A Movement is Born
In 2011, a non-Canadian hedge fund proposed digging a huge limestone quarry near Shelburne, Ontario, asking to sacrifice some of the best farmland in Ontario.
The proposal to dig 200+ feet below the water table and pump up to 600 million litres of water per day was expected to impact the source water area of five (5) significant rivers (Beaver, Grand, Nottawasaga, Pine, Saugeen).
Luckily the roar of the opposition was so loud that the proponent withdrew the application at the end of 2012.
While people celebrated, it didn’t take long to realize that the farmland and local water sources are not protected from similar proposals because the limestone is still there under the farms.
So the Food and Water First (www.foodandwaterfirst.com) movement was born.
The movement is dedicated to protecting Ontario’s prime farmland and source water regions by working to encourage the Government of Ontario to adopt a strategy that gives food and water top priority in land-use planning.
History – More about “Stop the Mega Quarry”
In the Township of Melancthon, north of Shelburne, about 1-1/2 hours north west of Toronto, there is a 15,000 acre plateau of amazing farmland. The area produces 50% of the greater Toronto area’s potatoes in addition to other vegetables. The land has terrific moisture and drainage thanks to the water table and limestone underlying the high quality soil.
The plateau is the headwaters for five rivers (Pine, Grand, Nottawasaga, Saugeen and Beaver) that flow to Lake Erie, Lake Huron and the Georgian Bay. The proposal was a contamination risk to source water for one million people downstream.
Starting around 2005, local farms were quietly purchased by a mining prospector until roughly 8,000 acres were accumulated. Farmland was relatively cheap and the prospector paid above-market prices. Once a large enough contiguous area was established, he sold the whole kit and caboodle to a U.S. hedge fund.
In 2011, a quarry application was filed. The application proposed digging a limestone quarry on 2,400 acres (the size of 1,750 Canadian football fields), 200+ feet deep (almost the depth of a 20-storey building) below the water table. The operation would need to pump an estimated 600 million litres of water per day just to stay dry.
Local farmers, First Nations, residents, chefs, fishermen, artists, vacationers, teachers, students and anyone who realized the importance of food, water and the land put up a fight — “Stop the Mega Quarry”.
It was a clash of the titans. The fight pitted the need for aggregate against the need for fresh local food and clean water.
At the end of 2012, the pro-food/water roar was so loud that the proponent withdrew the application. The mega quarry fight came to an end.
Well sort of …
Concerned citizens realize that the limestone is still beneath the farmland and therefore, the farmland and headwaters are still threatened.