Conservation Halton has issued a violation notice to Nelson Aggregate, operator of the Niagara Escarpment's Burlington Quarry. Nelson, a partnership between Lafarge Canada and Steed and Evans Holdings, received the violation notice after government inspectors discovered the company had dredged and filled parts of the Grindstone Creek headwaters late last month.
Citizen watchdogs Protecting Escarpment Rural Land (PERL) obtained a copy of the violation notice and have since declared their support for the conservation authority's investigation. The notice advises Nelson Aggregates that dredging and filling without permits is a violation of the Conservation Authorities Act and warns the company to cease and desist. Officials from Conservation Halton later confirmed that Nelson Aggregate is now under investigation by conservation authority staff.
The habitat destruction was discovered by a team of government representatives onsite to study the land's ecological significance. Officials from the Ministry of Natural Resources, the Region of Halton, and the City of Burlington have been working together to review the potential impacts on waterways, habitat, and rare species of a new quarry proposal by Nelson.
The existing quarry is close to 60-years old, with an extraction area of 210 hectares. It produces 2-million tonnes of aggregate each year. In 2004, Nelson applied for another permit under the Aggregate Resources Act to open a new quarry adjacent to the old one.
PERL actively opposes Nelson's application because the new quarry would replace existing farmland, wetlands, and residences as well as impact and displace several rare species such as the Jefferson Salamander and the Butternut tree. The presence of these threatened and endangered species and the importance of their habitat has long been seen as one of the greatest obstacles to Nelson's expanded quarry.
â€œIt appears that Nelson was attempting to remove some of the most ecologically valuable sections of the land that is under review,â€? says PERL spokesperson Sarah Harmer. â€œWe can only hope that they realize that they cannot bulldoze their way through a quarry application review process in such a sensitive and important area. In the meantime, we support the government's efforts to uphold our environmental laws.â€?
PERL and Waterkeeper are also reviewing the work that occurred on Nelson property to determine compliance with other environmental legislation, such as Canada's Species at Risk Act.