Company abandons mega-quarry plans
Site of the proposed quarry north of Shelburne, Ont.
Published Wednesday, November 21, 2012 11:15AM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, November 21, 2012 5:07PM EST
Acknowledging widespread public opposition, the company behind a proposed mega-quarry at a site north of Toronto has backed down.
In a statement released Wednesday, the Highland Companies announced it was withdrawing its request to develop the project in Melancthon Township.
"While we believe that the quarry would have brought significant economic benefit to Melancthon Township and served Ontario's well-documented need for aggregate, we acknowledge that the application does not have sufficient support from the community and government to justify proceeding with the approval process," Highland's John Scherer said.
The company also said it was also abandoning efforts to restore a rail corridor through Dufferin County and that Highland president John Lowndes has resigned his role.
The project was to have been developed at a location on Highway 124 near Shelburne, Ont., approximately 100 kilometres northwest of Toronto.
The 2,300-acre limestone quarry -- which would have been the largest in Ontario and second-largest in Canada -- was met with vocal criticism from those who opposed the project’s freshwater demands, as well as the loss of fertile farmland.
The Ontario government had asked Highland to conduct a full environmental assessment of the project, and had been awaiting an answer since September 2011.
Wednesday’s announcement also came after a second edition of an anti-quarry fundraising event -- known as "Soupstock" -- was held in Toronto last month. The October event brought together over 200 chefs to sell soup in an effort to raise funds and awareness to help fight the planned quarry.
Two days before that event, Highland Companies posted a tweet on its account dedicated to the quarry proposal. "We're listening Soupstock attendees," it read.
Local MPP Slyvia Jones, who represents the Dufferin-Caledon riding, said the defeated project is proof that community organizations can work.
“The reality is there was a lot of community resistance to this project from the beginning,” Jones said in a statement. “There is a lesson to be learned here: local residents, community groups and municipal councils can make a difference.”
For his part, NDP energy critic Peter Tabuns said the strong resistance to the project shows that the province needs to re-examine how it proceeds to deal with the aggregate industry.
“We can’t destroy farmland for aggregate,” he said.
With files from The Canadian Press