consulting Services) and approximately 20 plus other interested parties.

NPFAQ is appealing to the OLT under an official plan amendment No. OPA 18 under section 17(36) of the Planning Act by Hastings County that allowed Freymond Lumber to proceed with the quarry under the Ontario Planning Act. They are also appealing the Class A aggregate licence granted to Freymond Lumber for the removal of aggregate under section 11(5) of the Aggregate Resources Act.

According to van der Oye, the key purpose of the meeting on Aug. 25 was to give everyone an update on the efforts that have been made by NPFAQ and their legal team to organizing for the upcoming hearing on Sept. 20 and organizing their expert witnesses to testify at the hearing to prevent the proposed Freymond Lumber/Fowler Construction quarry on Bay Lake Road in Faraday Township.

Gillespie told the call that he and his firm had been working with NPFAQ since late 2018, and mentioned it was great to see the number of people on the call to get an update on where they were at presently in the process.

The big thing coming up was the NPFAQ appeal to the OLT regarding the proposed Freymond/Fowler quarry on Sept. 20 at 10 a.m. He said the hearing was currently scheduled for 36 days.

“I think it’s fair to say that most people are expecting that number of days can be reduced a bit because we had some success doing some mediation and resolving at least some of the issues and narrowing some of the other issues,” he says.

Gillespie said that the order of the evidence presented would be the quarry (Freymond Lumber, Fowler Construction), Hastings County, NPFAQ and then there would be the opportunity for reply if anything unexpected has come up.

As previously mentioned, NPFAQ is arguing against the quarry under the Planning Act, while there were also 30 objectors under the Aggregate Resources Act who have filed letters of objection.

“At the moment, there’s still a bit of a question about how to integrate the Planning Act part of the case and the ARA part of the case, so we’ve asked for and been granted by the OLT a CMC on Sept. 1 at 10 a.m.,” he says.

The Zoom information will be made available for this CMC and for the Sept. 20 hearing on the NPFAQ Facebook page or by contacting info@noplaceforaquarry.com.

Gillespie then proceeded to reveal the names of the expert witnesses that NPFAQ had retained to argue their case against the quarry. The first was Karl Konze, B.Sc, a senior wildlife ecologist from Dougan and Associates, who will be offering evidence on the effects of the proposed quarry on the environment. Gillespie said that Konze and his colleagues were very reputable consultants that have decades of experience dealing with pit and quarry type projects.

Dalila Giutsi P.Eng. from Jade Acoustics, a national noise consulting firm, will be giving evidence about potential noise issues from the proposed quarry at the hearing.

Chris Helmer, B.Sc, P.Geo, from HCS, hired by Cunningham, will be providing hydrogeological concerns about the proposed quarry at the hearing.

Andrew Gibson, a global wellness tourism consultant who will be testifying about wellness tourism, specifically as it relates to Grail Springs Spa and Resort, a health and wellness retreat, spa and resort on Bay Lake Road.

Dr. Richard Carmona, the 17th Surgeon General of the U.S.A., who is involved in many projects in the development of wellness and is a distinguished professor of public health at the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health in Arizona, will be offering testimony on the health and wellness benefits of retreats like Grail Springs.

Madeline Marentette, the CEO and founder of the award-winning Grail Springs Spa and Resort, will be offering testimony about her resort’s contributions to wellness tourism and the local economy.

Stefan Szczerbak, MCIP, RPP, a land use planner from Planscape Inc. will be offering expert testimony that the proposed quarry is not good planning. Gillespie said that Planscape was familiar with all aspects of land use planning in cottage country areas like Muskoka and North Hastings. Szczerbak’s testimony will be concluding the expert testimony by NPFAQ, according to Gillespie.

All expert witness statements, their acknowledgements of experts’ duty and their CVs can be found at the NPFAQ website at www.noplaceforaquarry.com/witness-statements.

NPFAQ also provided a budget update; where they’ve spent money thus far in their fight against the proposed quarry, where they are at now financially and what they require going forward. Further details can be found at their website.

There was a question-and-answer session at the end of the call, where attendees asked questions about the NPFAQ case for Gillespie and Peer to answer. While the OLT mediation sessions between NPFAQ and Freymond Lumber are confidential, Gillespie did say that on the Sept. 1 CMC call there would be an update that will be provided to the tribunal and that the parties will be able to share information with the tribunal at that point.

“Therefore, a greater picture will emerge at that CMC. We had almost two full days of mediation and discussions beyond that. We’re grateful to Freymond Lumber and to the County for the work everyone put into that process. Hopefully, we can talk a bit more about it on Sept. 1,” he says.

According to van der Oye, there had already been some positive results achieved between NPFAQ and Freymond Lumber; there would be no blasting below the water table in the proposed quarry and while there had been an asphalt plant in the plans earlier on, that had now been scrapped. Gillespie agreed that there had been positive developments that had happened thus far.

In response to a query about getting regular updates going forward, Gillespie said they were close to the hearing at this point, so not a lot will change from Aug. 25 until Sept. 20. He said that all the witness statements and the reply witness statements have been filed with the OLT and just a little bit more evidence that people are putting together.

“The CMC and the hearing are open to the public and people are welcome to come and listen in. So really, I think the communication is going to take place through the OLT process because that’s where we’re headed next. There’s not going to be much between now and then,” he says.

In response to a query about whether the hearing would be held virtually or in-person at the Faraday community centre, due to the ongoing concerns surrounding COVID-19, Peer responded that it would be held virtually by Zoom.

Gillespie told those on the call that as legal counsel, his firm has been doing pit and quarry hearings for about 25 years, and that they are comfortable saying that there’s a solid strong case for NPFAQ to present starting on Sept. 20.

“That’s why we’re going to a hearing because there is a significant list of very credible experts in the areas of ecology and noise and focusing on the activities of Grail Springs and overall looking at the requirements of the provincial policy statement, the official plan, the Planning Act and that all the experts are very clearly concluding that this is not a good idea to proceed with this particular proposal [the Freymond/Fowler quarry].”

Michael Riley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Bancroft Times

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