The addition of a new player won’t have an impact on upcoming mediation talks about the proposed Jigs Hollow gravel pit, say Woolwich officials.
The township recently received notice the applicant behind the bid, Kuntz Topsoil, Sand and Gravel, has entered into a business deal with Preston Sand and Gravel. The development has residents worried, but there’s nothing to be concerned about, director of engineering and planning Dan Kennaley said this week.
A mediation session, part of an Ontario Municipal Board action launched by the Kuntz, will go ahead as planned starting Monday, he said following a presentation by Winterbourne resident Laurie Breed.
Breed was at the Sept. 18 meeting in council chambers to air residents’ concerns about the development, arguing Preston Sand and Gravel’s involvement could indicate plans to expand on aggregate extraction in the Winterbourne Valley.
The partnership could signal the desire for an expansion of the current application – perhaps going below the water table to find gravel – or plans for applications involving neighbouring farm properties, she suggested.
Breed called on council to deny the Kuntz application to prevent the door being opened to others, urging them to “save the Winterbourne valley from its otherwise inevitable demise.”
Kennaley tried to allay those fears, noting any new applications would have to go through the entire process to be judged on their own merits, regardless of what happens with the Jigs Hollow project.
“You can’t read into it that all those negatives will come through,” he said of Breed’s concerns about the partnership deal, adding such arrangements aren’t uncommon in the industry. “It doesn’t mean that they’re going to have it easier.”
Likewise, mediation doesn’t mean the township is accepting the Kuntz pit to go ahead and is only trying to mitigate the impacts – “That’s certainly not the case.”
While the previous council approved the project in principle, many new issues have arisen. Mediation allows both sides to sort out concerns. The dispute may still go to an OMB hearing, but it could be shorter and less costly based on any common ground reached during mediation sessions, said Kennaley.
Any agreements reached in mediation would have to come back to council, where there would be an opportunity for public input, added chief administrative officer David Brenneman.
Kuntz Topsoil, Sand and Gravel hopes to mine gravel from a site at 125 Peel St., close to Winterbourne, Conestogo and West Montrose. The company is seeking to extract some 840,000 tonnes of aggregate, incorporating the recycling of concrete and asphalt – along with screening topsoil – into the operation. In June, council rejected the recycling portion of the operation, citing health and environmental concerns.