Saturday, November 19, 2011

Proposed Mega-Quarry to face tougher review

A month before facing voters in the October 6 Ontario provincial election, the governing Liberals decided to require a more stringent approval process for a controversial proposal to dig a massive quarry in a sensitive environmental area near Toronto.

As reported in the July 2011 edition of Socialist Action, the proposed 2,300 acre aggregate quarry in Melancthon, Ontario was originally slated for the relatively lax approval process of the Ministry of Natural Resources. This soft-gloves treatment sparked widespread criticism and protests. Ultimately the government relented. It announced on September 1 that the project would be subjected to a comprehensive environmental assessment under the province’s environment protection legislation – a process that could take months or years.

However, this development does not mean that the quarry project has been scrapped. In fact, the project’s proponent, the
U.S. hedge fund-backed Highland Companies, has been aggressively buying up farmland and cutting down vegetation. According to "Melancthon quarry unites diverse communities", an article by Meg Borthwick, posted on on September 23, this has the convenient effect of deterring protected bird species from nesting on the proposed site and potentially stalling the project.

Activists and the local community continue to galvanize opposition to the quarry. The “Foodstock” festival, presented by the Canadian Chefs' Congress on October 16, drew 28,000 people, including such notables as the musical group Barenaked Ladies and renowned chef Jamie Kennedy. They attended a festival of food, music and speeches to generate support and raise funds for the campaign against the quarry project.

Socialists demand a thorough and transparent environmental assessment of the proposed Melancthon quarry, with full input from the local community, environmental groups and First Nations' peoples. We stand with all Ontarians who will be impacted, and those who have already been affected.

> The article above was written by Eric Kupka.

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