This just arrived: an appeal to friends of the Niagara Escarpment to ask the Niagara Escarpment Commission for a judicial review of the Walker Aggregates decision. Groups and individuals are urged to express concern about the approval of this massive new quarry located on the Niagara Escarpment. Here are the details:
On June 18, 2012 the Joint Board, in a split decision (2-1), approved a massive, new 42-million tonne aggregate quarry for Walker Aggregates Inc. located at the very highest point of the Niagara Escarpment, near Duntroon, Ontario.
Ms Ruth Grier, former M.P.P. and Minister of the Environment in 1990, is urging all friends of the Niagara Escarpment to voice their concern with this decision to the Niagara Escarpment Commission (NEC) in advance of its July 19, 2012 meeting. At this critical meeting, Ms Grier on behalf of the Clearview Community Coalition (CCC) and Mr. David Donnelly on behalf of Environmental Defence will urge the NEC to consider applying to the Ontario Divisional Court for a judicial review of the Walker decision.
CCC and Environmental Defence each submitted a letter to the NEC. Protecting Rural Escarpment Land (PERL) also sent a letter to the NEC calling for the Commission to protect the Escarpment by initiating a review by the Court.
For your convenience, a template letter is below. Please voice your concern to the NEC by 5:00 p.m. on Friday July 13, 2012, by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or fax (905) 873-7452 so that it may be before the NEC at its July 19, 2012 meeting. Please cc email@example.com so that we may track the number of responses.
Anne Sabourin, MES, JD, Associate, Donnelly Law
Chair Scott and Niagara Escarpment Commissioners
Niagara Escarpment Commission
232 Guelph St.
Georgetown, ON L7G 4B1
Dear Mr. Chair and Niagara Escarpment Commissioners,
Re: Walker Aggregates Inc. Case No. 08-094
Judicial Review of Joint Board Decision Urgently Needed
[I or Insert name of Organization] am/is writing to you to express serious concerns with the Joint Board’s decision to approve the massive Walker quarry on the very highest point of the Niagara Escarpment, an area of the province that has been designated by UNESCO as a World Biosphere Reserve. [I or Insert name of the Organization] urge(s) you to seek a judicial review of the decision given its legal implications.
As you may be aware, Joint Board Member Robert Wright wrote a 100-page dissenting opinion and stated that the decision sets a “perilous course for increased development in the [Niagara Escarpment Plan] Areas that is not compatible with the natural environment of the Niagara Escarpment and land in its vicinity”. Member Wright clearly agreed with the compelling case presented by the Niagara Escarpment Commission, a Party to the hearing.
Mr. Wright, in his dissent, points to fundamental legal errors in the decision to approve the expansion of the quarry. He notes, for instance, that the application did not meet the three part amendment test under the Niagara Escarpment Plan (NEP).
The decision also fails to apply the specific provisions and policies of the Niagara Escarpment Planning and Development Act (NEPDA) and the NEP to the development proposal. This means that the NEPDA and the NEP were given little or no legal effect in the decision. The decision sets a dangerous precedent and effectively nullifies the development control regime established by the NEPDA and the NEP. There is a very real risk that if this decision stands, future development applications may also be subject to similar interpretation.
[I or insert name of Organization ] am/are very concerned that this decision, if implemented, will open the door for increased incompatible development on the Niagara Escarpment and the destruction and removal of natural features, functions and systems on sites identified as unique ecological areas.
The Niagara Escarpment Commission must act now to protect the unique environment of the Escarpment and defend the laws and policies that serve to protect this irreplaceable landscape. I/We therefore, urge the Niagara Escarpment Commission to initiate a judicial review of the Joint Board’s decision.
[Name of Organization or Individual]