Exciting Update JDCL Erin Pit Expansion

Please join us in celebrating our successful objection to accepting the “James Dick Construction Limited (JDCL) “Erin Pit Expansion – Caledon Side” License Application” as it was originally presented.

While we celebrate these accomplishments, there is some unfinished business. We have legal and expert fees that still need to be paid.

We have donors who are prepared to match dollar for dollar up to $15,000 but only until the end of April 2021.

This is great because we need over $35,000.

As your 100% volunteer organization, we really need your financial help. The BCO wishes to thank our community for its generosity of spirit in supporting this ‘David and Goliath’ challenge!

What Happened?

After more than a year of hard work and effort, we have reached a legal settlement that represents the needs of the community of Belfountain as well as directly affecting the residents who live in proximity to the pit.  We avoided a costly five-day LPAT (Local Planning Appeal Tribunal) hearing which could have cost hundreds of thousands of dollars without a guaranteed outcome, and we avoided the personal suffering if the case were lost.

Belfountain residents formally delegated and stated their objections to the Zoning By-law Amendment at a Town of Caledon public meeting in February 2020. To the surprise of residents, the Town Council quickly approved the required Zoning By-law Amendment without insisting on water quality protection for private wells or completion of social impact studies.

There was one item of merit that occurred at that February meeting, when conditions were added to the Zoning By-Law Amendment through a motion made by Ward 1 Regional Councillor, Ian Sinclair.    https://www.caledonenterprise.com/news-story/9858793-caledon-councillor-demands-conditions-on-erin-pit-application/ The motion required LPAT to be advised that rezoning for the Erin Pit be conditional upon three things being part of the approved site plan.   These included:

  1. Details of the proposed conveyer tunnel design under Winston Churchill Road, including maintenance and decommissioning.
  2. A peer review protocol be conducted regarding the Credit River recharge springs.
  3. An outline of private well compensation be included if loss of water occurs.

In preparation for the LPAT process, the Belfountain Community Organization contacted residents and asked for financial support.   With the donations received, we were able to go to the Case Management Conference (CMC), the first stage of the LPAT, with legal representation.  

It was at the CMC, Oct 26, 2020, that we learned that both the Town of Caledon and the Credit Valley Conservation Authority (CVC) removed their objections to the licence application and that the Town had chosen to proceed to LPAT with participant status only. This meant they would provide a written submission to LPAT rather than be a commenting party at the hearing.  This was particularly surprising given the motion that had added Zoning By-law requirements in February 2020. The CVC did not participate at all.  Without support from the Town of Caledon and the CVC at LPAT, the Belfountain Community Organization was left to fend for itself.

The CVC was involved in the review process and raised initial objections to the ARA application on the basis that technical and planning matters remained unresolved pertaining to the West Credit River, significant cold-water fisheries and associated Significant Valley Land located just south of the subject property. There was no confirmation of Top of Slope conducted by the CVC, nor was there geotechnical confirmation to prevent extraction in that part of the licensed area.  

Our arguments outlined:

  1. The need for drinking water requirements, water temperature and water quality in the West Credit River and ground water impact had not been addressed in the site plan
  2. The impact to Species at Risk, Endangered Species, and Natural Heritage features
  3. Concern for compliance with overlapping laws and regulations
  4. The impact of the additional traffic on the community of Belfountain

Experts were hired: a planner, a hydrogeologist, a biologist and a traffic expert were engaged to peer review the reports presented by JDCL’s application and support our arguments. Site visits were conducted with the JDCL counterparts to identify exceptions and provide evidence to address community needs.

BCO asked if there was sufficient evidence to support shutting down the pit. It became apparent that this was unrealistic.

A haul route already exists on Winston Churchill. Our traffic expert advised that concerns about traffic impact would not have been a strong position at LPAT. There were however stronger issues related to hydrogeology, biology and planning which allowed the process to continue to a LPAT hearing.   

The LPAT was scheduled for March 22, 2021. To appear at LPAT and not appear frivolous, which can have significant financial and legal repercussions, our lawyer and experts, including a planner, needed to prepare the objections.  

The residents of Belfountain had identified the Pit as their third greatest concern in our community survey.  Once again, we came to the community requesting financial support after the experts were hired and the reviews began.   We set up the Small Change Fund to help those who asked for tax receipts.   While donations trickled in, more funding was required.

We continued to strategically align our arguments with the support of our experts to appear at LPAT. We were not able to disclose the discussions or the results of the studies to the community as that could compromise the outcome of the hearing.  

Hydrogeology was communicated to our expert as the area of greatest concern for the residents. 

Setbacks for a Significant Woodlot on Shaws Creek Road needed to be increased.  This area is habitat for protected bats and other wildlife as determined by the MNRF. The MNRF had increased the requirements for setbacks on three sides of this Significant Woodlot.  Our biologist noted that the setbacks around this Significant Woodlot were not the same in all areas and needed to be increased on the southern side.

Our biologist also identified that the Significant Valleylands north of the West Credit River “Top of Bank” was reportedly determined by eye and not by the CVC.  There is no indication that the Long-Term Stable Top of Slope (LTSTOS) was ever determined by a geotechnical engineer.

There is also an important natural forest north of the West Credit River on the west side of Shaws Creek Road.  This woodlot, south of the southern lot line, north of the West Credit River, is owned by JDCL but not part of the licensed area for this specific ARA license. There were no provisions to prevent JDCL from applying for an extraction license in this area or foresting. We learned that the aggregate in this location was of high quality.

There were several meetings to discuss the experts’ opinions, prepare for LPAT and to attempt to reach agreement on these issues.

What Was the Outcome?

While there were many conversations between JDCL and residents, there was nothing on the ARA License to fall back on.   The BCO’s efforts have changed this, and these items are included on the ARA license.

Our hydrogeologist was able to reach an agreement with JDCL that adds:

  1. Protection for private wells including door to door well monitoring within 500 meters of the pit
  2. Protection for private wells that may be impacted by bacteria in the dolostone aquifer with corrective measures to be made at the expense of the licencee
  3. Well water interference complaint response mechanism to compensate well owners
  4. Temperature monitoring program and contingencies to address any thermal impact to the West Credit River detected because of groundwater flow from the site into the river and
  5. Notification that increases in groundwater discharge to the Wilson pond due to elevation will not result in a significant impact to the pond.

During the negotiation, JDCL offered the BCO a lease agreement of a portion of the natural forest area.   The BCO would be required to take on the obligations of a tenant, police the land which could only be used by BCO members, have responsibility for garbage, insurance, damages and could be removed at any time.   The BCO, not having experience as a land management company, chose not to take on these obligations.  Instead, we continued to negotiate for protections of the natural forest entirely. 

We are pleased that we have come to an agreement with JDCL that the natural forest on Shaws Creek Road directly north of the West Credit River will not be harvested or used for aggregate extraction for the next 41 years. There are now provisions that prevent any applications under the ARA, the Niagara Escarpment Planning and Development Act or the Planning Act on the lands for the purpose of expanding an existing or establishing a new pit or quarry in this area.  There is a provision for a single-family home to be built on this land at some point in the future. 

JDCL did agree to adhere to an addition to the identified setbacks on the south side of the woodlot.

There will be an increase to thirty meters of re-forestation between the natural forest and the Significant Woodlot beside Shaws Creek Road which will be reforested before June 2022.

We had to walk away from pursuing the Top of Bank and the Long-Term Stable Top of Slope as we could not negate the information JDCL had regarding the CVC.  Our hope was to establish a wildlife corridor between the Significant Valleyland and the Significant Woodlot on Shaws Creek.

To pursue these issues would have cost $100,000+.  This was money we did not have and we settled.

The experts, lawyers and BCO attended a required one day at LPAT on March 22, 2021.  The LPAT is where the agreement between BCO and JDCL officially became part of the ARA license.   The executed agreement between the BCO and JDCL will also be registered on the title of the JDCL property.

What Now: 

While we celebrate these accomplishments, there is some unfinished business. We have legal and expert fees that still need to be paid.

We have donors who are prepared to match dollar for dollar up to $15,000 but only until the end of April 2021.

This is great because we need over $35,000.

As your 100% volunteer organization, we really need your financial help. We are asking everyone to please donate generously by either:

  1. a) Donating directly to the B.C.O: 100% of donations made are used to pay legal fees, experts’ invoices, and administration costs. No tax receipts are available.  The B.C.O. is an incorporated non-profit organization supported by volunteers. You can donate directly to the B.C.O. by cheque, cash or e-transfer by contacting  treasurer@ belfountain.ca, or use your account at PayPal at BCO to support the initiatives. You can tell us whether you would like your donation allocated to a specific project or to the B.C.O. in general, to be distributed where needed.   B.C.O. administration costs are outlined in our financial statements which are reviewed publicly at the Annual General Meeting and posted to our website.
  2. b) Donating to Small Change Fund: For those of you who would like a tax receipt, we are pleased to announce that we have partnered with Small Change Fund.  When you donate $25 or more to any of the three projects, you will receive a tax receipt.  SCF does retain a percentage of the funds donated to support the services they provide as outlined on their website. Choose the project: Gravel-pit-threatens-Belfountain As projects are resolved and donations received are higher than the invoices for the project, the overage will be applied to the most urgent of the remaining two issues.

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