Calling the township irresponsible for approving concrete and asphalt recycling at a gravel pit to be situated near Winterbourne, residents this week called on councillors to launch a legal battle against the plan.
The Jigs Hollow pit was given the green light in a November decision by the Ontario Municipal Board. Behind closed doors prior to the hearings, the township signed an agreement permitting recycling on the site despite expressly denying the practice just a few months earlier.
Addressing councillors this week, Conestogo resident Gordon Haywood said they had failed in their mandate to protect residents given there are no measures in place to deal with potential health risks associated with crystalline silica dust and diesel exhaust particulate, both known carcinogens.
Citing the case of Ken Cressey, a resident of North Frontenac Township, about 120 kilometres north of Kingston, he said failure to act can be fatal. In that instance, Cressey’s wife became ill and died of silicosis in October 2009, less than 18 months after mining began at a gravel pit across the road from the couple’s home.
“There is no safe level of fine particulate matter,” he said, noting there are no provisions for monitoring potentially harmful dust that would be created at the site.
Nor, added Winterbourne resident Jan Huissoon, are there any baseline measures of dust and noise levels to determine just how much of an impact the addition of a gravel mine will have on the currently bucolic environment.
While acknowledging the township’s concerns about the cost of legal battles, they called on councillors to appeal the OMB decision, overturning the recycling provisions.
Councillors took no position, however.
Pointing to a report from a consultant hired by the township, director of engineering and planning Dan Kennaley said crystalline silica will not be an issue at the pit. Further, there’s a dust mitigation plan in place, with notification provisions should any problems arise.
Kuntz Topsoil, Sand and Gravel, in partnership with Preston Sand and Gravel, expects to extract up to 150,000 tonnes of gravel each year from an 89-acre site at 125 Peel St. The company may also import up to 30,000 tonnes of asphalt and concrete for recycling, as well as topsoil for screening and resale.