ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENCE
For Immediate Release:  November 17, 2010
Nelson Aggregate OMB Hearing Launches with Bombshell:  Ministry of Natural Resources Pulls Out Despite Overwhelming Public Opposition
BURLINGTON — Today, at the opening of the Nelson Aggregate quarry license application, the Ministry of Natural Resources withdrew from the hearing, in a dramatic and surprising statement, declaring their position “not in opposition” to the Nelson quarry.  Every other public agency including the City of Burlington, Region of Halton, the Halton Region Conservation Authority, Niagara Escarpment Commission (“NEC”) and the citizen’s group Protecting Escarpment Rural Land (“PERL”) is opposed.
Collectively, the Region and City represent over 500,000 residents.  Dozens of environmental groups and hundreds of citizens, including Greenpeace, Lake Ontario Waterkeeper, Sierra Club and Earthroots signed the Mount Nemo Declaration, calling on Premier McGuinty to stop the quarry.
“This is the broadest coalition of public agencies, citizen and environmental groups ever to oppose a quarry in Ontario,” said Dr. Rick Smith, executive director of Environmental Defence.
Nelson is proposing a new, 82 ha (200 acre) quarry for the Mount Nemo plateau, an area of prime agricultural land and within the Halton Region Natural Heritage System.
“The MNR pulling out of the Nelson hearing is simply bizarre.  It’s time the Ontario government took some responsibility for this mess,” Smith added. 
Many of the issues in the Nelson hearing were argued in the Rockfort quarry hearing.  The OMB found in that case that the MNR simply lacked the capacity to deal with future threats to the environment.
 
The Niagara Escarpment Commission (“NEC”), also a provincial agency, is opposing the quarry.  According to the Opening Statement of the NEC, the proposed Nelson quarry is not compatible with the natural environment because:
– It will have an impact on wooded areas that facilitate wildlife migration;
– Unique ecological areas will not be protected, wetlands may have to be artificially maintained, and species at risk may be harmed or eradicated through this development;
– There is no assurance that the quality and character of natural streams and water supplies will be maintained and enhanced;
– Approval of the quarry is not going to maintain and enhance the open landscape character of the Escarpment; and
– The natural environment of the escarpment would be interrupted by an industrial use, followed by an unnatural lake feature after eventual rehabilitation.
In September 2010, the Niagara Escarpment Commission voted to process PERL’s private amendment that would see a significant part of Mount Nemo Plateau, on the Niagara Escarpment in Burlington, Ontario permanently protected. 
“Premier McGuinty needs to consider environmental protection ahead of the quarry application on the Escarpment, which is Ontario’s UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve,” said Sarah Harmer, a co-founder of PERL.
“The MNR cannot run away from the Nelson hearing while Burlington, Halton and PERL’s Niagara Escarpment Commission application to get the planning right and correct the land designations on the proposed quarry site, sits on a shelf during the $5 million OMB hearing,” Harmer added.
The OMB hearing is scheduled to last 5 months, while the PERL NEP Amendment would take just a few days.  PERL is represented by Donnelly Law and three experts. 
ABOUT ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENCE (environmentaldefence.ca):  We are 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:  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, please contact:
Stephanie Kohls, Environmental Defence, (416) 323-9521, ext. 232 or (647) 280-9521(cell), skohls@environmentaldefence.ca