Thursday, March 2, 2017


Both the Waterloo Region Record and the Woolwich Observer covered the meeting in Woolwich Council Chambers this past Tuesday evening (along with CKCO-TV Kitchener). The Observer's story in today's paper is titled "Residents come out swinging against latest gravel pit plan for Jigs Hollow". The Record's story yesterday was titled "Residents oppose request to change rules for gravel pit". While both stories are very good nevertheless I am going to primarily be using my notes for today's posting.

Jan Huisson from Conestogo is one of the members of Friends of the Winterbourne Valley. He spoke Tuesday evening mentioning that the OMB in their Hunder Pit Decision made a pretty big deal about noise in a previous very quiet location could rise very easily to being an adverse effect. The Ministry of Environment criteria is 45 decibels. Jan stated that Back-Up beepers on construction equipment alone can be at 115 decibells and can be heard up to two kilometres away. This could go on from 7 am. to 7 pm. for the next fifteen to twenty years. He also mentioned that both the Region of Waterloo and the Grand River Conservation Authority are in favour of Woolwich Township deferring the decision regarding lifting the Holding Provision on the site.

Karen Bleckholt of Winterbourne spoke very bluntly. Big business were attempting to bully a small community and she didn't appreciate it. She essentially, politely told them to bugger off. I quite enjoyed her comments.

Graham Stickler is a hydrologist from Winterbourne. He clarified as to how models need to be validated and verified. This refers to noise models and that they had not been properly verified. There is a theatre effect with the valley and the river and noise is amplified. He believes that the noise model presented by the proponents was not verified particularily in the residential areas of Winterbourne.

Sonya Somerville spoke to issues concerning Class 1 Farmland and food production in southern Ontario. Initially the pit was going to be at least rehabilitated to Class 2 soils but now it will be nothing more than a manmade lake. This is not rehabilitation.

Laurie Breed and Jan Huisson spoke to Cultural Heritage issues and how they would be degraded by this proposed gravel pit. There would also be a loss of tourism dollars in the area courtesy of this pit.

Della Strooboscher of Conestoga spoke to the bad faith displayed by Preston Sand & Gravel. In September 2013 they ignored the operational plan by starting work early. On Saturday April 26/14 they were improperly working on the site also in contravention of their agreement. She mentioned that there is an Old Order Mennonite School on the truck Haul Route from the pit. The trucks in fact would be travelling within 200 metres of the school.She advised that the provincial agency dealing with real estate assessment had directly due to the gravel pit, lowered the house financial evaluation at 230 Golf Course Rd.. She listed all the adverse effects including noise, visual, traffic, loss of prime farmland and drinking water threats.

Tony Dowling of West Montrose spoke. He is a member of Gravel Watch (ontario). He stated that councils should give greater credence to citizens' information reports than to the consultants of the Applicant. He reiterated the pattern of non-compliance by Preston S & G. This included starting before 7 am. and going below 1.5 metres from the water table, contrary to their binding agreement. He showed how they (PSG) had fiddled their 2014, 2015 and 2016 Compliance assessment reports. In all three they had stated that they were in compliance with all sections when in fact they were not. Tony repeatedly used their own phrase that "mistakes happen" against PSG. Finally he advised that the Ministry of Natural resources and Forestry most likely will not stop PSG's newest plans but that the Township were in a position to do so.

John Milloy of Conestogo mentioned that when he bought his home he understood that a small pit would run there for six to seven years. These newest plans have shocked him. He also spoke to several cool water fish species that would be at risk as well as the vulnerability of groundwater.

Willem Horst de Ville lives on Peel St. right across from the pit. He spoke to the massive changes in the plans for the pit over the last several years. He had also been advised of drastic reductions in house values do to proximity to gravel pits. Under 1/2 km away house values can drop 25% and even a full kilometre away they can drop by 15%.

Dan Kennally of the Woolwich Planning & Engineering Dep't spoke last. He reiterated that the Township are looking for two more peer reviews of the Proponent/Applicant's studies and that there will be ample notice given to the public before this application proceeds further.

Of interest and concern to me was Woolwich Council's muteness throughout. While they asked a couple of questions of the Proponent David Sisco at the start; they virtually didn't make a comment or ask a single question of all the citizens speaking on Tuesday night. Why not? It sure as hell isn't that they know all the answers. That was made obvious by the calibre of the couple of questions they did ask early on. I smell a rat but that's because of Council's history on this pit plus other environmental issues.

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