Knowing there’s a dust problem with an aggregate pit is one thing. Paying to confirm it is quite another.
Estimates for dust monitoring at the proposed expansion site of the Lewis Pit, located at 2791 George Johnston Rd., in Springwater Township's Snow Valley area, start at $25,000 and could climb as high as $85,000 or more.
“I don’t think we need to hire a consultant to determine there’s a dust problem at this pit,” said Coun. Brad Thompson. “I understand the pit itself has already hired a dust consultant and they said they were going to share the results with us. That was at least six months ago.”
Thompson suggested the township save the money and rely on the tests done by the pit owners.
“Let them make the investment,” he argued. “Clearly their dust consultant would, if it’s done properly, determine there is a dust problem there, which we all know there is.”
Coun. Anita Moore agreed that the township didn’t need a third-party consultant to do the air quality/dust study, but would like to hire a consultant to do a peer review.
“I think a peer review would really provide us with what we need,” said Moore. “A third party might provide the residents with some solace.”
In 2022, Galibier Materials, owners of the pit, sought approvals for an expansion of the pit to the adjacent property at 2857 George Johnston Rd., proposed as a Class A - Above Water Table pit under the Aggregate Resource Act (ARA), with a maximum limit of 750,000 tonnes.
According to the pit owners, the Lewis Pit has an expected lifespan of five to 10 years remaining and they are looking to secure approvals to continue operations at 2857 George Johnston Rd.
The proposed expansion land is approximately 21.1 hectares with a proposed extraction limit area of 17.5 hectares. The land has approximately 280 metres of frontage along George Johnston Road and 970 metres of frontage along Seadon Road
The pit owners said there will be no increase in truck traffic — a major contributor to dust creation.
The proposed expansion land is currently designated and zoned for agricultural uses. An Official Plan amendment (OPA) and zoning bylaw amendment (ZBA) are needed to consider expansion plans requested by Galibier Materials.
Galibier also needs to receive approval under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF).
In December 2022, the township provided ARA comments to the MNRF seeking modifications to the proposed ARA operational plans to respect the township’s zoning bylaw regarding extractive setbacks.
Township staff noted the extraction limit along the eastern boundary of the subject land is proposed to be setback 30 metres from the property line abutting residential properties on Boothby Crescent.
However, the township’s extractive industrial zone states: “No sand or gravel excavation shall proceed closer than 120 metres to any residential, commercial, institutional or industrial or zone, nor closer than 15 metres to a property line, nor closer than 30 metres to a public road allowance, nor closer than 150 metres from any residential use except for a residential use as permitted in Section 28.2.1.”
Township staff requested the ARA operational plan be revised to comply with Section 28.3.6 of the extractive industrial zone and setback the limit of extraction to no closer than 120 metres to the adjacent residential zones and no closer than 150 metres to any residence located on Boothby Crescent.
About five months ago, on April 12, the township held the required public meeting to discuss the Lewis Pit expansion. Residents raised a number of issues, including impacts to quality of water in the area, increased noise, dust and air quality, impact on property values and impacts on the vegetation and wildlife of the Nine Mile Portage Heritage Trail.
As a result of the public meeting, council sought additional information for a township initiated air quality/dust study and legal considerations regarding the township’s extractive industrial zoning. Council also requested Galibier delay its Official Plan and zoning bylaw amendment until the release of the updated aggregate supply and Demand report, scheduled for early 2024.
Based on the legal counsel opinions and discussions, staff believe a revised draft zoning bylaw, indicating the applicant’s intent to apply for a site-specific reduced extractive setback of 30 metres, be submitted and a statutory public meeting be held.
Township staff say they expect Galibier will reference Section 66(1) of the Aggregate Resources Act to supersede the township’s extractive industrial setback requirements.
“This Act, the regulations and the provisions of licenses and permits and site plans apply despite any municipal bylaw, Official Plan or development agreement and, to the extent that a municipal bylaw, Official Plan or development agreement deals with the same subject matter as this Act, the regulations or the provisions of a licence or permit or a site plan, the bylaw, Official Plan, or development agreement is inoperative.”
Once a revised proposal has been received, the township will circulate notice of a public meeting to be held this fall to residents within 800 metres of the subject land.
Wayne Doyle, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, BarrieToday.com