The resident group formed to protest the application from Olympia Sand & Gravel for a 293 acre pit on the west side of Willoughby Road, just south of County Road 109, or the southern border of Orangeville, is in need of some extra cash, and hopes with a little support, and a new weapon they have to wield, they will make a substantial difference in their fight.
The group is about to head to the Ontario Municipal Board to attempt to stop the application that asks for an above water sand and gravel pit, including a processing plant.
The Town of Caledon approved the application for rezoning submitted by Olympia in December 2013, and the resident group appealed it to the OMB.
They are fighting independently now without support from the municipality, and have come up against costs some already substantial fundraising efforts simply won’t cover.
“We’ve raised nearly $112,000,” said Mary Haslett of CAMP. “But we need about $65,000 more.”
The group has also found what it believes will be the issue they can pin their fight on. Throughout their battle, they’ve worked to establish that the land is a habitat for the Jefferson Salamandar. But Orangeville, as a municipality, has shown a concern for its water supply in the past as well. Their councilors and mayor have been outspoken about the eye they want kept on the application and answers they want on issues surrounding it.
The municipality conducted a tier 3 water budget through a source water committee mandated by Ontario’s Clean Water Act of 2006. The water budget has resulted in pending legislation CAMP is now hoping to use during their case.
The budget noted Orangeville has not had problems with pumping rates in the past, but identified areas with significant groundwater threats. To CAMP, this shows a need to start keeping an eye. To Orangeville, it meant the same, but the town officials don’t share the enthusiasm that the group has its silver bullet.
“The pending legislation they’re speaking to looked at protecting the volume of water available, to ensure things weren’t undertaken that would have a risk,” said Orangeville’s director of Public Works Doug Jones. Jones explained that the background work done by Olympia had satisfied the source water committee.
Part of the site of the Melville Pit is in one of the identified Issue Contributing Areas (ICA) and two of Orangeville’s municipal wells are in the ICA.
The group has learned that the budget resulted in pending legislation calling for the review of all existing take water permits, new limits on who can get take water permits, limits on development according to their water needs and Ministry of Environment oversight on water threats.
“When we start looking at some of the new legislation, it raises the questions, what if those wells are significantly affected?” Haslett said.
Jones said the capture zones of the wells extend north west, and the pit should not be a burden on them. But he said the overall idea of keeping a watchful eye remains relevant.
“Certainly any kind of activity like this being proposed is one we need to have regard for and ensure it is looked at in the context of Orangeville’s water supply. We will continue to watch.”