By Pamela Vanmeer – March 19, 20180114
KAWARTHA LAKES- “We are in a beautiful area and all of a sudden it will be gone,” Ruth Pillsworth says. “People don’t know unfortunately because we are a seasonal area a lot of people aren’t aware of the issue that when they come to the Bobcaygeon area it’s not going to be the same anymore.”
Pillsworth is one of about 11 residents who are in the middle of a “David and Goliath” battle to stop a mega quarry from coming to the area. The group who call themselves “Citizens for Responsible Aggregate Development” say the Dewdney Mountain Quarry will irrevocably change the Bobcaygeon area and not for the better. “Am I going to be wanting to fight the trucks, am I going to be wanting to go fishing, oh wait there may not be any fish left here.” Pillsworth says.
The 432 acre quarry was approved by the Ministry of Natural Resources in 2012 and the Municipality of Trent Lakes (Peterborough County at the time) voted in favour of an Official Plan Amendment to allow for the zoning for the Quarry. The one, lone dissenter was councillor Bev Matthews who is now the Mayor of Trent Lakes. “No one is happy when they hear news of another quarry coming to our area.” Matthews told Kawartha 411. Our roads, safety, and our quiet sanctuaries are all compromised. We know that quarries are needed, we all use the products that come from rocks but when is enough, enough?”
There are already 35 quarries in the Bobcaygeon/Buckhorn area and four more being proposed.
Pillsworth feels that the municipality at the time didn’t want to foot the bill to fight the quarry so they let the residents do it. “The Mayor at the time was quoted as saying, better they fight it on their dime than mine, which spoke to them feeling that they would be having to go through the OMB process if they denied it, so better leave us citizens to do that.” Almost 500 people showed up to a public meeting at the Bowling Alley in Bobcaygeon in 2012 to discuss the quarry. The overwhelming majority of residents were against it according to the citizens group.
At it’s peak, the proposed quarry located on Ledge Road, North of Bobcaygeon, could have up to 61 big rigs per hour, hauling rock and stone from the site. (6 days a week) That’s one tractor trailer per minute, on average. Pillsworth says 80% of those would go through Bobcaygeon and the rest toward Buckhorn. “How is that going to affect our beautiful little village?”
Becki Jory is also a concerned citizen and says she chose to live in the country for the peace and serenity.”We chose to live here as opposed to in the city, you know when we made that cognitive choice to live up a back road, to live in that setting where it’s quiet, away from all those noises.”
“The Dewdney Mountain quarry also has another huge negative because it will travel through a residential area and is just north of 2 large subdivisions…Alpine Village and Pirates Glen.” says Matthews.
When the full loads are hauled through the City of Kawartha Lakes on Highway 36 they will be running alongside the farm vehicles and Mennonite horse drawn buggies not to mention the seniors. 76 year old Darlene Sheehey says she is worried about driving to doctors appointments and emergencies. “I worry about travelling on roads with one of these big trucks every minute. How will ambulances get through in case of emergency?” According to Pillsworth the cost of the wear and tear on the main roads will be borne by the taxpayer with Dewdney agreeing to pick up the tab on the “haul route” on Ledge Road.
Our request for comment from the lawyer for Dewdney Mountain Farms were not answered as of our deadline. The company has told the OMB in the past they would provide noise mitigation to residents along the haul route who they feel would be adversely affected.
A final appeal with the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) hinges on that one issue. “What that means is Dewdney is saying they would put up noise mitigation to keep it at a certain level the residents could live with, but that would mean they would have to go on their property and we were able to bring that issue up a divisional court.” Pillsworth explains. “They said there was no permission from any of the residents to have this put on their property so they felt that was a reasonable error and that was enough to send it back to the OMB.”
Pillsworth says the proposal would mean putting up the type of concrete walls you see along the 401 and only for four residences.
Although it’s the noise that might save the day for Pillsworth she says it’s just one of the concerns residents have. “The wildlife is a concern, there’s a significant deer wintering yard and the fish sanctuary nearby.” according to Pillsworth. The Provincial Fish Sanctuary is 180 metres away from the proposed quarry but the MNR only looks at 120m so it’s 60 metres shy.”
In the 1940’s the Ontario Federation of Anglers realized they needed to know more about the muskellunge. Nogies Creek Fish Sanctuary was set up as a “muskie” research station. A fellow by the name of Dr. E. J. Crossman worked as an undergraduate student from U of T at the Nogies Creek Fish Sanctuary from 1951 to 1953 and from 1974 to 1980. Dr. Crossman trained 13 university students who earned 4 degrees and had 17 publications. A total of 26 students received valuable training a total of 8 post-graduate degrees were earned for research at Nogies Creek according to a book documenting the history of the area.
Dr. Eric Sager, PhD , Ecological Restoration Program Fleming College/Trent University, routinely takes field courses along the river to demonstrate the flora and fauna of an undisturbed and pristine wetland of Kawartha’s according to Pillsworth. The Environmental Technology Program and Fish and Wildlife Program from Fleming College also utilize this region for course-related field exercises.
A study done by Explotech Engineering in Ottawa examining the effects of rock blasting on fish in the area says the “detonation of explosives in or near water can produce compressive shock waves which initiate damage to the internal organs of fish in close proximity, ultimately resulting in death of the organism. Additionally, ground vibrations imparted on active spawning beds have the ability to adversely impact the incubating eggs and spawning activity.” However the study found the Fish Sanctuary to be far enough away that it wouldn’t impact the adult fish saying “All required blasting is scheduled to take place a minimum of 50m from the edge of the water body at it’s closest point.” The spawning beds are a different story. Spawning beds are active from April 1 to June 30th on a yearly basis and the report found revisions may be required when blasting closer to active spawning beds.
Pillsworth and the other residents want to know who will be making sure these guidelines are followed. “The Ministry of Natural Resources doesn’t have enough staff, so who is going to help monitor this?”
To date the residents have spent about $200,000 to try and stop the quarry. Some of the money raised through fundraising but much of it out of pocket. “Way back in the beginning when this journey first started we all paid the $125 to start the appeal not realizing that we would have to pay a lot more money to have experts.” Pillsworth recalls. “Ignorance is bliss sometimes.”
What could be the final appeal on the issue will be heard by the OMB on March 21,22 and 23rd at the municipal office in Trent Lakes. Pillsworth says they are doing this for the greater good.”We love where we live and we want to keep it the way it is, it’s for the future not just for today.” she says. “What’s the future going to be like for our children and our grandchildren?”