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News Article

Battle lines have been drawn on bid for Flamborough quarry


By Eric McGuinness
The Hamilton Spectator
April 25th, 2005 One of the biggest land use battles in Hamilton history is shaping up over plans for a huge limestone quarry in northeastern Flamborough.

"I think it is one of the biggest issues ever, bigger than any the former Flamborough council had to look at," Ward 15 Councillor Margaret McCarthy said yesterday. "The magnitude of this is going to be evolving as time goes on. God forbid it goes in."

At issue is a quarry landowner David Lowndes wants to put on 216 hectares near Mountsberg Road. The land has provincially significant wetlands underlain by a large deposit of top quality limestone in demand for roadbuilding and concrete construction.

> Once operational, the quarry would handle 900 or more truckloads of stone a day.

Against him are arrayed farmers, environmentalists, long-time rural residents and more recent arrivals who moved to the area to escape urban development. Opposition is also building in neighbouring Milton.

"You don't plunk down a quarry, one of the largest proposed in Canada, after supporting and approving significant, costly developments," said Mitchell. "It would be vile."

Lowndes is confident he will win the fight, even though his land has been put in the natural heritage area of the new provincial greenbelt.

"Our selling point is that the site has been designated for mineral extraction in the Hamilton-Wentworth Official Plan since 1980. We're doing with the site what was intended to be done with it."

A city staff report presented last week says, however, the official plan simply designates the land rural. It is in both agricultural and conservation management zones.

Opponents have concerns about road safety, noise, vibration, dust, effects on ground water, flow of streams feeding Bronte Creek and the loss of forest, wetlands and wildlife.

McCarthy says she sees no way to mitigate the effects of such a large scale industrial operation close to Carlisle and other established settlement areas.

Graham Flint lives on Timber Run Court, a fitting name for an enclave of custom homes in the woods off Mountsberg Road just north of the quarry site on the 11th Concession East at Milburough Line.

He's so worried, he left his job at Microsoft Canada to work full time as chair of FORCE -- Friends of Rural Communities and the Environment, an anti-quarry group led by about a dozen bankers, accountants, graphic artists, marketers and others who have already raised $150,000 from 300 supporters. The money is paying a groundwater expert, ecologist, environmental lawyer and other experts to study the Lowndes application. It also paid for 650 lawn signs that sprouted all over the area last summer.

Senior city planner Stan Holiday told council's planning and development committee last week he is close to finalizing a deal in which Lowndes will pay the city $200,000 or more to hire its own aggregate planning adviser and consultants to conduct peer reviews of scientific studies submitted with the application.

Council will be asked Wednesday night to continue to commit to a comprehensive public consultation process, but Holiday says that has to wait for the peer review reports and comments from outside agencies.

Those comments will come through a technical committee he hopes to assemble by June, with members from city departments, other affected municipalities, provincial ministries, school boards, the Niagara Escarpment Commission and Conservation Halton.

>Lowndes says depletion of other area quarries -- including the Nelson Quarry in north Burlington which is seeking to expand as it exhausts its original site -- means there is a need for the Amabel dolostone north of Carlisle.

"It's a very deep deposit, very thick, the bedrock is close to the surface and it's close to Highway 401. Milton Limestone is closed and rehabilitated. Halton Crushed Stone is near to depletion. We need replacement sources."

emcguinness@thespec.com 905-526-4650


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