Maryhill residents seek heritage designation around village in fight to block gravel pit application

Maryhill residents are calling for a gravel pit application to be put on hold while the area is studied for a possible heritage designation.

“We ask council to direct staff to complete the cultural heritage landscape study for Maryhill, before the staff report and recommendation for the Shantz Station pit are brought to council,” said Don Schwartzentruber of the Hopewell Creek Ratepayers Association in addressing councillors Tuesday night.

He called on for the Capital Paving bid to be put on the backburner while the township explores a cultural heritage landscape (CHL) designation for the village and its surroundings.

Maryhill was identified as a candidate for such a designation in a 2018 report by the Heritage Resource Centre at the University of Waterloo. A review, which also included other sites such as Snyder’s Flats and Floradale, was backed by council, but there’s been no action thus far, Schwartzentruber said.

Given that no boundaries have even been set for a CHL, the township should wait until that process is carried out, he argued.

“In case there were any doubts, we are in staunch opposition to the gravel pit,” he said, eliciting a chuckle from the packed council chambers.

But Capital Paving counters that a heritage review it carried out shows the proposed pit – located on combined 230 acres of land spread across four properties at 1226 Maryhill Rd., 1175 Foerster Rd., 1195 Foerster Rd and 1472 Village View Rd. – does not fall within the CHL boundary proposed in the previous study.

Neal DeRuyter of MHBC Planning, representing the applicant, called the ratepayer association’s request a delaying tactic.

“Capital is opposed to any actions that are going to unfairly delay their gravel pit application,” he said, noting the company made its intentions known two years earlier.

Coun. Patrick Merlihan, however, stressed that council approved a CHL process before Capital Paving’s gravel pit plans were known.

While the company says the pit would fall outside a CHL study area, a township-led peer review of Capital’s report may say otherwise, said director of planning Mark Pomponi, who said Woolwich would be looking for just such a review.

Anything that would block the development of gravel mining would be welcomed by residents, who’ve been turning out in droves to protest the proposed project, arguing the large operation would have an adverse impact on surrounding homes, businesses and farm operations.

Capital has its eyes on some three million metric tonnes of aggregate material it proposed to mine from a 168-acre swatch of the four properties. The pit application calls for the extraction of 500,000 tonnes per year, though the company suggests it would remove about half that much annually, meaning the pit would be in operation for 12 to 15 years.

Residents have been laying out numerous concerns and calling on council to turn down Capital Paving’s request.

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