Nelson Quarry application has insufficient provisions for endangered species, wetlands and woodlands protection
Toronto, ON – Environmentalists and community members are overjoyed by today’s decision of the Joint Board to protect Burlington’s Mount Nemo and Jefferson Salamander breeding ponds on the farm of the Harmer family. The decision denies Nelson Aggregate’s proposed 26 million tonne quarry on the 82 hectare site.
“The Board’s decision is balanced and in keeping with our belief that development on the Niagara Escarpment, a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve must be harmonious with the features and functions of the natural environment. The decision is PERL’s dream come true,” said Sarah Harmer, a founder of Protecting Escarpment Rural Land (PERL), and hearing witness.
The Board’s decision gives Mount Nemo and its rare and endangered species a chance to breathe after a century of quarrying. This decision also protects the unique ecological functions of the Escarpment that cannot be replaced by planting trees nearby, which was originally proposed by Nelson Aggregates to offset its negative environmental impact.
“This is a true victory for the Escarpment and all the public agencies that worked to protect Mount Nemo, a gem of the Greenbelt in southern Ontario,” said Dr. Rick Smith, executive director of Environmental Defence. “It shows that the Niagara Escarpment Plan, a cornerstone of Ontario’s earliest environmental protection efforts, is still relevant and strong.”
PERL and Environmental Defence attributed today’s win to the persistent and expert advocacy of Halton Region, the City of Burlington, Niagara Escarpment Commission, Conservation Halton and all the participants that testified against the development.
“We’re ecstatic with this outcome. It sets a new course for development on the Escarpment, making clear that the Niagara Escarpment Plan contains specific provisions that offer additional aspects of environmental protection in Ontario,” said David Donnelly, counsel to Environmental Defence and PERL during the 15-month hearing.
“The public was right, Mount Nemo is the wrong place for another destructive, below water table quarry,” said Roger Goulet, executive director of PERL.
Nelson presented a lengthy case in favour of the new quarry. In total, 60 witnesses, including 47 experts were called to the witness box.
The decision strongly supports the dissenting decision of Vice-Chair Robert Wright, in the Walker Aggregates Ltd. decision of the Joint Board that surprisingly approved a new quarry on the Escarpment. The Walker decision is being appealed by the Niagara Escarpment Commission.
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.
About PERL (www.perlofburlington.org): Protecting Escarpment Rural Land is involved in a number of initiatives to help protect the Niagara Escarpment for future generations. PERL retained Order of Canada architect Douglas Cardinal to help it devise a “Vision for Mount Nemo” that would allow Nemo’s industrial past to be transformed into a sustainable, ecological future.
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For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:
Stephanie Kohls, Environmental Defence, skohls@environmentaldefence.ca, 647-280-9521
Jen Mayville, Environmental Defence, jmayville@environmentaldefence.ca, 905-330-0172
David Donnelly, Legal Counsel, Environmental Defence and PERL, david@donnellylaw.ca, 416-722-0220