The proposed quarry expansion will have significant negative impacts on water quality and quantity on the Niagara Escarpment. Lake Ontario Waterkeeper is fundamentally opposed to quarrying on the Niagara Escarpment. LOW has asked the Joint Board to protect Lake Ontario and the watershed that supports it by denying Nelson Aggregate’s request to expand this quarry.
The existing quarry and the proposed expansion are located on the Niagara Escarpment at Mount Nemo, which is part of the Milton Outlier. The Milton Outlier is a plateau, surrounded by the steep cliffs of the Escarpment to the south, east, and north, and the gentler slopes of the Medad Valley to the west. The Niagara Escarpment is a fossil-rich ridge which is 725 km in length. It is a recognized UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. The area includes some of the oldest forest ecosystems in eastern North America and a diverse range of plant and animal species.
The proposed quarry would be located at the heart of Mount Nemo. Nelson’s property includes provincially significant wetlands and woodlands. Two species at risk (the Jefferson Salamander and the Butternut tree) have been documented on and adjacent to the Nelson property. The site is part of the Lake Ontario Watershed. Water resources that originate on Nelson’s property, or that are fed by groundwater and streams on Nelson’s property, feed and replenish Lake Ontario.
Lake Ontario, the 14th largest lake in the world, is the smallest of the Great Lakes in surface area. The Lake constitutes an ecosystem of international importance that provides significant ecological services to millions of people. Historic and ongoing abuse and pollution of this ecosystem have drastically altered nutrient dynamics, hydrological rhythms, coastal habitats, water quality, and biological diversity. Many of these changes have occurred rapidly,and the lake and river continue to respond to these changes in unpredictable ways.
The Lake Ontario Biodiversity Conservation Strategy Working Group, established through the U.S.-Canada Lake Ontario Lakewide Management Plan, identified changes to tributaries that alter natural stream processes or restrict the movement of fish as one of seven major threats to biodiversity targets for Lake Ontario.
The health of Lake Ontario is essential to the ongoing health and prosperity of Ontario and the entire Great Lakes region. The lake provides drinking water for millions of Canadians and Americans. It serves as fish and wildlife habitat and as place for transportation and recreation.
The lake is threatened by a number of stressors:
Wetlands, headwaters, and creeks are drained, buried, or cut-off from their flow source.
Habitats are destroyed or encroached upon by development.
Fish populations cannot reproduce as their breeding grounds are eliminated or blocked.
The expanded extraction that Nelson has proposed at the Burlington Quarry would add to these stresses at a time when we should be acting to reverse them. This area is fundamentally inappropriate for quarrying. Lake Ontario Waterkeeper wholeheartedly supports efforts to protect and restore vital waterways. The Nelson Aggregate proposal does neither.
Lake Ontario Waterkeeper objects to quarrying on the Niagara Escarpment. Nelson should not be granted a Class A licence to quarry below water in an area where vital water resources are already impacted by development. We have asked the Joint Board to deny Nelson Aggregate’s application to expand the Burlington Quarry, so that the area can be protected and restored.
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