Wilmot residents receive letters from the applicant of a controversial Shingletown gravel pit

·2 min read

SHINGLETOWN — Some Wilmot residents are receiving letters about the proposed Hallman gravel pit near Shingletown.

Residents who submitted letters of objection to Jackson Harvest Farms about its rezoning application on Witmer Road are receiving individual responses from IBI Group, the planning firm hired by Jackson Harvest Farms.

Jackson Harvest Farms seeks to rezone the land located at 1894-1922 Witmer Road near Shingletown from agricultural into aggregate land.

The letters address the individual concerns raised by each resident.

Samantha Lernout, president of Citizens for Safe Groundwater, an activist group, shared her letter from IBI Group with The Record.

She raised multiple issues, including increased truck traffic, road maintenance, wetland and groundwater protection, and increased dust and noise, among others.

She is particularly worried about protecting groundwater, especially from any possible below water table extraction.

In response, IBI Group’s letter outlined that the Provincial Policy Statement was amended in May 2020 to say that aggregate operations are permitted to expand their extraction without any need for Official Plan amendment, rezoning or development permit under the Planning Act, and only the Aggregate Resources Act will apply to issues about depth of extraction or new or existing mineral aggregate operations.

The letter continued, “Notwithstanding the above, Jackson Harvest Farms Ltd. has no intention to consider below water table extraction, however, any possible future request would necessitate the applicant to complete the necessary and applicable studies as stipulated in the Regional Official Plan and Township Official Plan.”

No action is required of the residents at this time.

“At first review, we thought this response letter was the 20-day notice letter that requires action within 20 days to remain an objector. Thank goodness it was not,” the citizen group said in an email. “We do not completely understand the intention of this letter.”

In February of this year, the Region of Waterloo sent a response to Rick Esbaugh, president of Tri-City Materials in Petersburg and owner of Jackson Harvest Farms, outlining many issues with the hydrological assessment included in the proposal. The region did not support the application.

“Jackson Harvest Farms Ltd. has received numerous comments from the public and others regarding their proposed Hallman Pit, all of which have been valuable to augment our application,” Esbaugh said an earlier email to The Record. “We will continue to work through the regulated planning processes.”

Esbaugh originally submitted his application for a zone change in November 2019.

Leah Gerber’s reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. The funding allows her to report on stories about the Grand River Watershed. Email lgerber@therecord.com

Leah Gerber, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Waterloo Region Record