2 The Stonewall Argus * Thursday, August 18, 2011

Strong opposition to quarry plan

Rosser residents speak out against proposed development during public hearing; council to make decision at future meeting

By Darren Ridgley A public hearing held at Grosse Isle Memorial Hall on Tuesday saw both words of support and strong criticisms for a proposed limestone quarry development in the RM of Rosser, as the developers attempted to obtain a conditional use permit to establish the quarry. An open-pit limestone mining operation is proposed to be set up on Section 17 in the RM, between Road 68N and Road 69N. Th e owners of the property, the Stewart family, have sought out Inland Aggregates to operate the quarry, leasing the land to Inland. Inland Aggregates runs mining operations all over Canada, including in the RM of Rockwood nearby. It's not the first time such an operation has been proposed for the area. Th e Stewart family had an application to build a quarry on the site put to council a year ago, before residents in the area protested the plan and the application was eventually denied after much public discussion and debate. Th e Aug. 15 hearing, which began at 6 p.m. and ended shortly after midnight, began with Rosser reeve Frances Smee asking presenters to keep their comments short, explaining that the applicants would make their presentation fi rst, followed by presentations and questions from the general public. Appearing on behalf of the applicants were representatives from Inland Aggregates as well as MMM Group, a consulting fi rm that spoke on behalf of Inland on several occasions throughout their presentation. Veronica Hicks, manager of planning and development for MMM, starting of the presentation by noting that Section 17 possesses an "important" limestone deposit, one that, if utilized, would bring in approximately $1.5-million in royalties to the municipality over the course of 15 years. Adding other enhancements and forms of revenue, the total could reach as high as $2-million. Hicks emphasised the "due diligence" that Inland had undertaken, having conducted numerous studies and analyses into noise impact, groundwater impact, blasting impact and other aspects to the operation, as well as a progressive reclamation plan which it intends to implement to eventually convert the land back to agricultural use after the quarry is depleted. She noted that several agriculturallybased bodies, including the provincial Manitoba Food, Agriculture and Rural Initiatives (MAFRI) department, as well as Keystone Agricultural Producers (KAP) have lent their support to the project, "knowing that it will be returned to agricultural use." Hicks said that provincially, mine operations are regulated by the Mines and Minerals act, which provide a framework for regulating aspects of mining like noise and vibration levels, as well as hours of operation. "The question here today is not to determine if it should happen, but how it should Photo by Darren Ridgley Darren Keam, senior soil scientist for MMM Group, speaks to the plans for a new limestone quarry proposed by Inland Aggregates at a public hearing in Grosse Isle on Aug. 15. The plan has drawn staunch opposition from residents living in the vicinity of the proposed site. be implemented, and what the conditions of its approval will be, to ensure its compatibility within the area," she said. Next to speak was Les Cels, operation superintendent for Inland Aggregates. Cels told the crowd that the mine would feature 13 feet high berms and visibility screens to keep the operation itself out of sight, showing photographs from their existing quarry in the RM of Rockwood to provide an example of what that would look like. He said the company would try to maintain the maximum possible setback when mining, to keep the operation as far from neighbouring properties as possible. "Locating the processing equipment in the centre of the property, we will provide the maximum possible distances from the neighbouring residents, and provide the best possible controls for sound levels, dust, and visibility." Cels said. Speaking to concerns about effects the quarry will have on local water supplies, and where water from it might go, Cels said the quarry will have a retention pond on-site to contain water. "At no time is water pumped off site," Cels said. Inland Aggregates is also offering to do a pre-quarrying door-to-door well survey within 1.6 kilometres of the site to document existing water usage and quality. Cels explained that the quarry would utilize multiple dust control methods, including spreading magnesium chloride and using a water truck to keep dust from rising. Inland, he says, will also be responsible for paving the roads from the site that trucks will be travelling down as they pick up and haul away rock from the quarry. Kerra Mruss, senior project manager and transportation and planning with MMM, told council that they expect there to be 25 trucks going in and out of the quarry per hour, with a maximum of 40 per hour. Speaking to noise levels, Cels said that provincial regulations require that noise can't exceed 130 decibels, and that the quarry's levels would not be greater than 55 decibels at the property line. Cels said Inland utilizes specially timed detonations and a process known as "stemming" to minimize noise from blasting. Stemming consists of crushed rock placed on the top portion of each drilled blasting hole, which helps to contain the noise from blasting. Darren Keam, senior soil scientist for MMM, spoke to Inland's history of reclaiming land after it has been mined, stating that Inland has reclaimed about 1,080 acres of land so far in Alberta. "Th e intent of the mining plan is to retain as much productivity of agricultural land as possible," Keam says. He said the reclamation plan for the site met the objectives of MAFRI and KAP, and that they had engaged in discussions with KAP to hear the producer's group's concerns about the proposal. While KAP is not against the idea, Keam said they did encourage Inland to engage in further talks with local producers. During Mruss's remarks, she noted that Inland's responsibilities to provide road upgrades in the area included paving and establishing a right hand turning lane from Highway 236 onto Lilyfi eld Road, which runs along the property. She said that there are two residents who are along the "hot route" that trucks would be travelling to and from the site on, one of which was set back 155 metres from the road, and another set back more than 300 metres. Hicks spoke last, re-iterating the benefi ts to the municipality, including $250,000 per year in royalties, 16 on-site jobs that would be created, and $1.2-million in direct labour income. She said that if the mine were opened, residents would be able to raise concerns with a community committee that would be struck, with its own local operating manager, to address residents' concerns and make sure the quarry was run according to the conditions and regulations placed upon it. After their presentation Rosser council took the opportunity to ask its own questions. Councillor Angela Emms asked why, if the company didn't anticipate a drop in property values, there was no impact study done. Hicks responded that a baseline property assessment would be provided upon request if the project is approved, and that if it's proven that the quarry does aff ect property values, homeowners would be compensated. Councillor Scott Corbett asked who determines what qualifies as "depletion" for a quarry, to which Keame said that is regulated by the provincial government. Corbett went on to ask if the land would no longer be usable for annual cropping after it was reclaimed. Cels said that reclaimed land would only be good for foraging initially, but that annual cropping could resume within a couple of years. Corbett also wanted to know how the company would enforce that trucks stick to their designated routes. Mruss said that the public could report trucks found in violation and that violators would have their contracts with the company terminated. "These shippers are very familiar with which routes are designated and they adhere to that," Mruss said. Smee asked how much rock was expected to be taken from the quarry. Hicks said they estimate that there's approximately 9 million tonnes that they would be taking out. After a brief recess, Smee began taking a roll call of all those who listed themselves as for and against the project on the signin sheet for the meeting. While there were a number of residents who expressed support for the project, few chose to speak or make a presentation. Jamie Kagan, legal counsel appearing for the Stewart family, did take the microphone to make some remarks. Kagan noted that past applications for the site had not been thorough enough, and that this new proposal was an opportunity for council to "see how far this process has come." He said that Inland's plans were supported by numerous tests, and noted that the land is being leased to the company, not sold, meaning they have a contractual obligation to follow through on their reclamation plans. He said that, as a large company that depends on being able to develop quarries in the future, Inland had a vested interest in making sure neighbours had a positive experience being near their sites, since a bad experience residents have will impact the company's reputation. He criticized the arguments brought forward by opponents to the plan, stating that there was "no science" to support the health concerns shared by many residents in the area and that opposing arguments overall lacked evidence to substantiate them. Continued on p. 3

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