Rural folks triumph over mega-quarry – by Jim Merriam (London Free Press – November 23, 2012)

Rural Ontario can be forgiven for its celebratory mood this week. After all, The Man blinked and the grassroots movement finally won one.

The issue was the mega-quarry in Melancthon Township near Shelburne. The Highland Companies announced Thursday the application to extract aggregate from the quarry is being withdrawn and Highland president John Lowndes has stepped down.

A company spokesperson said the application “does not have sufficient support from the community and government to justify proceeding.” A classic understatement if ever there was one, with anti-quarry signs appearing as far away as Toronto lawns.

The proposed quarry was “mega” in every sense of the word. It would have covered 2,313 acres, or 93.7 hectares, of what is arguably some of the best farmland in the province. The area’s Honeywood silt loam is as good as it gets for any number of crops, especially potatoes.

In fact, Highland Companies has become a major potato producer since it started acquiring land for the quarry in 2006.

The numbers from In The Hills magazine tell the “mega” story. The five-kilometre wide quarry contained an estimated one billion tonnes of rock reserve, enough to build a two-lane highway 55,555 kilometres long (the circumference of the Earth is 40,075 km).

Water protection was a big concern for quarry opponents, since the site would have been dug out 61 metres feet below the water table. By comparison, Niagara Falls is 51 metres high.

The grassroots victory on the quarry should put some wind under the wings, if you will, of opponents of so-called wind “farms” in Ontario (these huge wind-turbine developments are as much like farms as my mules are like angels).

Many of the quarry protesters are also involved in the opposition to turbines being shoved down the throats of rural residents.

For the rest of this column, please go to the London Free Press website: