Neighbours …

Dedicated to Digging for Truth, Blasting the Myths, and Etching Reality in Stone.

I moved into the greenbelt, a place of peace and charm,
I was followed by a gravel pit, they said there’d be no harm.

My neighbours fought a valiant fight to turn this pit away,
but the MNR gave a rubber stamp and so it’s here to stay.

So the pit is now my neighbour, it’s just outside my door,
I’ve made some changes in my life, some I do abhor.

I sit inside my kitchen, to look out through the screen.
Unfortunately it’s thick with dust and nothing can be seen.

The trucks are rolling past my house with noise and dust galore,
and brown is rising to the sky, there is no blue no more.

The noise is just horrific, I can barely hear my thoughts,
but that’s OK, it’s time for bed when it’s about to stop.

The grinding and the crushing doesn’t start ’til 7 am,
which is alright because it seems I’m wide awake by then.

My children all have asthma, and my wife she has the heaves;
they all moved to the in-laws when they said they had to leave.

My well was always very full, clean and cool and sweet,
but so’s the water from truck that delivers twice a week.

I’d like to try to sell my house and get right out of here
but there’s no value in my home, my retirement’s lost I fear.

But someday when the pit is done in 50 years or more,
there’ll be a lake and grass and trees and wildlife here galore.

So one day when I’m dead and gone, and far removed from harm,
I’ll be buried in the greenbelt, a place of peace and charm

                                                    photo credit: Ken Cressey

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Deja Vu?

Dedicated to Digging for Truth, Blasting the Myths, and Etching Reality in Stone.

DEJA VU? (def: the illusion of having previously experienced something actually being encountered for the first time)

In our August 10th posting we talked about ‘LAND BANKING’. (def: the purchasing of a parcel or parcels of land or real estate held in trust, as for future development)
We mentioned that aggregate companies are allowed to purchase and license properties for pits and quarries now, or have done so in the past, but then not exercise their option to operate, choosing instead to keep the property for future development. However, having the license approved in advance of need removes the threat and uncertainty of stricter rules in the future that may prevent that particular property from being developed at all., or as it is referred to – ‘GRANDFATHERING’ (def: to exempt (something or someone) from new legislation, restrictions, or requirements).

Well, fast-forward to Paris Ontario and that exact scenario is currently playing itself out.
Dufferin Aggregates will be exercising their option to open a pit now, on a property they licensed 38 years ago!!

No environmental studies to be performed. No review to see if the conditions of 1974 bear any resemblance to today. No public input! Just a rubber stamp by the MNR.

The Minister of Natural Resources, Michael Gravelle, a life long ‘BUREAUCRAT’, (def: an official who works by fixed routine without exercising intelligent judgement) proved his worth by providing the CITIZENS (def: a native or naturalized member of a state or nation who owes allegiance to its government and is entitled to its protection) of Paris with a giant ‘ROAD APPLE’ (def: a lump of horse dung; piece of excrement), (figuratively speaking of course.)

“While I can appreciate your request,… “I must advise that there is no requirement in legislation to have a licence reopened for review once it has been issued.
“I also understand that the licence is within the land use area designated for aggregate extraction as per Brant County’s Official Plan, and, as such, is a permitted land use.”
Now, that’s LEADERSHIP? (def: the position or function of a leader, a person who guides or directs a group)
This kind of attitude oozes from the MNR. Glad to see it starts at the top!
So how come the MNR, MPP’s MP’s, Mayors, Councillors, et al… are falling all over themselves giving an appearance of supporting measures to fight the Melancthon Quarry, but they don’t have enough time for the Concerned Citizens of Brant? Not a big enough story? Not enough potential publicity? Can you say ‘HYPOCRITES’? ( def: a person who pretends to have virtues, morals or principles, etc., that he or she does not actually possess).
Are Minister Gravelle’s actions IRRESPONSIBLE? (def: not showing or done with due care for the consequences of one’s actions or attitudes; reckless).
Minister Gravelle should be giving the citizens of Paris what they deserve from their politicians, PROTECTION! (def: to defend or guard from loss, annoyance, insult, etc.; cover or shield from injury or danger).
But, it appears the Minister of the MNR and his department subordinates are far too busy being the Aggregate Industry’s LAPDOGS (def: figurative sense of “subservient person”).

‘the Voice’ at the Other End of the Line …

Dedicated to Digging for Truth, Blasting the Myths, and Etching Reality in Stone.

I recently got talking with a guy who is involved with a group called PitSense. He told me about this episode …

His cell phone rang at 8:31 on a Thursday  morning. That was like the crack of dawn for him as he’s really not a morning person.

The number and name on the display were unknown to him so he really had no expectations as to what the call was about.

“Is this John Smith” [not his real name] a Voice asked.

It was early, but this was an easy question.

“Yes” he replied.

Then ‘the Voice’ gave a brief explanation of the reason for the call. It seems that two PitSense group members had asked to post a notice in the Voice’s shop window advertising a “meet and greet” BBQ, and John’s name and phone number were included on the notice.

The Voice proceeded to lob a few easy questions, which was greatly appreciated being so early in the day.

“What road do you live on?” the Voice wanted to know.

Assuming that he was thinking of coming to the event, John replied with his street name.

“Is that a paved road?” the Voice inquired.

Why yes it is” John replied.

“And do you have a paved driveway?” asked the Voice.

Another easy one. He could have answered these at 5:30 am and still got them right. He was sure he was knocking these out of the park! “Why yes it is” he answered.

“Then you have some nerve” the Voice scolded.

Now he started thinking the Voice may be telepathic! John had been known to have a bit of nerve. He speaks when he probably shouldn’t, a little too pushy sometimes, maybe even a bit too fast with an inappropriate comment. The voice was intriguing him.

“And why is that?” John. asked.

“Well” said the Voice, “you’re against gravel, but you have it all around you. That’s very hypocritical. Your road, your driveway, your house … how are these things to be built if you don’t want pits to open?”

The Voice went from tossing easy lobs to a fast ball in a blink of an eye!

John wished for a coffee.

“Well” John said, taking a deep breath “I’m not against pits and mines. Our group is promoting a more fair approach to the aggregate industry.”

“We believe that what we call ‘full cost accounting’ should be done by the operators in the planning stages to ensure that the proposed operation is economically feasible before being issued a license. For example, we believe that 11 cents per ton in haulage fees is not enough to pay for the damage done to our roads by their trucks. Presently, our tax dollars must compensate for these repairs.”

The Voice agreed, so John continued …

“There are no environmental fees being charged to the operators to plant trees, or protect species, or to compensate for the water and air pollution caused by their trucks and machinery.”

The Voice said ”unhuh”

“Rehabilitation of the majority of pits is not happening. There should be money set aside at the beginning of the operation to ensure the pit or mine gets rehabilitated as the operation progresses, and is completed on a timely basis after the pit has closed.”

Silence at the other end …

“Ontario has an aggregate recycling rate of 3%. The UK runs at 28%. The UK has high dumping fees that make it more practical to recycle. Ontario does not.”

“The loss of property tax revenue due to property devaluations should be paid for by the operator, compensating the municipality instead of hitting residents further away from the pits with increased taxes to make up for the revenue loss.”

And John also said he believes property owners that suffer devaluation due to the operation of a pit or quarry should be compensated for their loss. He then asked ‘the Voice’: “Why should a private person or business enrich themselves, while the property owners around them lose their equity? Many of these home owners would include their house as a major part of their retirement income plan.”

Apparently John’s group PitSense believes there must be fairness in the system that does not exist today.

The Voice said he agreed, and said goodbye.

“click”… John didn’t even get a chance to ask if ‘the Voice’ would come to the BBQ!