Wednesday, March 1, 2017


For a citizen activist, last evening was heaven on earth. Woolwich Council Chambers were not just full, they were full and overflowing. Latecomers were lined up outside the two rooms listening from the hallway. There were no shackles, whips or branding irons present. What was present was citizen after citizen calmly, quietly and accurately making a mockery of the rehabilitation plans, the consultants' reports and the misinformation presented by David Sisco (planner-IBI Group) on behalf of Shawn Blackwell of Preston Sand & Gravel. The proponents, similar to most well heeled proponents of environmentally unsound projects, are the ones who usually make a mockery of the process. They simply attempt to outspend and out qualify with bought and paid for "expert" opinion. Data is cherry picked to support their positions and overall bludgeon their way to getting their way. Often their consultants' reports are pure puffery and wishful thinking. They are the "opinions" of credentialed individuals willing to sell their minds; intellectual prostitutes if you will.

Today I will only be able to cover half of last night's meeting. I expect to cover the other half tomorrow. Only the Applicant/Proponent can appeal (to the OMB) a decision of Woolwich Council not to lift their Holding Provision prohibiting below the groundwater gravel extraction. In other words if Woolwich Council are hell bent on political suicide/environmental & human adverse impacts and agree to lift their Holding provision affected citizens can not appeal to the OMB. Currently Woolwich Township are getting peer reviews of the Proponents's noise and hydrogeological studies. These are a must as it appears that both of them are self-serving and full of holes. The Grand River Conservation Authority (GRCA) and the Region of Waterloo have both raised concerns with the Preston Sand & Gravel Application and are currently asking Woolwich Council for a deferral in order to allow the Proponent/Applicants time to respond to their concerns. The Region wants Preston S & G to add identification of drinking wells within 1000 metres (1 km) of the pit. This would appropriately include all the Winterbourne private wells. Preston S & G are claiming that there is a shallow aquifer groundwater divide caused by the Grand River which prevents any impact upon Winterbourne wells. Nice try there Preston S & G. While your basic statement (groundwater divide) may be true it is misleading and deceptive as that very deep pit (proposed lake) certainly can have impacts on Winterbourne private wells.

Councillor Mark Bauman (Mr. Flip Flop) did it again. He bailed out of the controversy by declaring a conflict of interest. Shades of mayor Doug Craig and I believe Chair Ken Seiling bailing out of the LRT voting a few years back. They used their children's ownership of properties near the proposed LRT routes as an excuse to avoid politically dangerous votes. In Mark's case he claimed to have a relationship with one of the Proponent/Applicants. I'm pretty certain he wasn't suggesting an inappropriate male/female relationship but it still begs the obvious question. If he's got a relationship now with one of the proponents did he have this "relationship" in the past? If so why didn't he declare his conflict of interest then? There have been some pro gravel pit votes by him over the years. Or in the contrary is his "relationship" simply an out so he doesn't have to vote against a local, well known and influential business party? Voting in favour of this gravel pit now is political suicide. Even Woolwich Council I hope aren't that stupid.

Anton Huber(?) of Winterbourne spoke to a book and a couple of experts' studies of floodplains and the gravel within them and how they affect renewal of aquatic ecosystems. A functioning floodplain improves water quality and the overall ecosystems nearby. Removal of gravel from floodplains is extremely harmful and the cumulative negative effects of numerous gravel pits along rivers are well known.

Gord Haywood of Conestogo was one of a number of devastating speakers last night. He mentioned a number of credibility issues regarding the Applicants of this below water table gravel pit. Some of these included Viewscapes and Noise Studies and the flaws in them. For example inaccurate identification of the houses has occurred with 1127 and 1129 Jigs Hollow Rd. homes. Also stockpiles of gravel identified in one report as 8 metres high end up in another report stated as 20 metres high. Some of the Viewscapes are very wrong that were produced for 230 and 260 Golf Course Rd..

Gordon also indicated that water elevations are different between presented studies. Both 1041 Crooks Tract and 1129 Jigs Hollow Rd. have groundwater elevations several metres different. This also speaks to the 30 year average rainfall in the area compared to the rainfall in the 2010-2015 period. The last five years has seen just barely half of the normal rainfall yet the groundwater levels have risen a couple of metres or so. Clearly something was amiss with the readings back in 2010. Gordon also indicated the elevations of wells on Peel St., Jigs Hollow Rd. and the two drinking wells (C05, C06) supplying the Golf Course Rd. subdivision in Conestogo and just a few hundred metres away from this gravel pit. All of them are around 300 metres above sea level which also corresponds to the elevation near the bottom of the deep lake proposed for the gravel pit. Mr. Haywood then asked the question as to whether or not Preston Sand & Gravel, contrary to their claims, were actually going to be extracting sand and gravel from the deep overburden aquifer which supplies nearby drinking wells. His second last comment was in regards to the Dahm Gravel Pit berm failure in 2013 and the resulting massive fish kill. His final comment was that the Hunder Pit decision outside Conestogo denied a gravel pit license due to the proponent's plan to replace Class 1 soils with a lower designation of soil quality. In the Jigs Hollow case the proponent wants to replace the highest agricultural soils classification with a water filled hole in the ground and call it a lake. This is unacceptable for many reasons and the soils degradation is but one.

Further comments from this meeting last night will come tomorrow.

P.S. "Rain" in the title is not misspelled (ie. reign). It refers to the facts and truth being rained down upon the proponents.

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