Oppostion to Muskoka-area quarries garners national attention

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Resident opposition to two quarries in the Muskoka area has caught the attention of national media.

Proposals for the McClintock Quarry, northeast of Dorset just outside Muskoka’s boundary, and the Lippa Pit and Quarry, to the northwest of Skeleton Lake, have faced staunch opposition from property owners in the vicinity of each site. Separate articles in the National Observer and in The Globe and Mail addressed the impact of the proposed quarries on the areas around Harvey Lake and Skeleton Lake respectively, and cited fears by local residents that both the lakes and the people who enjoy them would be adversely affected by the operations.

Concerns raised in both of the proposals include noise, large truck traffic, and the effect on water quality.

The proposed McClintock Quarry sits on Crown Land and would be an expansion of an existing operation that would extend to within 400 metres from Harvey Lake. The original proposal was for a 53-acre operation, which opposition successfully reduced to 35 acres.

The proponent, Eric Doetsch of John Bacher Construction, has held two public meetings about the quarry. And in a response to concerns raised by area residents, David Villard of Pebble Beach Aggregate, commenting on behalf of the proponent, noted that aggregate extraction is a permitted use of the land under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry’s Crown Land Use Policy Atlas.

But the residents maintain that the proposed quarry doesn’t meet local planning requirements, including being at least 1,000 metres from a waterfront designation. (The applicants comments along with further response from the residents can be found here.)

Among their objections are:

  • Potential for noisy and dusty rock crushing all summer long will destroy the reasonable enjoyment of nearby cottages and homes;
  • The aggregate development would permit stripping, extraction, blasting and crushing in close proximity to wetlands that flow directly into Harvey Lake and then Kawagama Lake and then on to Lake of Bays; and
  • Airborne particles and contaminants are a concern of residents, who are only 400 metres from the proposed quarry and whose drinking water is currently taken from Harvey Lake.

In a media release issued in January, Harvey Lake cottager Aaron Court said, “The residents of little Harvey Lake have been on the lake for over 60 years and are now faced with the destruction of their surrounding area which will be stripped of its trees, dust-filled, and so noisy we would not be able to enjoy our properties during the peak summer season. To state this would not impact the reasonable enjoyment of our cottages, and not impact our property values is unreasonable. While we understand local business is important, this is simply a play for more profit, as local needs can be met through local quarries with direct highway access. The quarry should not be at the expense of the Harvey Lake families, cottages or the wellness of the lake.”

The entrance to the McClintock Quarry (the gate at left) is on McClintock RoadThe entrance to the existing pit (the gate at left) near Harvey Lake is on McClintock Road

The existing pit operation by John Bacher Construction is circled in red above (Underlying image: Google Maps)

The existing pit operation by John Bacher Construction is circled in red above (Underlying image: Google Maps)

To the west of Huntsville, and just north of Skeleton Lake, the proposed Lippa Pit and Quarry continues to face opposition by the surrounding residents. The Township of Muskoka Lakes rejected the application for the operation, a decision that is under appeal at the Ontario Municipal Board.

If approved, the quarry would be located on Butler Mill Road to the north of Aspdin Road and about two kilometres from Skeleton Lake.

In a letter last year to the Township of Muskoka Lakes, the Skeleton Lake Cottagers Organization (SLCO) outlined its opposition to the quarry, including noise and dust, effects on water quality and increased heavy truck traffic: “At the maximum extraction level, the operation would generate 100 truck trips per day, or 14 trips per hour. That equates to a truck trip every 4 minutes, 8 hours per day. Most of the traffic would go easterly to the Huntsville – Bracebridge market area. The greatest impact would be to those users of Muskoka Road #3 east of Butler Mill Road.”

An OMB pre-hearing conference was held on February 21 with another scheduled for July 13 in Port Carling. The OMB hearing will likely be held in the spring of 2019.

The proposed Lippa Pit and Quarry is on Butler Mill Road (above), off Aspdin Road (Muskoka Road 3)

The proposed Lippa Pit and Quarry is on Butler Mill Road (above), off Aspdin Road (Muskoka Road 3)

Location of proposed pit and quarry on Butler Mill Road

Location of proposed pit and quarry on Butler Mill Road (Image via Stop Muskoka Pit)

There is hope by both groups that the national media response will help their cause. The effect remains to be seen.

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6 Comments

  1. Barry groomes on

    In the beginning of the report it says a quarry located east of huntsville but north west of skeleton lake. But then later says trucks must travel east to huntsville.. does no one proof read these story’s anymore..

  2. Bonnie Baumgartner on

    Would hate to see the beauty of any lake ruined. But Skeleton is a geological wonder. Experts think a meteor formed it. The limestone bottom may help keep it so clean. Our springs and wetlands feed all the Muskoka Lakes downstream. Experts should protect and study it; not let one decision at a time slowly ruin this rare, natural wonder.

  3. Karen Insley on

    Interesting, the Aggregate Act was revised under D. McGuinty, and allowed old “abandoned” pits reserect, be in illegal operation and be grandfathered in to receive active permit status without public consultation; Patterson Pit at jurisdiction of Huntsville /Bracebridge, now foreign owned, managed by a large Canadian aggregate company. Where was the outcry here? It uses the cold water stream as a source of water and drainage. The latter drains into 3 mile lake et al to Lake Rosseau. The clay bed it operates on is another problem, along with the wetlands. The dust/silica clouds during blasting, crushing, provides artificial clouds, that spread particulate down the valley to all local homes/cottages on Hwy 141 east. What a joy the dust film is that covers all and adds to the Cottage Country allure on the surrounding lakes/streams. These are payloads to the city and not needed here. The trucks Jake’s are a lovely addition to cottage and residential life along with the speeds of these and other large trucks. Who was it that said Muskoka was the Hamptons of the North? It certainly couldn’t have meant in either of the above jurisdictions?

  4. Hi Karen
    In 2007, the ARA was amended to REGULATE pits and quarries. This was a positive move (further north pits & quarries are unregulated – even more horrendous if you live closeby.) I am not sure if you are referring to this change in the ARA done January 1, 2007. The Aggregate Resources Act changed – Newly Designated Areas included all of Parry Sound District; Manitoulin Island; Algonquin Park; most of Bancroft & Pembrooke; bottom half of North Bay; southern parts of Sudbury and Sault Ste. Marie & Thunder Bay. Existing pits or quarries could licence their operations simply by applying to ‘grandfather’ it – IF PROPERTY ZONED AND HAD ADEQUATE SALES.
    I am president of a group, POWR MAG Inc (Protectors of Wetlands & River Mag.) initially formed in 2010 to oppose a planned expansion to a pit and to add a quarry – almost adjacent to the Magnetawan River and its wetlands (which, according to the MNRF was not provincially significant only because it had not yet been evaluated.)
    POWR MAG made many submissions to the MNRF and to Perry Council, which bravely denied approval for tne necessary rezoning. The proponent appealed to the OMB. With a tremendouse amount of research, presentations, work, fund-raising and great expense (+$90,000) to our small group, we soldiered on. On Dec. 1, 2016, the OMB closed their case file for the rezoning (new OP & Zoning By-Laws passed in 2013). However, the related aggregate licence appeal still remains as an OMB Case. There seems no process to have it removed!!!! The proponent, if he wishes to continue, must NOW apply for an Official Plan and a Zoning Amendment – both of which provide much greater protections to the river & wetlands. Perry Township even declared the Magnetawan River a significant natural heritage feature! Under the new appeals process, LPAT, it seems even more imperitive for residential groups to work with their municipal leaders – not just when there is a threat of an inappropriately placed pit/quarry – but during the reviews and updates to the OP & Comprehensive Zoning By-Laws.
    We live in the Canadian Shield – there is no shorage of sand and gravel. Many existing pits & quarries have excess capacthe natural environment, scenic beauty and peaceful quality of lifeity. There is absolutely NO NEED to have aggregate operations destroying the natural environment, scenic beauty and peaceful quality of life of the Muskoka or the Almaguin Highlands.

    • Hi Doris Kelly-Capyk
      Thank you for your thoughtful and knowledgeable contribution. POWR MAG Inc’s efforts for the Magnetawan area are commendable. $90k is significant to achieve that result you speak of. A few other issues of a different ‘fit’ come to mind, one being the sea of black panels, but that’s another discussion. The point in these ‘grandfathered’ pits is, they were operating illegally to purposely gain those sales and qualify for provincial licensing during a very narrow crack of 6 months. This was done with some knowledge of the criteria beforehand and the caveat with the legislation,-no public consultation needed. The legislation has recently undergone review due to outcry, no doubt. All the while, business as usual. Don’t get this comment’s intent wrong, Aggregate is an important economic resource just not for development anywhere especially on the scale these pits are now operating. As far as working with the municipalities, it wasn’t even a blip of concern except for the permit revenues. Certainly not for jobs, circa 2008 around 100, but not sure if all local. Under the FedNor Muskoka Economic Development Draft plan, (but after the provincial legislation took effect) , Aggregates were to be developed away from residential areas, only for local use in construction and singular slab production. As far as input to OP, Zoning, etc, that too has excluded the Community not once, but several times. Perhaps Incorporation and $ are the only routes open for change, unless the political players are changed along with the repeal of legislation?

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