I own a small farm within a few hundred meters of the Greer’s Greenridge Asparagus Farm which they are applying to rezone to open a new aggregate pit.
There is concern in the area for our water supply and the Waring Creek Water Shed overall. One concern is that the removal of the soil and sand takes away the land’s ability to absorb and filter rainwater much the same way the septic systems function which this sand is to be sold for. If the rainwater is not absorbed into the land it evaporates and does not contribute to our already depleted water supply. Greer’s plan to rehabilitate the land after extraction does not return the land to its original state or replace the biomass removed, it only means that several inches of top soil will be added back to the bottom of the excavation.
Another concern is that the Greer plan is to stay above the water table but measuring the height of the water table seems to be a moving target. Removing too much and digging too deep risks contamination. If measurements were done during a period of drought which it appears they were, then the pit becomes incorrectly viable. Even though the depth of the excavation is restricted, it is to be self-monitored by the operator and responsibility for compliance passes to the MNR and is unlikely to happen at all.
I work in the construction industry and understand there is a shortage of available sand in the county, but the story about having to drive hundreds of kilometres to Stirling must have had extenuating circumstances and is not the norm. Regardless, any additional cost of obtaining sand is passed on to the end user. A private contractor from the Greer side makes the argument that he can’t find enough people to employ because they can’t afford housing in the County and that cheap sand will somehow make a difference. The reason housing is expensive and scarce is because of demand. And that same demand creates the need for workers in the first place.
If we think it’s bad in the County, try Toronto. Cheaper building materials are insignificant compared to the issue of demand. The new pit will be a private enterprise operated for profit and not for the greater good of the County.
We have learned that many of our councilors share our concerns regarding the accuracy of the testing and about future monitoring but they are afraid to vote ‘No’ out of fear that an appeal will cost taxpayer money. I can’t think of a better way to spend my tax dollars than to protect my children’s access to clean drinking water.
If council votes ‘Yes’ for this reason, they are falling in line with our provincial government’s pro business stance vs the environment and we risk leaving yet another problem for the next generation. If you share our concerns please check out http://pec.buzz for more and come to Shire Hall September 10th when council is scheduled to bring this issue to a vote.