Looking for some movement on its application for a gravel pit near Maryhill, Capital Paving wants a provincial tribunal to weigh in rather than waiting on Woolwich Township to decide.
The move takes the decision out of council’s hands, though it will have to decide what course it wants to take at the Ontario Land Tribunal (OLT) hearing. Councillors were slated to hear from the public at a meeting on August 10, the date to which they deferred a decision following a special session July 13 at which a long list of residents expressed opposition to the plan.
Capital Paving wants to develop an extraction operation on a 230-acre site centered on 1195 Foerster Rd., south of Maryhill. 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.
In launching a pre-emptive appeal to the OLT, Capital Paving indicated it wasn’t prepared to wait any longer while the township considered the issue.
“After a two-year municipal review, which included extensive peer reviews, it now appears that Capital Paving’s Shantz Station Pit application is stalled. We believe it is in the best interest of everyone that the application be resolved by an appeal to the Ontario Land Tribunal,” said George Lourenco, the company’s resources manager, in an email.
“Capital is appealing because we’ve met the requirements of both the region and township official plans, satisfied all peer reviewers hired by the municipalities, and received a recommendation by township staff to approve an official plan amendment and zone change. Despite this, council’s decision has been deferred twice with no indication of decision at the August 10 meeting. We feel an appeal to the OLT is best way to proceed with our application.”
The move likely indicates the company was worried about which way the wind was blowing in council’s assessment of the application for a gravel operation, suggested Bonnie Bryant of the Hopewell Creek Ratepayers Association, which is leading the charge against the project.
“I don’t think they like the way the meeting was going,” she said, adding the association will be looking for standing at the OLT hearing.
“We definitely want to be involved because this pit is not in the right location. We’re not opposed to gravel pits, we’re opposed to the location of this particular pit. With the businesses and the community, there’s just more wrong than there is right with this pit – the wetlands, the water and all the issues, like prime agricultural farmland.”
Whether the issue remains on council’s August 10 agenda will depend on Capital formally filing an appeal to the OLT, said David Brenneman, Woolwich’s chief administrative officer. At that point, the township will be seeking advice from its lawyers about how to proceed.
“Council will have to decide what its position will be,” he said, noting Capital’s move wasn’t expected, but wasn’t a complete surprise given the township’s experience with similar appeals to the tribunal during past planning applications.
Planned as a lead-in to the public meeting next week, a rally organized by the Hopewell Creek Ratepayers Association will go ahead as planned on Sunday, Bryant said. The goal is to draw attention to the impacts the proposed pit would have on the Maryhill community, its groundwater and provincially significant wetlands.
The rally will be leaving the community centre at 1 p.m. on Sunday and heading to the vicinity of the proposed site on Foerster Road. There will be speakers, including the Wellington Water Watchers.