Tyendinaga Township council is going to have a hard decision to make. You might say it’s going to be a “rock hard” decision.
The owner of Long’s Quarry, Charlie Demill, is asking council to approve rezoning to allow a major expansion (63 acres/26 hectares) of the quarry.
The maximum amount of aggregate that could be taken from an expanded quarry would remain the same as it is now for Long’s Quarry, 500,000 tonnes per year.
The quarry property is in the area of Melrose and Shannonville Roads.
A public meeting was held on the applications Saturday afternoon. Some 200 people jammed the Tyendinaga Township Recreation Centre to listen,
learn and comment on the proposals. The meeting began shortly after 10 a.m. and lasted until almost 2 o’clock.
Tyendinaga Township Reeve Rick Phillips opened the meeting by stressing that no decision would be made at the meeting.
This issue has simmered for several years in the township.
Many residents, especially those living around the quarry don’t want to see a bigger one. There is a maximum of 10 years worth of aggregate left
in the existing Long’s Quarry.
Residents against the quarry expansion worry about noise from trucks, blasting and crushers. They worry about their wells going dry. They don’t want to put up with dust and air pollution.
One man, who’d lived by an active quarry in another part of the province, said council should be most concerned about the environment and the people living nearby.
He was emotional as he said his home became uninhabitable because of dust and foundation cracks. He said he ended up with breathing problems because of it. His property, and that of others, became worthless.
The Ontario and Hastings Federations of Agriculture are against the plan. They say the expert’s classification of the soil on the land as being unsuitable for cash crops is simply wrong. Soybeans and grain/sweet corn crops grow there.
There were about 15 experts, many of them engineers, at the meeting. On one side of the room were consultants hired by Demill Holdings Pit and Quarry and on the other side were experts paid for by Hastings County. They had peer-reviewed the many studies done by Demill’s people.
Both sets of experts agreed there were no serious negative effects should the quarry be expanded.
Hastings County’s Official Plan has designated the entire property as suitable for aggregate extraction and it has been zoned to allow it for several years. The existing quarry has been in existence since 1939.
The proponents have increased the setbacks from 30 to 100 metres from Blessington Creek and quarrying activity, and there will be a 5-metre vegetation zone planted with native species around the setbacks.
Around 30 people spoke at the meeting. One man suggested Deputy-Reeve Adam Hannafin had a conflict of interest because Charlie Demill had married his now deceased grandmother back in the 90s. The man suggested the Deputy-Reeve could financially benefit from an expanded quarry.
Hannafin said he received legal advice and he was confident that he was not in a conflict of interest. He went on to say that he would receive no financial benefit from it one way or another. “I’ve received a few Christmas gifts from Charlie Demill, but that’s it. This is a big decision, and it’s my responsibility as an elected representative to be involved.”
Although most speakers were against an expansion several were for it.
One man said he lived within 100 feet of the Lafarge quarries in Point Anne and said he suffered no negative impacts because of the operation. “They couldn’t be better neighbours. There’s all kinds of wildlife. I can’t understand what people are worried about!”
A woman then said that was fine, but this wasn’t Point Anne and people had experienced damage to homes and water problems in the area.
A woman who worked for Demill Holdings was emphatic in stressing that the business employed 12 people who supported their families. She stressed the quarry
produced material (gravel) that was absolutely necessary, adding that the business supported other small businesses such as contractors and truckers She said the business donated material and money in countless ways to the community and had for several years.
Others in support said that it didn’t make any sense to haul gravel from quarries outside the area when it was available locally.
Their point being that citizens and the township itself would have to pay higher prices for a necessary product that was sitting on their doorstep.
One man said Charlie Demill was one of the finest gentlemen he’d ever known.
Council may or not make a decision on the rezoning at its November meeting. After that a new council will take over the reins.