Tuesday, July 15, 2014


Some environmental issues are black and white. Others are not. In the former group would be drinking water in Woolwich's rural areas namely West Montrose and Heidelberg and in the latter for me would be Woolwich Bio-En and the formerly proposed Hunder gravel pit. To date it is my understanding that Woolwich Bio-En have been ramping up and operating with little or no conflicts with their neighbours. Make no mistake I was certainly opposed to their location in Elmira as I felt it was just asking way too much for the long suffering community to have yet another noisy, dusty, smelly, truck traffic dependant industry so close to a residential area. There are also legitimate concerns around methane gas production and possible fire hazards. Well to date all problems appear to have been sucessfully met. Furthermore I would suggest that they are sincerely interacting with the community and keeping them informed of issues and responses through their Citizens Liason Committee. Congratulations are in order and I hope that I will be of the same opinion years down the line.

The Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) hearing into the proposed Hunder pit was an eyeopener. Again I went into that hearing as a spectator with a strong anti gravel pit bias. By the end of the hearing I was appalled at the incredible rigidity, length and expense of the entire process which literally spans several years. The hearing itself while professionally conducted by all parties did however shine a light on the provincial bias in favour of any and all gravel pit applications. It was all the more stunning when the Board turned down the application. I did suggest and still believe that it was yet one more politically motivated decision by the OMB. There has been significant backlash across Waterloo Region against approvals for new pits. The West Montrose proposed Capitol Paving gravel pit was an egregious example of what would have been poor planning and congratulations are in order for Woolwich Township and the local Bridgekeepers group. I believe that despite, in my opinion, the Hunder Pit sucessfully leaping all regulatory hurdles and crossing their i's and dotting their t's, that their application was dismissed due to political pressure from the province (M.N.R.?). Again while I personnally believe that it was too close to a long established residential neighbourhood; nevertheless it was ridiculously and unnecessarily stretched out over too many years, too many hurdles, too many meetings and way too much money for the proponent. Far better if years earlier the province, instead of encouraging him and other proponents, had told them upfront that this location was a poor one. At what point will this entire unweildy, expensive and inherently unfair process be streamlined?

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