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Residents’ group takes aim at Maryhill pit

Heartened by Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s commitment to stand with residents opposed to an aggregate-extraction operation proposed for Campbellville, a Woolwich group is asking local officials to follow suit.

The Hopewell Creek Residents Association (HCRA) this week delivered 262 letters to Woolwich council and Kitchener-Conestoga MPP Mike Harris’ office. The letter-writing campaign began in mid-August following Ford’s pledge to a group called ActionMilton that he would block the project.

“I am not in favour of (the Campbellville quarry). I believe in governing for the people. And when the people don’t want something you don’t do it. It’s very simple. I know the Mayor doesn’t want it, no one wants it. I don’t want it. We are going to make sure it doesn’t happen one way or another,” Ford said in an August visit to Milton.

Those words were quickly transmitted to groups across the province with their own battles over gravel pits, including HCRA.

Ford’s comments imply that overwhelming local opposition should win the day, that “you don’t have to have it,” said association member Bonnie Bryant.

Now, residents are looking for township and regional council to vote against the proposal, solidifying the opposition, calling on Woolwich Mayor Sandy Shantz and regional Chair Karen Redman to support the public stance.

“In this Campbellville case the municipality stood up for the community.  The mayor was against the proposal.  Obviously, the strong opposition of the community, supported by elected officials made a difference to the Premier. Please, Chair Redman and Mayor Shantz, lead your councils to the right decision for the Region of Waterloo, the Township of Woolwich and the Village of Maryhill,” the group writes in the letter delivered this week.

“Please stand with the community in going to the Premier to say ‘we don’t want the gravel pit… no one wants it…’”

“We have 262 letters saying ‘stop this pit,’” Bryant said in an interview.

“They need to stand up with their residents, not the applicant,” she added of local politicians.

The campaign takes aim at Capital Paving’s bid to develop an extraction operation on a 230-acre site centered on 1195 Foerster Rd., south of Maryhill.

The Guelph-based company has applied to Woolwich for the zoning and official plan amendments needed to mine what is currently farmland. Capital Paving is leasing the site, proposing to extract gravel in five phases, with the owner continuing to farm the land before and after each phase. The plan is to rehabilitate the entire site back to prime farmland when the project is completed. The firm estimates the site contains three million tonnes of aggregate materials. While the pit application looks to extract 500,000 tonnes per year, Capital predicts it would remove about half that much annually, meaning the pit would be in operation for 12 to 15 years.

Planners at the township and region are still reviewing the documents submitted by Capital Paving.

At the township, manager of planning Jeremy Vink said the work is in progress, but there’s no timeline for bringing a report to council.

Until that review is complete and council deliberates on whatever staff recommends, councillors can’t weigh in on the proposal, said Shantz.

“As council, we have to wait for the staff report,” she said, noting expressing opinions ahead of time would fetter council’s decision.

Shantz said she expects the matter to come before council this fall.

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