Despite a pending OMB appeal, Woolwich should stay the course with its new aggregate extraction policy, says a citizens’ group fighting a gravel pit proposed for West Montrose.
The Bridge Keepers are squaring off against Guelph-based Capital Paving, which wants to extract aggregate from a 115-acre site near the intersection of Letson Drive and Kathleen Street. Prompted by the company’s appeal of the issue to the Ontario Municipal Board, Tony Dowling attended Monday night’s council meeting to support the township’s new aggregate policy.
That policy, known as official plan amendment 13 (OPA 13), is at the heart of Capital’s appeal to the OMB. The company says its application for the West Montrose pit predates OPA 13, so it should not be subjected to the more stringent requirements of the new aggregate policy.
The application was submitted Sept. 28, 2008, while OPA 13 was adopted by Woolwich council Oct. 20, and has yet to be approved by Waterloo Region.
In the appeal sent to the OMB last month, Capital’s lawyers argue the “significant new informational requirements” demanded by OPA 13 don’t apply to the application, which the township has twice sent back to the company as incomplete.
Given the size of the proposed pit and its impact on the area surrounding the historic covered bridge, the township should stand firm against Capital’s claims, Dowling said, adding that five gravel pit applications under consideration stand to affect some 2,000 Woolwich residents.
In support of the Bridge Keepers’ position, the group brought out Nick McDonald of Meridian Planning, a consultant with years of experience with aggregate policies. The group had several supporters out, and was joined by members of the Conestogo Winterbourne Residents Association.
The studies Woolwich is requesting of Capital are “standard, common-sense information,” McDonald told councillors, praising the language in OPA 13 – “I can tell you the official plan amendment is well-written.”
The application process is underway with both the Ministry of Natural Resources, which licenses gravel pits, and the township, which must grant a zone change to allow the operation on what is currently farmland.
Capital Paving representative George Lourenco said in an interview this week the company would make no more comments about the project until the OMB has dealt with its appeal.
In a related matter, council voted to oppose an application by Kuntz Topsoil, Sand and Gravel Ltd. for a pit at Jigs Hollow Road, north of Conestogo. The preemptive measure was simply a housekeeping measure in order to get an opinion on the books at the Aggregate Resources Act review conducted by the MNR while the township investigates the company’s application under the Planning Act. The move gives the township time to prepare its own response to the applications, said Director of engineering and planning Dan Kennaley, noting the Kuntz application would likely take six to 12 months to review before a report is back at council.
Similar moves were taken last fall with Capital Paving’s application, as well as one by D&J Lockhart Excavators.