Westhaven Drive resisdents have a big battle on their hands as they try to maintain the value of their property and get their elected officials to understand that things have changed.

backgrounder 100By Pepper Parr

August 11, 2107

BURLINGTON, ON

 

When West Haven Drive resident Heather Laurie saw the letter in her mail box telling her that a quarry was going to go operational just over 100 yards from her back yard she made a point of meeting her neighbours – quickly.

The letter was notice of a meeting that Heather was not going to miss.

Meridian brick yard

Brick inventory outside the manufacturing plant in north Aldershot

The company, Meridian Brick, was the corporate entity that came out of an amalgamation of a number of brick manufacturing operations.

Brick manufacturing has been an industry in Aldershot for close to 100 years which wasn’t something the people on Westhaven Drive knew much about.

Turned out that the brick plant had three different quarries in the same area which are referred to as the west cell, central cell and the east cell.

Full TEC site

Reddish area on the left is the west cell and the brick manufacturing plant, to the right of Bayview Park is the Central cell which is being worked now. To the right of the Central cell and left of the red marker is the forested area the company wants to clear and begin quarrying shale.

Meridian was telling the community that they wanted to begin the process of preparing to mine Queenston shale from the east cell. That preparation would mean cutting down 9000 mature trees and operating heavy equipment yards away from the homes on the west side of Westhaven Drive.

When the residents went to their ward councillor and the Mayor asking for some help to prevent the cutting down of those 9000 trees and keeping the noise, the silica dust out of their lives, they were told that the company had a license to do what they were proposing. Nothing the politicians could do about the problem the residents believed they had.

According to the residents, the MPP wasn’t much help either.

The noise and the silica dust were just starting issues – there was the matter of property values on a street where home re-sale prices ranged from $795,000 to $2.2 million.

Heather’s initiative brought the neighbours together which resulted in the creation of TEC – Tyendaga Environmental Coalition – a non-profit the community created after local fund raising put money into a bank account to cover the cost of incorporating and hiring professional help.

The hand-delivered letter from Meridian to the Westhaven Dr. residents (WHD) mentioned their intent to expand their quarry to the east cell and announced a September, 2015 date for a WHD Community Meeting in order to present their plans and provide a Q and A forum.

About 60 WHD residents found themselves facing 10 Meridian employees; most were operations personnel.
Meridian had not expected quite that many people.

During that 2015 presentation residents learned a little about the corporate history,

1929 – Quarry owned and operated by National Sewer Pipe
1972 – Quarry first licensed under Pits and Quarry Control Act
1990 – Canada Brick purchased quarry
1998 – The West Tyandayga Ratepayers Assoc (WTRA) objected to the subdivision, the Official Plan Amendment: the Zoning By-law; and the Draft Plan. Then they agreed that it could be approved. One item had Jannock passing the Minutes of Settlement on to subsequent owners and to the WTRA
1999 – Tyandaga West Subdivision registered
1999 – Hanson PLC purchases Canada Brick

Sometime in 2010 a number of brick manufacturing operations were merged to create Meridian Brick who are now the operators of the brick manufacturing plant and the quarries in north Aldershot and the one on Dundas west of Tremaine.

Ward 1 city Councillor Rick Craven told the residents that Meridian Brick had a license to operate a quarry : “..they showed us documents …” he is reported to have said.

Westhaven looking toward lake

Approved as a sub division in he late 90’s the project went through some difficult phases with the original developer turning the project over to another developer. some of the original developer undertakings appear to have been forgotten by the company that actually built the homes.

Meridian had taken the position that they wanted to be “Good Neighbors”; they even have a handbook setting out what they were setting out to do.

That 2015 meeting was attended by Donna Kell (City Burlington, Manager communications) , Lisa Steen (City of Burlington, Planning) and Thomas Douglas (City of Burlington Planning). This was the meeting at which Councillor Craven told the residents – “They have the license folks there is nothing you can you do”.

Prior to the meeting Hanson offered WHD residents a tour of the processing plant.

During the 2015 meeting residents asked if the company could do an incremental quarry ‘dig’ – in other words only deforest a portion of the trees at a time (essentially, gradually move eastwards) rather than do the full 30-acre deforestation.

Maps of quarry cells and houses

The Westhaven Drive residents have done a lot of research in order to figure out just who owns what.

Their answer was that they had to do a complete deforestation because they needed to get more complete and comprehensive core samples which they could not get those without full deforestation. This appeared to indicate that they have very little knowledge about the clay / shale content before the devastation which some residents thought was even more disturbing.

The residents asked how the company would monitor the dust. Meridian said they would place a number of plastic bottles with holes in them suspended on a pole and periodically examine their content for volume. The residents wanted them to measure for content as well.

TEC Excavation equipment

Residents fear that they are going to have to live with equipment like this less than 100 yards away from their back yards. City says there is nothing they can do – the brick company has a license.

The 2015 meeting did a lot to galvanize the residents – they were beginning to realize that their lives were going to experience considerable disruption. They had come to realize, said one resident, “ that the politicians just want it off their plate and not have to be bothered about the mess that gets left behind when the quarry had been mined out.”

Meridian Brick began to realize that they were now up against a community that did not like what was being proposed and they were not going to sit quietly and let the company do whatever it wanted.

TEC stop quarry expansion Jul17

The residents are organized.

That September 2015 meeting lasted about two hours; it got a little tense near the end but out of it came an agreement amongst the WHD residents that they had to organize a community group which would then represent the community and work with brick company.

They were initially called the Tyandaga Community Group but in January 2016 they renamed and incorporated as Tyandaga Environment Group.

This is a story about residents who want their elected officials to protect their interests and a municipal government who seem to want to walk away from a problem because of a license that was issued in 1972.

The residents are pointing out that things change.

To follow: How the community pulled together and did their own research – it wasn’t a pretty picture.

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4 comments to Westhaven Drive resisdents have a big battle on their hands as they try to maintain the value of their property and get their elected officials to understand that things have changed.

  • BurlingtonLocal

    What’s changed?

    The company had a legal right to quarry and make bricks before, and they have a legal right to do it now?

    The only change I can see is that in a desperate hail mary attempt to maintain property values, the newly formed TEC is suddenly pretending they care about salamanders.

  • Another Perspective

    Your ‘before’ and ‘now’ argument is not logical – for example, before I could smoke in a public place so, according to your argument, I should be able to do it now? NO, as we get more ‘information’ we MUST re-evaluate the appropriate decisions that rely on this ‘information’ – smoking has been proven to be a health hazard and the law has acted accordingly!
    In a similar way, an urban quarry as close as ~50 meters to residences WILL SURELY have a health impact that was not adequately considered at the time of the granting of the 1972 quarry license and MUST be re-evaluated by today’s standards. Unfortunately, the MNRF / MOECC, unlike the more progressive and responsive agencies, do not have a history of reviewing their decisions.

    • JQ Public

      How about this logical question. Why was the Westhaven development allowed to proceed when it was known that the quarry would eventually exercise its right to quarry on its eastern lands? Encroaching suburbs on a quarry operation is not exactly grounds for the quarrying to stop.

  • Another Perspective

    For your information, the approval of the Westhaven Drive subdivision was vigorously opposed by the neighborhood but the political influence that the land developers had and their financial backing proved too big an obstacle for the Tyandaga residents to overcome. Even the mandate by the Region of Halton to have a quarry ‘Warning on Title’ was so ‘hidden’ and arguably inadequate to be considered devious at best. Make no mistake this is not just a Westhaven Drive issue this is a Tyandaga issue “since a Pit or Quarry creates apprehension in the general public, which makes the property less desirable and thus diminishes the prices of neighboring property”

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