Alton village has significant cultural heritage and is being promoted by the Town of Caledon as a tourism destination. Rejuvenated heritage resources include: the Millcroft Inn, the Alton Mill Studios and what is the oldest Mechanic’s Institute remaining in the Town of Caledon. The historic Alton School House, built in 1875, was the oldest operating school in the Peel District School Board and now has a heritage designation.
The village is home to about 1,000 people and a village study, carried out in 2009 as part of the Town of Caledon’s official plan, states that it has a desired population of 1,750 by 2021 and 2,950 by 2031.
The village already has experience with the impacts caused by gravel operations. The 40 acre Alton Sand and Gravel pit at 20110 Porterfield Rd, is on the village border. This gravel pit is now owned by James Dick Construction Limited, now the site’s third owner. As part of our delegation to the Town of Caledon during their December 9th 2013 meeting Dr. Eileen Dykes from Alton described her own experiences of living next to this gravel pit for the last 16 years. She described how the pit’s ownership has changed and expressed concern about the accountability for rehabilitation. What happens if the ownership of the proposed Melville Pit changed? Dr. Dykes described how one of the previous pit owners parked machinery beside her house in order to weigh down a line causing noise and pollution for her. She said that requirements held up as conditions on the operator can in fact have loopholes that negatively affect the residents. She gave an example where the pit operating times were supposed to be limited to a 7 a.m. start and yet she woke one day to find work being done at 5 a.m. “At this point, I contacted my Councillor, who listened sympathetically, but said that while this company is known for many infractions, there is nothing he could do about it”. She said that while the James Dick Construction Limited site is dormant today, she knows it can restart any day, “and my living hell of living beside a gravel pit could start once again”.
The proposed Melville Pit has the potential of more significant implications for the village of Alton.
Having enough water has been a long standing concern and an ongoing debate for the village. There have been numerous studies done looking at the natural availability of groundwater, many of which have been linked to the current need to expand the size and population of the village. With this backdrop it is known that the site of the proposed Melville Pit is on a divide where the groundwater flow comes south to supply Alton wells.
The village already experiences too many noisy, dusty and dangerous 35 tonne gravel trucks that hurtle through its Main Street. The number of trucks will only go up as a result of the Melville Pit. Concerns are heightened by the Region of Peel’s recommended Strategic Goods Movement Network (SGMN), which was updated on 25 April 2013 and clearly shows why Alton’s Main Street is, in effect, becoming part of the network of primary haul routes for the western corridor of the GTA! This Region of Peel map clearly shows the location of the existing James Dick Construction Limited gravel pit to the east of Alton and the proposed site of the Melville Pit slightly to the north of that.
As well three properties to the south of the Village near the intersection of Highway 24 and Main St. are designated as future sites for aggregate extraction. All of which will have additional adverse impacts on water quality and quantity and truck traffic. The Town of Caledon is already one of the top 10 aggregate producers in Ontario, providing over 4 million tonnes of sand and gravel a year. While Caledon is in the greenbelt, these designations have it on the way to being the brownbelt.
Alton’s own Regional Councillor Richard Paterak was quoted in the Caledon Enterprise on October 7th 2013 as saying that ” “There may be more gravel trucks but they are coming from Wellington, Dufferin, Grey and Simcoe and we have no control over that truck traffic”. This year the new Alton Public School opened on the corner of Main Street and Station Street, just to the north of the old school property. The front of the new school is literally only a few feet back from Main Street where even more noisy, dusty and dangerous 35 tonne gravel trucks are about to hurtle through! Even if our Councillor cannot control all trucks going through Alton, surely he should vote against any application that will increase truck traffic where he himself gets to vote?
Along with the increase in truck traffic, there will be a general increase in all traffic through Alton village as the the Orangeville Bypass (County Road 109) gets busier and busier. Alton will get more through traffic from vehicles seeking an alternate route up and through to the west of Orangeville. Main St, north of the intersection of Queen and the former Highway 136 currently accommodates about a1,000 vehicles per day. This section of the street is designed to handle up to 3,000 vehicles a day. With an approved Melville pit, sooner rather than later this will be the village’s reality.
To stop the Melville Pit, we depend on the support of Alton. We need your voice and your financial donations.