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A coalition of Milton residents is calling on the Ford government to stop the construction of a quarry northwest of Toronto. The group argues that the project, spearheaded by James Dick Construction Ltd. (JDCL), poses environmental risks, threatens local water sources, endangers wildlife habitats and raises serious safety and health concerns for the community.

The Reid Road Reservoir Quarry site, spanning 83 hectares, is slated to extract sand and gravel for about 20 years. The proposal involves underwater blasting for aggregate extraction. The quarry — about 68 kilometres from Toronto — operated from the 1970s until the mid-1990s when its licence was revoked by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry in 2008.

In 2018, JDCL filed an application to reactivate the former gravel pit and quarry, citing underutilized resources and market proximity. A local advocacy group, Association of Citizens Together in Our Nassagaweya (ACTION Milton), mobilized to oppose the proposal, submitting thousands of letters and emails of objection to the Ford government. The group raised approximately $1 million from residents to cover the costs of the fight against the project.

Following extensive public scrutiny, the Ontario Ministry of Environment formally launched an environmental assessment (EA) to identify potential impacts on residents' quality of life, health and well-being. Key concerns include water quality and quantity, environmental damage, physical hazards such as dust and flying rock, increased traffic, noise, air emissions, and property devaluation in Campbellville.

Premier Doug Ford's office, in response to Canada’s National Observer’s request, sent the transcript from the premier’s press conference last week about the proposed project.

“We're going to go through the process. We're going to go through the environmental assessment. And, at the end of the environmental assessment, a decision will be made,” Ford said. “But I always govern based on the people. If people don't want something, then the government shouldn't do it. It's pretty simple. I think I've proven that to the people of Ontario. If people don't like that decision, I'm not too shy to say, 'OK, let's review it.'”

According to local media reports, in 2020, Ford strongly opposed the proposed Campbellville Quarry. “It is almost four years later and the premier has not kept his promise to stop the proposed quarry,” said George Minakakis, chair of ACTION Milton. “Premier Ford vowed during his second mandate to ‘get it done,’ however, his actions speak differently. We ask him today to keep his promise and stop this project.”

The premier’s delay in keeping his promise continues to place an unfair financial burden on local government and residents as they are forced to work through the EA process, which requires personal funding to hire legal and scientific counsel, said Minakakis.

JDCL did not respond to a request for comments. However, a letter from JDCL to residents emphasized the company’s decision to reopen a previously closed pit as part of its commitment to sustainability and efficient resource utilization. “This pit, under previous owners, extracted most of the surficial sand and gravel but was not able to remove the underlying bedrock,” the letter reads. “We now have extensive experience in mining bedrock in this type of setting and can extract the remaining reserves with no negative environmental impacts.”

Residents argue that the project, spearheaded by James Dick Construction Ltd., poses environmental risks, threatens local water sources, endangers wildlife habitats and raises serious safety and health concerns for the community. #Quarry #Ontario

JDCL highlighted the project's significance in promoting sustainable and environmentally responsible material supply for the GTA. “It makes use of resources that exist in a close-to-market location where the land has already been previously dug for surficial aggregate,” the company noted. “This makes sense from the standpoint of maximizing resource utilization in one area.”

JDCL also emphasized the quality of construction material that will be produced from the site, particularly the amabel dolostone. “This is a resource of provincial significance and is found here because of the special geology of the site,” the letter reads. “The use of amabel greatly increases the durability of concrete structures and results in efficient use of your tax dollars.”

Canada's National Observer reached to the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks and JDCL for a response but did not receive comments in time for publication.

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JDCL has a dismal history of bulldozing local opposition to its excessively disrupting extraction methods, its disruption of local water resources, and there is no indication that anything will change with this Reid Road quarry reactivation. It is true that this amabel limestone can produce more resilient concrete, but it is a rare and important resource and should be managed by informed public/private agency to ensure it is used in the most advantageous (not greedy) way. IF removing this resource disrupts the existing water resource and destroys other natural features the entire project must be re-thought to eliminate permanent damage.