WINCHESTER – Cornwall Gravel’s attempts to bypass lower-tier planning requirements has drawn the ire of Township of North Dundas politicians.
At Tues., Nov. 28’s council meeting, planning director Calvin Pol laid out the most recent requests the company made to the province’s municipal affairs ministry.
In the first case, Cornwall Gravel asked the Ontario government to change the Planning Act notice requirements currently being used by North Dundas.
The township follows Stormont, Dundas, and Glengarry’s expectations, Pol said, posting request notices when they could impact homeowners in certain areas and hosting public meetings to gather feedback.
In Cornwall Gravel’s case, they own land throughout North Dundas for extraction purposes.
Any change to the current procedure could expose the municipality to legal challenges.
“In the big picture, we were three years on making changes to the official plan, and Cornwall Gravel had no comment at the time,” Mayor Eric Duncan said. “Now they’ve tried to circumvent us so they don’t have to answer to the public.”
Added Pol: “It would seem they’re trying to make the environmental stuff disappear.”
In another case, Cornwall Gravel has requested that North Dundas approve three property modifications in the municipality.
The first is for what is known as the Cinanni Pit in Reids Mills. The company is currently pursuing a licence for the land, which would allow them to extract. However, it would only cover a portion of the property, as it features an area of woodland.
Cornwall Gravel wants the woodlot removed, since according to its report it “does not comprise a significant woodland” within the meaning of the Provincial Policy Statement.
“Is there any scientific studies for this?” Duncan questioned. “Seems they don’t care about woodland, they just want to extract.”
Added Councillor Al Armstrong: “Is there no recognition of North Dundas being sorely underserved by woodlots? We’re not a township that can afford to lose two per cent… one per cent… Small woodlots should be taken into account.”
The company is also looking to override the provincially significant wetland designation given to the Morewood Bog. With this request, Cornwall Gravel wants the restrictions on the property lifted to permit extraction efforts.
“This is just an attempt to fast track something instead of doing business,” Armstrong said. “This is not new – they did not purchase rights to the land and the bog suddenly appeared.”
Cornwall Gravel has presented a similar request for the Sullivan Quarry near Chesterville. The area features a layer of significant woodland, which again is impeding extraction efforts.
However, this ask is different, Pol noted, because North Dundas doesn’t currently have a cutting bylaw.
“They could do it… Just removing would circumvent the environmental impact on the property,” he said.
Cornwall Gravel has not answered to any of North Dundas’ concerns, and attempts by the Winchester Press to reach company officials were unsuccessful.
However, Duncan did offer up one suggestion.
“I’d love to invite the applicant and their lawyers to county council in December to hear their answers on the public record,” he said.