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Caledon pit expansion raises concerns in Erin

Pit plan - A conveyor belt under Winston Churchill Blvd. will move Erin gravel into Caledon for processing.  Town of Caledon image

Caledon pit expansion raises concerns in Erin

by Phil Gravelle

ERIN - The proposed expansion of an Erin gravel pit into Town of Caledon territory is raising concerns on both sides of the municipal border.

The existing Erin Pit operated just north of Wellington Road 42 by James Dick Construction Limited (JDCL) extends from 10th Line to Winston Churchill Blvd., which is the Erin-Caledon border. It is located next to the Elora Cataract Trailway to the north and the West Credit River to the south, with a maximum extraction of 925,000 tonnes per year.

JDCL has applied for a Caledon zoning amendment to create a new pit of almost equal size – 309 acres – on existing farmland between Winston Churchill and Shaws Creek Road.

A conveyor belt system would run through a tunnel under Winston Churchill, allowing the processing plant to be moved to the Caledon side and still handle the Erin gravel. Both sides would mine below the water table, with a maximum combined annual extraction rate of 1.8 million tonnes.

Roy Val of Erin, who lives just west of the existing pit, registered his concerns in 2017 about truck traffic and the potential impact on both well water and the nearby river. JDCL responded only recently.

With the volume increasing at JDCL and heavy traffic on Winston Churchill from other local pits, especially Halton Crushed Stone, there will be more pressure on the intersection with Wellington Road 124 to the north. Val said a 1976 OMB ruling on the Erin pit called for construction of turning and merging lanes at that intersection, but they were not built.

He is also concerned about the intersection to the south, at Wellington Road 42, where trucks merge into an 80km speed zone on a curve.

JDCL vice-president Greg Sweetnam agreed that “there is a lot of aggregate-related truck traffic in the area”, referring to a study that showed heavy trucks make up 16 per cent of the flow on Wellington Road 124.

“Peel and Wellington recently reconstructed the intersection at 124 and [Winston Churchill] to their standards, and partially at our cost,” said Sweetnam.

“The road is working well with good service levels and is predicted to remain so until around 2050 where, due to building background traffic, additional controls may be necessary. We remain at the discretion of the road authorities regarding what road improvements they require. In this case no major rebuilds are necessary.”

Val requested assurance that mining below the water table would not affect well water within two kilometres. He also asked about the impact on the West Credit River. Water flow will dilute effluent from Erin’s proposed sewage treatment plant, to be discharged into the river at Winston Churchill.

“We have agreed in writing to guarantee the quality and quantity of water in residential and agricultural wells within 500 metres of our site, which would include your well,” Sweetnam said.

“We have a long history of working in this area, and it is generally accepted that aggregate extraction is not a threat to drinking water.

“With respect to the Erin Wastewater Environmental Assessment, I can confirm that there will not be any material change in the flow rate, volume or quality of the West Credit River.”

At a public meeting last April, Sweetnam said the Erin pit could remain active until about 2072. He estimated operations would not cross the road for 10 to 12 years.

One Caledon resident raised concerns about the health effects of wind-borne particles generated by pit operations. Another said aggregate companies should pay extra for extraction below the water line.

A resident who lives on Shaws Creek urged the company to buy out neighbouring residential properties now, even though extraction operations are not expected to reach the road until the 2050s or 2060s. Sweetnam said by that time, the company will have had several decades to grow a tree screen.

 

January 4, 2019

 
 

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