Paddle the Grand event aims to raise opposition to quarry proposal

← ← Linda Givetash Fri Aug 10 2012

WATERLOO REGION — The fresh water flowing down the Grand River is not a resource that anyone should take for granted. That’s one of the many messages the North Dufferin Agricultural and Community Task force is sharing about protecting water and farmland in Dufferin County and neighbouring regions. The task force is inviting the public to Paddle the Grand along a four-hour course this weekend. Organizers hope that the more people who experience the river, the more voices they will have to protest a proposal for a 2,300acre mega-quarry in Melancthon Township near the headwaters of the Grand River. “Here we are … with this beautiful landscape and we’re ready to dump this giant mine on it and potentially contaminate this water forever,” said Sophia Sanniti who is organizing Sunday’s event. The mega-quarry was proposed last year by The Highland Companies, a group of private investors from Canada and the U.S. It wants to extract a large deposit of Amabel Dolostone, or limestone, sitting beneath rich farmland to be used for aggregate in construction. “Prime farmland is under threat everywhere and source water is very simple. When you mess with source water you mess with the water for hundreds of thousands of people,” said Carl Cosack, chair of the task force. To raise public awareness, the task force has organized events in municipalities throughout the year. It’s Kitchener’s turn this weekend, By canoeing and kayaking the Grand River, people can discover for themselves the importance of having access to fresh water, said Sanniti, a volunteer with the task force who’s in environmental studies at the University of Waterloo. While the Melancthon mega-quarry would lie outside of the Grand River

watershed, the impact of digging the mine and altering the landscape could reach those waters, she said. The Grand River Conservation Authority has contacted the province stating that while it doesn’t believe the quarry would affect surface water in the area, not enough information exists about what it may do to the groundwater. “We had some questions, and more questions than answers,” said Dave Schultz, communications manager for the authority. The quarry, slated to be nearly 60 metres deep, would extend below the water table, requiring water to be pumped out. The effect that would have on the surrounding area — including the Grand River watershed — is unclear, Schultz said. According to Cosack, it is also difficult to understand the movement of groundwater. He fears the result could be more damage than was ever anticipated by the Highlands. The location of the quarry at one of the highest points of elevation in Southern Ontario could create problems for the environment downstream, he added. “When you mess with something at the very top, everybody downhill is (affected), including Kitchener and Waterloo,” said Cosack. No one from The Highland Companies would comment on the proposal. However, its proposal application is published on the company’s website. It states that approximately 465 jobs will be created in Melancthon Township and more than $140 million will be spent locally. The mega-quarry would also produce about 6 billion tonnes of aggregate, the website states. That would to help supply the 100 million tonnes needed annually in the Greater Golden Horseshoe as that area of the province grows in the next 20 years. People who want to learn more about the community task force or who want to take part in Paddle the Grand can find information at www.ndact.com. Paddle the Grand will take place this Sunday with launch times at 9, 10, 11 a.m. and noon from the Canoeing the Grand headquarters at 3734 King St. E. in Kitchener.

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