Burlington taking fight against Mount Nemo quarry expansion to province

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Published May 21, 2024 at 3:18 pm

mount nemo quarry burlington ontario

Burlington council is calling on the provincial government to halt the proposed expansion of the Mount Nemo quarry. 

At a May 21 meeting, councillors passed a motion asking the province to deny Nelson Aggregates’ expansion into Mount Nemo. The motion was put forward by Mayor Marianne Meed Ward and Ward 3 Coun. Rory Nisan. 

The move to stall the expansion has been active for some time, with the city taking a stance last year. Last October, the city announced it would fight the plan for mining operations in the area after meeting in a secret session to determine the implications of taking part in a battle that will go before the Ontario Land Tribunal, the agency that will ultimately determine the fate of the mining operation.

At the time, the city said it instructed its legal team to attend the OLT hearing to present its case.

The Halton Region also said it would send representatives concerned about the project. 

The expansion application by Nelson Aggregates calls for expanding its existing mining operation by 50.5 hectares on Mount Nemo.

In the motion, Meed Ward and Nisan said the Mount Nemo plateau is located within Ontario’s Greenbelt and is an integral part of the Niagara Escarpment UNESCO biosphere reserve that sustains a “fragile and inter-connected ecosystem featuring over 20 headwater tributaries, provincially significant wetlands, areas of natural and scientific interest, regionally significant woodland, and the significant habitat of rare and endangered species.” 

Opponents of the plan point to the potential ecological damage that continuous mining will cause to environmentally sensitive sites. The motion also expresses concerns about the “disregard for fish habitat and lack of protection for natural amphibious creatures in the surrounding area,” as well as noise and air quality. 

The motion also says blasting could lead to the proliferation of debris. 

Those in favour of the expansion say the raw material produced by the quarry is needed to meet the GTHA’s building demands.

If the plan proceeds, Nelson Aggregates has offered to donate the land at the end of the quarry’s life, which is proposed to be phased out in stages over 30 years. It has been suggested the rehabilitated quarry could be used as a large park.

The motion argues the expansion is unnecessary, saying the aggregate industry in the region has the licensed capacity to produce 13 times the annual average demand for aggregate in Ontario, with 22 active quarries already in operation in Halton. 

The motion also says a unanimous 2012 Joint Board decision denied a similar Nelson extraction application, leading to a 2016 NEC recommendation to protect the Mount Nemo plateau. The motion also notes that newly elected MPP Zee Hamid, who recently won a byelection in Milton, campaigned on the promise to ensure Nelson Quarry would not expand. 

Now, the city is formally asking the provincial government, including Premier Doug Ford, the Minister of the Environment, the Attorney General and local MPPs, to deny the application and establish long-term protection through the redesignation of the Mount Nemo Plateau as protected escarpment territory. 

The case will be presented to the OLT in the coming months. 

– With files from Steve Pecar

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