Environmentalists and Residents Challenge Minister of Natural Resources to Stop Next Escarpment Mega-Quarry
Toronto, ON – Environmental Defence and local residents are calling on the Minister of Natural Resources to stop another mega-quarry application which is set to DAMAGE the highest point on the Niagara Escarpment.  The proposed MAQ Aggregates site is directly across from the proposed 42 million tonne Walker Aggregates quarry, located near the Hamlet of Duntroon, Ontario.
An Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) hearing is scheduled to commence May 30, 2011 to review the MAQ application, at the same time the Walker Aggregates hearing is proceeding.
“The Ontario Municipal Board is forcing this community to deal with two hearings at once.  This just isn’t right,” stated Dr. Rick Smith, executive director of Environmental Defence.
“All the same issues are at play here.  It’s the same ecosystem as the Walker site, same hydro geology, wildlife corridor and haul route.  It’s appalling to force this community into a second hearing without having the benefit of the Walker hearing and its issues decided first,” Smith added.
Issues in both hearings are as follows: loss of Significant Woodland, potentially significant Bobolink habitat (a threatened species, endangered butternut trees, blasting adjacent to the sensitive Provincially Significant Rob Roy Wetland complex, inadequate protection for over 2,000 plants of the globally rare American Hart’s Tongue Fern.
Lawyers for Grey Matters, the citizens’ group opposing the MAQ application are appealing for a delay in the hearing so that the OMB can render a decision in the Walker matter first.  The group’s concern is that the Walker hearing could potentially reduce the number of issues to be heard at the MAQ hearing, including the critical matter of the anticipated cumulative impacts from the two adjacent sites.
MAQ is proposing a 46 million tonnes, to operate for over 40 years.  The existing adjacent Walker Aggregates quarry opened in 1965, so together, these quarries could potentially expose the area to nearly 100 years of blasting and heavy truck traffic.   The Niagara Escarpment Commission (NEC) and Grey Sauble Conservation Authority also oppose the MAQ application.
“The highest point of the Niagara escarpment deserves to be treated with the utmost care.  Rushing to a hearing before all the facts are in, feels to us like the companies’ interests are more important than the community and the environment,” said Harvey Jones, President of Grey Matters, the citizens’ group opposing the MAQ application.
“Simple fairness dictates that this community have a little time to prepare for this second arduous process,” said David Donnelly, counsel to both Grey Matters and the Clearview Community Coalition fighting the Walker’s application.
The Walker’s Aggregate Joint Board hearing commenced May 3, 2010 and has been sitting for over one year.
About Environmental Defence (www.environmentaldefence.ca):  Environmental Defence is Canada’s most effective environmental action organization.  We challenge, and inspire change in government, business and people to ensure a greener, healthier and prosperous life for all.
 
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For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:
Stephanie Kohls, Environmental Defence, 416-323-9521 ext. 232; 647-280-9521 (cell)
Harvey Jones, Grey Matters, 705-445-2983