Birth of a Protest

This spring, when The Highland Companies filed its application for a 2,316-acre limestone quarry, a small rural protest caught the big wave.

June 16, 2011 | | Environment

Remarkably, Carl Cosack is not angry. Naturally, he’s upset about an American-based corporation’s audacious proposal to blast a hole 20 storeys deep and remove a billion tonnes of limestone from prime agricultural land near his own farm.

Cosack’s life was busy enough already. He runs Peace Valley Ranch, a 100-head cattle operation, and Rawhide Adventures, “Ontario’s last western-style cattle ranch left standing,” where people come from all around to get a good horse under them and learn how to be cowboys – and will continue to come if the quarry traffic doesn’t snarl up every highway access.

As it has for many of his neighbours, fighting the quarry has taken over his life. And this spring, after The Highland Companies filed its official application to mine 2,316 acres of limestone in Melancthon Township, things went into hyperdrive. For Cosack, the battle essentially became an unpaid 50-hour-a-week job. Unanswered calls and machinery and fences in disrepair on his 1,200 acres are signs of the thousands of hours he’s spent researching, attending public meetings, speaking to media and writing midnight emails as vice-chair of the North Dufferin Agricultural and Community Task Force (NDACT) over the past two-and-a-half years.

“You grow up and things sort of just happen to you,” says Carl. “As you get to be a little bit older you see that if you engage you can actually make a difference – your actions and your words and your participation are meaningful. People are truly trying to reclaim some decision-making process here.”

Cattle rancher and agri-tourism entrepreneur Carl Cosack, 52, is the cowboy-philosopher of the Stop the Quarry cause and a late convert to citizen engagement. “You grow up and things sort of just happen to you. As you get to be a little bit older you see that if you engage you can actually make a difference – your actions and your words and your participation are meaningful. People are truly trying to reclaim some decision-making process here.” Photo Jason Van Bruggen

Cattle rancher and agri-tourism entrepreneur Carl Cosack, 52, is the cowboy-philosopher of the Stop the Quarry cause and a late convert to citizen engagement. Photo Jason Van Bruggen

Yes, on the surface things look bleak. The Highland Companies is a huge force in a small rural township that lacks a significant population to oppose it. In total, the company bought up close to 8,000 acres of prime agricultural land in north Dufferin, most of it in Melancthon with some in neighbouring Mulmur. It now owns the largest potato farming operation in the province, making it the most powerful player in the industry that some of its fiercest opponents depend on for their livelihoods.

The company is backed by the Boston-based Baupost Group, a $22-billion hedge fund. Its registered lobbyists in Queen’s Park include Dalton McGuinty’s former chief of staff and a former attorney general. And it is applying for a licence in a province whose policies and laws, notably the Aggregate Resources Act, are widely criticized as biased in favour of the industry – and poorly implemented at that.

It could be a recipe for cynicism and disempowerment. But Cosack remains positive and respectful.

“It’s all good,” he says of the fight and all he’s poured into it. The experience has been, if anything, uplifting – because everywhere he looks he finds support, offers of help, enthusiasm and affirmation of the worthiness of the cause. All signs, he insists, that the quarry’s opponents can and must win.

Cosack drove four of his 33 horses downtown to Queen’s Park for the Walk to Stop the Quarry protest.

Cosack drove four of his 33 horses downtown to Queen’s Park for the Walk to Stop the Quarry protest.

Consider Earth Day. On April 22, Cosack drove four of his 33 horses downtown to Queen’s Park for the Walk to Stop the Quarry protest. Curiously, you’re allowed to graze horses at the legislature, as long as you don’t ride – only police can do that. Getting permission to park a trailer in the reserved MPP parking spaces on a Good Friday proved difficult, however, and Cosack got the runaround until he mentioned to a security chief that he lived near the Pine River – one of the trout streams that originates deep in the proposed quarry land.

Then it was, “Oh, Pine River Valley! I ride my bike up all through there, that’s great! Of course you can park, no problem!”

And that’s what it’s been like all along.
Strangers become allies.
NDACT meetings always run out of chairs.

Downtown, farm animals attract attention, and Cosack was stunned by how many passersby who stopped to chat had heard of the quarry. They had heard NDACT representatives interviewed on CBC, or followed consumer advocate Dale Goldhawk’s repeated coverage on Zoomer Radio, or read about it in The Star.

The Walk to Stop the Quarry

The Walk to Stop the Quarry. Photo Jason Van Bruggen

The Walk to Stop the Quarry arrives at Jim and Marian’s Black’s potato farm in Melancthon. The walkers left Queen’s Park on their 120-kilometre trek on Earth Day and arrived at their destination five days later. Supporters joined them at various stretches along the way. Dr. John Bacher (in safety vest), researcher, Preservation of Agricultural Lands Society (PALS), walked all five days. To his right is Danny Beaton, Turtle Clan Mohawk, who initiated the Walk. And to Bacher’s left is Patricia Watts, who performed opening ceremonies at Queen’s Park, closing ceremonies in Melancthon, and water ceremonies at every creek, stream and river the walkers crossed.

So many people. That’s what Cosack finds uplifting. The issue is a natural attention-getter, he says, “because the overwhelming truth is that this is not a good project in a good area, and therefore it’s easy for people to join.”

It’s as if by dropping the spectre of a quarry on this place, this magical high point of southern Ontario from which rivers flow south and north to the Great Lakes, and deeming it to have a sparse rural population and no features worthy of protection, Highland started a wave of land-love and moral outrage that swept all the way to Queen’s Park and shows no sign of slowing down.

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  • Cosack has been riding that wave ever since 2008, when the small group of farmers most directly affected by the quarry – “folks who had their head out of the sand early,” as Cosack puts it – organized and commissioned their own studies to find out what was behind all the suspicious tree clearing, well drilling and house demolition on Highland’s newly acquired holdings. In January 2009, they formed the North Dufferin Agricultural and Community Taskforce, inviting neighbours in next-door Mulmur to join them.

    That was the pebble in the pond. From there the ripples spread, first through the networks of Mulmur’s well-connected and politically engaged weekenders, where it quickly drew the support of two established groups, CORE and (MC)2 (Conserve Our Rural Environment and the Mono Mulmur Citizens’ Coalition). Then it was onto the corridors of power and influence in Toronto.

    Bill French (right) and son Brian grow rhubarb, peas and other vegetables for the Toronto market at Lennox Farm, beside the quarry site. Bill’s father farmed in Brampton and sold when subdivisions and golf courses moved in. A generation before, his grandfather farmed on Islington Avenue in what is now built-up Toronto. Bill feels lucky to have found this 3oo-acre patch of paradise near Reddickville in 1988 after combing the province for the best soil. Bill hopes Brian and his one-year-old son won’t be the next generation to pick up and move: “There’s no other place to go.” Photo Jason Van Bruggen

    Bill French (right) and son Brian. Photo Jason Van Bruggen

    Bill French (right) and son Brian grow rhubarb, peas and other vegetables for the Toronto market at Lennox Farm, beside the quarry site. Bill’s father farmed in Brampton and sold when subdivisions and golf courses moved in. A generation before, his grandfather farmed on Islington Avenue in what is now built-up Toronto. Bill feels lucky to have found this 3oo-acre patch of paradise near Reddickville in 1988 after combing the province for the best soil. Bill hopes Brian and his one-year-old son won’t be the next generation to pick up and move: “There’s no other place to go.”

    The two Mulmur groups united with NDACT to create the Citizens’ Alliance for a Sustainable Environment (CAUSE) expressly to oppose the mega-quarry on a strategic, beyond-local scale. The list of Mulmur academics, lawyers, developers and business executives publicly backing CAUSE suggests a formidable counterpoint to Highland’s imposing PR and financial clout.

    That list includes Harvey Kolodny, professor emeritus at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management and president of the Dufferin Arts Council; Diane Lister, former CEO of the Hospital for Sick Children Foundation and current president and executive director of the Royal Ontario Museum’s board of governors, and David Patterson, founder and CEO of the investment firm Northwater Capital.

    From the beginning NDACT knew that they had to win supporters outside of Dufferin, and Patterson more than anyone provided an entrée to the city by hosting after-work meetings between NDACT and various “well-connected folks” in his company’s Bay Street boardroom. Picture Cosack in cowboy gear and Melancthon potato farmer David Vander Zaag eloquently presenting the threat to Melancthon’s land and water to downtown suits.

    People were “just in awe, they had no idea of the size and scope. They left way better informed and pledging to do their thing,” says Cosack.

    That thing, Cosack suspects, included spurring the wider media coverage just when the anti-quarry movement most needed it. The Highland Companies filed its official application on March 11. In more than 3,000 pages, the document attempts to lay out in scrupulous detail every aspect of the proposal as required by the Aggregate Resources Act.

    For opponents of the quarry, it was a good thing, giving them something to sink their teeth into after years of anticipation. But the strict rules of the aggregate act gave them only 45 days to do so. And to Highland’s distinct advantage, day 45 was the Tuesday after the Easter long weekend, meaning any objections mailed within the last several days of the comment period would miss the cut-off.

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  • Rallying the public to submit objections gained urgency in the face of the provincial government’s apparent complacency. In February, Melancthon’s mayor and deputy mayor had met with the minister of Natural Resources, Linda Jeffrey, to share the township’s extensive concerns. Her advice: get constituents thinking about rehabilitation, “because this will not be going back to agriculture, but maybe you could get a nice golf course.”

    The minister’s careless response left Mayor Bill Hill with the impression “that the ink was already on the rubber stamp.” He wrote an open letter of complaint to Dalton McGuinty that became a call to action – even inspiring one Pine River resident, Dick Byford, to hand-deliver an old golf ball to Jeffrey’s Queen’s Park office.

    Native environmentalist Danny Beaton

    “Native environmentalist Danny Beaton. Photo Jane Fellowes

    “The water is the blood of our mother the earth,” says native environmentalist Danny Beaton, whose Six Nations of the Grand River reservation lies downstream of the quarry site. Beaton led the five-day, 120-kilometre Walk to Stop the Quarry as a callout to citizens everywhere that this issue goes way beyond the local: “Everything in creation has a duty and the humans’ duty is to be a voice for the earth… to give thanks. Only now, giving thanks is not enough. We need to defend the earth.”

    One of the Bay Street meetings, on March 31, attracted First Nations environmentalist Danny Beaton, who has led several multi-day protest walks for water-related issues. “We need to have a walk right away,” Beaton declared. His friend Brian Danniels volunteered to organize it and within days the date was set for what would be a landmark media event.

    On April 22, the Walk to Stop the Quarry kicked off with Maude Barlow and the Council of Canadians, and the Sierra Club of Ontario among the many farm and environmental organizations lending their support. Three hundred supporters – and Cosack’s four horses – saw the walkers off from Queen’s Park on their five-day trek to Melancthon.

    The Walk held press conferences in every town, and by its conclusion at Jim and Marian Black’s potato farm on the Tuesday of the public comment deadline, hundreds of thousands of people had heard about it. Dale Goldhawk was there reporting in person. CBC Radio’s As It Happens started covering the issue regularly. Cheers rose up in the hills when CBC host Carol Off took Linda Jeffrey to task for her golf course gaffe.

    The local landscape-loving painters, writers, musicians, radio and television hosts, producers and ad execs pitched in. TV host Dini Petty spoke at an NDACT meeting last year. In May, Homemakers magazine published an impassioned anti-quarry blog by freelance journalist and veteran radio producer Donna Tranquada.

    And, as the social media universe lit up, Margaret Atwood tweeted to her 180,000 followers, “Mega-quarry in ONTARIO will blow up Escarpment, trash clean water… Yikes X 10! Write McGuinty!”

    Thanks in part to Carl Cosack’s teenage daughter, the quarry protest established its own Facebook site, and now has a Twitter feed and a YouTube channel too.

    According to CAUSE, more than 2,000 letters of objection have flowed into the MNR from individuals, neighbouring municipalities, and organizations such as the Dufferin Federation of Agriculture, the David Suzuki Foundation, Lake Ontario Waterkeepers, and numerous members of the Unitarian Church, which operates a children’s camp near the quarry site.

    Ralph Armstrong and his wife Mary Lynne have a 200-acre, old-style mixed farm that their family has worked since 1853;

    Ralph Armstrong and his wife Mary Lynne have a 200-acre, old-style mixed farm that their family has worked since 1853;

    The quarry protest started with those farmers whose land abuts the pit and whose water wells will mix with the pit’s 6oo-million-litre daily draw. Ralph Armstrong and his wife Mary Lynne have a 200-acre, old-style mixed farm that their family has worked since 1853; their five daughters are sixth-generation. Armstrong says, “We’re talking about two essentials of life here, the soil and the water. If they change the water in any way it will affect farming here.” The Armstrongs typify this fight’s unlikely activists, says NDACT vice-chair Carl Cosack: “Ralph is about as quiet a guy as you would ever find. For him to go out to council meetings and to become a board member of NDACT just blows my mind.”

    Largely through the work of a dedicated fly fisherman named Rob Krueger, the issue also made its way onto online fishing forums and attracted the concern of yet another demographic, prompting an objection letter from the influential Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters. Stop the Quarry signs even popped up on lawns in downtown Toronto.

    On April 21, local Conservative MPP Sylvia Jones introduced Cosack and a representative from the Council of Canadians to the legislature and she has called for an environmental assessment of the proposal (something that is not required by the Aggregate Resources Act). NDP leader Andrea Horwath presented the premier with a petition demanding an extension to the public comment deadline. And local Conservative MP David Tilson has weighed in with a letter to his party’s environment minister suggesting the impact of the quarry on freshwater fisheries may warrant a federal environmental assessment.

    Avid fly-fisherman Rob Krueger frequents the Pine River

    Avid fly-fisherman Rob Krueger frequents the Pine River. Photo Jason Van Bruggen

    Avid fly-fisherman Rob Krueger frequents the Pine River, which rises near Horning’s Mills and bubbles over the Niagara Escarpment and into the Nottawasaga. When anglers learned that the quarry footprint covers more than half of the Upper Pine’s catchment, they thought of the river’s native brook trout and steelhead. Krueger rallied support on online fishing forums and prompted the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters to file an objection. He was also one of 300 attendees pressing Highland Companies consultants for answers at the public open house in Horning’s Mills last April, and wrote afterward, “I heard a lot of ‘we will do this’ answers, but when pressed on how…there was a troubling absence of details.”

    Linda Jeffrey later announced a 76-day extension for comments on the Environmental Bill of Rights Registry (though these are distinguished from official objections). Dalton McGuinty sent letters to concerned citizens’ assuring them that, “We are still in the early stages of the licensing application process, and no approval has yet been given for a quarry to proceed in Melancthon Township.”

    A message from Jeffrey now appears on the MNR’s home page acknowledging “the significant number of responses received so far regarding this application.”

    Taken all together, says Cosack, it’s proof “that if you engage you can actually make a difference. Your actions and your words and your participation is meaningful. There is power in people.”

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  • Now that the media blitz ignited by the Walk to Stop the Quarry and the intensity of the 45-day comment period is over, CAUSE and its supporters are girding for a protracted and multi-fronted battle.

    The extended period for public comment ends on July 11. After that The Highland Companies has two years to review and respond to all the objections raised during the initial comment period, to which recipients must reply in just 20 days or else their objections will be considered resolved.

    If unresolved objections remain, MNR may refer the application to an Ontario Municipal Board hearing.

    Dave Vander Zaag on his Melancthon potato farm. Photo Jason Van Bruggen

    More at home on his Melancthon potato farm than in front of the cameras during the Earth Day rally at Queen’s Park , Dave Vander Zaag has nevertheless become the unofficial spokesman for Honeywood loam – the area’s famed soil that drew him to purchase 1,ooo acres and settle his family here. “Is this good land-use planning?” asks the father of four. “Why place the largest quarry in Canada on precious agricultural lands only one hour from the largest urban centre and food consumer?”

    Meanwhile, at the municipal level, Melancthon has deadlines to rule on requests for zoning bylaw and official plan amendments submitted by The Highland Companies. CAUSE and NDACT are filing requests for official plan amendments of their own. They are pushing for specialty crop designation for Melancthon’s famous Honeywood Loam soil.

    They are also continuing to push the provincial government on the matter of an environmental assessment, as well as working to block Highland’s attempts to purchase the railway to Owen Sound from Dufferin and Grey counties.

    And they are planning more events and outreach activities to sustain public interest, build momentum and raise funds, including a golf tournament and a “paint-in” at Carl Cosack’s ranch on July 3. Co-organizers of the latter, Sandi Wong and Martha Bull, envision a ’60s-style sit-in as a way to express a value of the landscape that tends to get lost in the scientific and policy jargon, namely the natural beauty that surely motivates many of the protesters.

    Says Wong: “The paint-in is in reaction to the picture painted by Highland: that this area is a wasteland, devoid of culture, heritage, nature, or anything worth preserving. We want artists to show how wrong they are!”

    Whether CAUSE, NDACT and their supporters will succeed in stopping the quarry remains to be seen, but with their successes to date, the snowballing media interest and popular support, the momentum appears to be on their side.

    Still as anti-quarry activist Harvey Kolodny cautions: “Many a group has appeared before the OMB supremely confident in the righteousness of their cause – only to lose.”

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  • For cowboy philosopher Carl Cosack, though, there’s no room for such doubts. In meetings and interviews he relentlessly shares his belief that all NDACT and its supporters have to do to win is tell the truth. Public opinion and people’s sense of what’s right will take care of the rest.

    To support his confidence in that belief he points to what he calls The Highland Companies’ “utter failure” to win over the over the community with its slick public relations campaign. Cosack claims he could write a “how-not-to” book based on the company’s PR missteps.

    But to be fair, there’s probably no right way to sell such a massive hole in the ground, or for a foreign company to properly demonstrate respect for a community whose land it wants to blow to smithereens and ship away, by the millions and millions of tons, for profit.

    More Info

    About the Author More by Tim Shuff

    Tim Shuff is a freelance writer.

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    1. They don’t call the area “Headwaters” for no reason. The quarry site is at the highest point in southwestern Ontario and all water flows downhill from there. Many of the downstream communities – Toronto included – pride themselves on their water quality, which percolates through the limestone in the aquifer and comes out crystal clear. Well guess what folks: that 600,000,000 litres per day (equal to half of Toronto’s total daily water consumption!) won’t be filtered any more. It will become surface water, spewed out by the Highland Companies’ pumps and picking up every pollutant it can dissolve on its journey to the city’s taps. So what can you do? Join 10,000 other concerned taxpayers at Foodstock, being held on October 16th at the corner of County Road 124 and Sideroad 20. You will be treated to food prepared by 70 of Canada’s best chefs that you will remember literally for the rest of your life. This for less than the cost of an average restaurant lunch while you help to preserve our water and save the land that feeds us. This is IMPORTANT folks. This is for your children and grandchildren. As for me – who has no children or grandchildren – it’s more personal: the bastards bulldozed and burnt my home, as a message to the others who won’t sell out (my health forced me to sell). That’s the kind of people you’re dealing with. But you don’t have to roll over. Google “FOODSTOCK”, get the details and come out on Sunday for the best food you’ve ever eaten. The best. I promise.

      William Perry from Toronto, formerly Melancthon, on the quarry site on Oct 14, 2011 at 12:05 pm | Reply

    2. This MEGA quarry if it goes ahead will have a terrible affect on our planet!!! If this happens it can never be repaired, I don’t understand how our government can even entertain letting a them go ahead with these plans
      Its all about the bucks!!!!! I don’t get why the farmers even sold the land in the first place??
      Really I believe this land was a gift to us to look after and for what I see the only ones that know how to do this are our native friends.

      linda wood from southgate on Sep 7, 2011 at 9:07 pm | Reply

    3. We now have another MEGA project to worry about. Just received on Friday notice of a MEGA wind project, about SIX TIMES the size of the mega quarry and overlapping the same area. This 100 MW wind producer will dominate the landscape, kill hundreds of birds yearly, further impact the local environment and — perhaps — create even more dust and pollution from the construction and the ninety-foot blades turning to churn up nice limestone dust from the quarry. Again, local government and residents have no real say, although there are four PUBLIC meetings planned. Details are at a protest or civilian voice site designed to inform on this issue. Just one more thing to worry about!
      Let’s STOP the quarry and STOP the Mega Dufferin Wind Power project too. It’s biggest risk will, again, be to farmers.

      Derek Armstrong from Shelburne on Aug 24, 2011 at 3:57 pm | Reply

    4. I enjoyed the article very much. It was both thought provoking and a bit frightening. Are we really prepared to accept the damage to the area, the known and unknown risks associated with such a project? I hope not.
      One of the most typical justifications for such an undertaking is that the Province of Ontario needs this material for buildings, roads etc. There is some merit to this argument IF the material are solely for consumption within the province, perhaps Canada.
      I was disappointed that the article does not emphasize that they are in the process of purchasing a railroad to Owen Sound. Does this not lead to the conclusion they will be destroying OUR land,water and environment only to ship material abroad? How does this project really benefit the people of Ontario, this being the case?

      Nick Green from Orton, Ontario on Aug 13, 2011 at 10:38 am | Reply

    5. Lets keep fighting this quarry….Please don’t stop, don’t get tired, don’t give up…it will be worth the fight in the end…Our land is so precious…we need to keep our land for growing our foods and our wild life….not have it taken away…. turn our water into poison and homes worthless. So please don’t stop the fight. Let the U.S. company wreck there own land and roads. They say they are friends to Canada , well this sure doesn’t look like it. Leave our dirt where it is and move on. DON’T STOP, DON’T BECOME TIRED EVERYONE COUNTS…..FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT!! Save our land.

      Donna from Grand Valley, On on Jul 14, 2011 at 8:22 am | Reply

    6. Thanks for this powerfully moving revelation of the issue, packed with people connections. The in-depth coverage and accompanying photos were instrumental for visualizing the impacts, illustrating the interrelated reality that makes this a crucial concern, and helping to reveal the monumental task of the defence demanded and undertaken. This seems a poignant reminder of the struggle that went into saving Clayoquot Sound but I feel exposure through excellent articles like this will greatly assist resolution without need for those extreme actions. People power + press = SUCCESS! With such great geographical distance separating me from my neighbours this has been a heartwarming introduction to the many passionate people protecting my backyard… thank you to all involved!

      Jayne Wilson from Columbia-Shuswap, BC on Jul 4, 2011 at 12:21 pm | Reply

    7. Thanks, Tim, for an excellent article about the fierce battle to stop the Highland Companies from destroying vital agricultural land and threatening our fresh water resources in perpetuity. Country and city are uniting against this reckless proposal as the Ontario election draws closer. I think we should be asking every candidate who wants our vote to state their position on the mega quarry. One of the many questions we could ask is: Will your party promise that there will be no quarries of any size on prime agricultural land? The parties’ answers should determine the outcome on October 6th.

      Tess Mansfield from Mulmur on Jul 2, 2011 at 10:38 am | Reply

    8. What a wonderful article, Tim. It’s sad that the citizens of Ontario need to fight for their water and their land, but I have to admit, this potential environmental disaster has brought-out qualities in my neighbours that make me proud to live in their midst. The fight is far from over, but at least now we know, thanks to articles such as this one, that we WILL be heard, and that we will NOT stand-by when unabashed greed attempts to destroy our resources….

      gail from Shelburne on Jul 1, 2011 at 6:16 pm | Reply

    9. Tim;

      Thank you for such a great article in the “in The Hills” magazine. I can not imagine the environmental disaster if this pit is allowed to go in. We have farmed up here for 24 years and when we were looking to purchase farms this area had the perfect soil and climate suited to our crops. As Bill said in the article “there is no where else to go” and we always wanted to remain here and call this our “home”. Thank you for keeping the word in everyone’s face and keeping it on their minds. It took me a while to “get it” and I am going to live beside this mega quarry if it is allowed to go in. I understand people’s apathy saying “it is a done deal already” but PEOPLE IT IS NOT A DONE DEAL YET!!!!!!!!! Keep writing great articles, spread the word and send videos. I know the one of the blasting being done was the one that made me have my AHA moment. It opened by eyes.
      Thanks again.

      Diane French from Shelburne, Ontario (beside and across from proposed pit on Jul 1, 2011 at 11:05 am | Reply

    10. The Caledon Coalition did an amazing job. It took about $2 million and about 12 years, but they stuck with it. We all need to take a look at their endurance, persistence and the fact that they won. They are true role models for all organizations fighting this type of disaster and I know that NDACT and CAUSE have watched that process closely. I believe that Caledon is organizing other municipalities who are leading aggregate producers to work with the government to try to bring some balance to the process. Again thanks to the Caledon Coalition, who I understand (and I am paraphrasing) were told by James Dick early in the process that the opposition would just fade away and the quarry would go through.

      Ken Phillips from Melancthon on Jul 1, 2011 at 10:36 am | Reply

    11. The great and amazing thing about the power of the people is watching each person do SOMETHING. With today’s online technology you can literally watch the ripples of action extend further and further each day. The proposed Melancthon quarry is so outrageous, so offensive to Canadian sensibility that it is not difficult to get people to act — from adding friends to the “Stop the Quarry!” group in Facebook, to meeting with their MPP. Of course, this fight will not be easy — a quick review of the Flamborough fight has shown me that, but I have faith. Site 41 was VERY inspiring. And the Rockfort quarry. We just have to be as tenacious as those who are going after $$$ profit. Our profit will be in landscape, food and clean water today, tomorrow and for the next generation.

      Donna Baylis from Creemore, ON on Jul 1, 2011 at 6:59 am | Reply

    12. Great article, but I am surprised and disappointed that there is no mention of The Coalition of Concerned Citizen and their recent battle and defeat of local aggregate company James Dick in their Rockfort Quarry application. I am equally disappointed that the CCC doesn’t even make mention of the Melancthon quarry on their web site. Environmental issues don’t stop at the imaginary borders we’ve drawn up on a map.

      Matthew from Caledon on Jun 29, 2011 at 6:37 am | Reply

    13. Tim has been on this issue since the beginning. Thank you Mr. Shuff.

      Ken Phillips from Shelburne, ON on Jun 28, 2011 at 11:15 pm | Reply

    14. Well said , Tim Shuff!
      This is the grandaddy of bad ideas.
      This would effect the entire local infrastructure, the water of all of South Western Ontario and eat up some of the best farmland at a time when concerns about feeding the growing population are coming to the fore.
      This quarry is the first step in turning our environment into a sci-fi wasteland. Surely we are smarter than that.
      Why not put the quarry in a place that has no fertile soil and no growing season to speak of?
      The Highland Companies would be smart to sell the land back to local farmers and residents now and cut their losses. This quarry will never be a tolerable idea.
      And if they are that rich let them build their own railroads and highways to transport their booty from a more suitable site.

      Bronwyn fitz-James on Jun 28, 2011 at 11:19 am | Reply

    15. Let’s keep fighting. We need good Canadian grown food and pure water for our future generations.Don’t let a foreign company rob us of our precious Natural Resources.

      Wayne Patterson from Niagara on Jun 27, 2011 at 11:37 pm | Reply

    16. Excellent article! Shuff eloquently and effectively captures the spirit and momentum of the NO MEGA QUARRY movement. My only comment is that the fact that Highland claims that the quarry will have to be ‘dewatered’ to the tune of 600,000,000 litres of water PER DAY comes late in the article, almost as an afterthought. This is the single biggest issue with this proposed extraction, though of course it may not be for the people living on fertile farmland that could one day be a deep, rocky chasm.
      ~ Carl Michener

      Carl Michener from Alliston, ON on Jun 25, 2011 at 6:59 am | Reply

    17. I am honored to be asked by the farmers of Melancthon and Mulmur Townships to join them in their struggle to protect their water and farmland from the proposed mega quarry byTthe Highland Companies, privately backed by Boston multi-billion dollar hedge fund. As a native/indigenous man of the Turtle Clan Mohawk Nation, I have had a chance to listen to many community citizens of Dufferin County to learn of the concerns to the threat to farmland and clean water supply.
      Since hearing those concerns I have had a chance to view the document and research by the Suzuki Foundation. The location of this mega qarry is near the headwaters of many major rivers: the Grand, Pine, Nottawasaga, Saugeen, Noisy, Boyne, and Mad. Beneath these rivers lie the pure flowing aquifers that are a drinking source to surrounding towns and cities for at least a million people. Second to the issue of fresh water supply is the quality of soil available to the farmers of the area.
      This type of soil is called Honeywood silt loam and the Ontario Federation of Agriculture has asked the Township of Melancthon to classify the region as a Specialty Crops Area, a designation that would afford the land the highest priority of protection for ongoing crop production. Looking at the scope of such an open-pit mega quarry in the heartland of farming country and its impact on production of a food supply for our future generations seems odd, even insane, to me to put it mildly. In fact, the development of this mega quarry is a negative and serious problem to society and farmland.
      A positive business would not destroy productive agricultural land or activity that sustains life and people. The quarry is so negative it would alter the headwaters of at least five rivers that many species depend on: fox, coyote, wolf, beaver, lynx, rabbit, deer, ducks, geese, turkey, pike, pickerel, trout, salmon, turtles, salamanders, snakes, and many others who rely on these rivers and expect us to be their voice as is the duty of us Human Beings.
      It is obvious to many that this quarry would create a wasteland and dust in a rural farmland setting. It can poison the drinking water for our children and our children’s children and their children, so we must think of protecting their future. Our elders say we must think Seven Generations ahead! This is our way of life and it must not be changed for profit and your way of life must not be changed for profit. Profit is not supposed to destroy drinking water; profit is not supposed to destroy prime farmland.
      If we poison our food supply we will have to eat it, if we poison our water we will have to drink it, but our children will have to as well . Are they supposed to suffer from our mistakes, our neglect our negativity against life? Is this kind of crime allowed to happen in the history of our civilization with all the lawyers, police, army and justice in Canada? We need laws and agendas enforced to protect life! Who will protect Mother Earth and her Blood? We cannot eat limestone or drink mud! We need our fresh water supply protected!!!
      The researchers at the David Suzuki Foundation are professional scientists who specialize in data and facts about life. Are we supposed to ignore the facts from scientists; are we suppose to ignore the warning of our farmers; are we supposed to ignore the citizens of Ontario?
      Are we supposed to ignore the native people who have an understanding and connection to Mother Earth?
      The hole that will be dug to extract the product for China and Boston etc… will be 20 stories deep and possibly 7500 acres wide, one of the largest open pit mines in Canada. Will Ontario allow such a monster to rape and kill life? As a native environmentalist I urge the Assembly of First Nations and Chiefs of Ontario to get involved in this struggle now and demand a stop to this development and all mega projects on the farmlands of Ontario and water supply!
      As a Human Being on this sacred journey of life I ask Minister Linda Jeffery and Honorable Dalton McGuinty to stop this mega quarry before things escalate because this project goes against life!
      When the people look into the sacred treaties of the Great Iroquois and Ojibwa Nations you will see that we were promised fresh water and game as long as the grass grows and the sun shines. The quarry will be an attack on our relations and our way of life. We should not make the land unreal. Limestone will not feed our unborn, limestone will not produce a rich food supply for our families in the future, and this mining will be a form of eco-genocide!
      These are my thoughts, my prayer is for life, we belong to Mother Earth and Mother Earth is terribly wounded. Our old elders, chiefs and Clan Mothers are saying over and over we must protect her! My uncle taught me a great lesson in life; he said ‘‘is if you are awake you cannot deny the truth, everything is alive and everything has a Spirit, our Relatives and Relations are our allies ‘’
      For Mother Earth and My Ancestors,

      Danny Beaton,
      Turtle Clan Mohawk

      Danny Beaton on Jun 16, 2011 at 9:09 am | Reply

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