For Immediate Release:  May 4, 2011

Burlington Votes Unanimously to Permanently Protect Mount Nemo Plateau:  Council resolution again calls for Niagara Escarpment re-designation of the Mount Nemo plateau
Burlington, ON – Burlington council voted 7-0 to support Protecting Escarpment Rural Land’s (PERL) Amendment application to re-designate the Nelson Aggregate Lands from Niagara Escarpment Plan “Escarpment Rural” to “Natural” and “Protection”.  Both designations prohibit quarrying.

The vote follows the unanimous Resolution of Conservation Halton to support the Amendment.  Halton Region also supported PERL’s re-designation request.

“We’re exercising our democratic right to protect the land with these designations, just as Nelson has exercised its right to try and blow another hole in the Niagara Escarpment,” said Sarah Harmer, cofounder of PERL.

“Every public agency that has considered PERL’s application agrees that the sensitive Nelson lands fit the criteria for protection perfectly,” said Dr. Rick Smith, executive director of Environmental Defence.

“We’re confident the Minister of Natural Resources will comply with its own policies and regulations with regards to protection of environmentally sensitive lands and species; and will respect the wishes of local residents and their elected representatives by allowing the re-designation to proceed,” Smith added.

Nelson is proposing a new, 82 ha (150 acre) quarry for the Mount Nemo plateau, an area of prime agricultural land and within the Halton Region Natural Heritage System, which should be re-designated NEP “Escarpment Protection”.  The site also contains the Provincially Significant Grindstone Creek Headwaters Wetland Complex, which should be re-designated NEP “Escarpment Natural”.  Additionally, this area contains proven habitats for endangered species.

Collectively, the Region and City represent over 500,000 residents.  Dozens of environmental groups and hundreds of citizens joined Environmental Defence and the Ontario Greenbelt Alliance and signed the Mount Nemo Declaration, calling on Premier McGuinty to stop the quarry, and to re-designate the “environmentally sensitive” lands on Mount Nemo.

A Joint Board hearing into the quarry application has been underway since November 17, 2010.  The hearing is now scheduled to last until December 2011, at least.  The PERL re-designation, which is the only application that asks whether the site should be permanently protected, must now be referred to a hearing of the Escarpment Commission Hearing Office (ECHO).  The ECHO hearing is expected to last two weeks, or less.  Most, if not all of the proposed Nelson Quarry site will be off-limits to mineral resource extraction if the ECHO ruled in PERL’s favour.

In September 2010, the Niagara Escarpment Commission voted to process PERL’S private amendment, and has posted notice on the Environmental Bill of Rights Registry for public comment.  The comment period ends on May 16, 2011.
On December 16, 2009, Halton Regional Council adopted Regional Official Plan Amendment No. 38, ROPA 38 created a new, 15,000 acre Natural Heritage System (“NHS”) for Halton that passed council unanimously.  The Halton NHS identifies much of the land on the Nelson quarry site as Halton NHS and “environmentally sensitive”, which would prohibit a new quarry.
On September 15, 2010, the Region of Halton and City of Burlington each passed unanimous resolutions supporting the PERL private amendment application for the Nelson subject lands as a “first step” to protecting the entire Mount Nemo Plateau.
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.
For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:
Stephanie Kohls, Environmental Defence, (416) 323-9521, ext. 232 or (647) 280-9521(cell), skohls@environmentaldefence.ca