Group opposing gravel pit amidst 'cultural heritage landscape'
Published Thursday, June 24, 2021 4:24PM EDT Last Updated Thursday, June 24, 2021 4:24PM EDT
HURON COUNTY, ONT. -- Rebecca Garrett is leading the charge to keep a gravel pit from replacing a lush landscape in the midst of Huron County.
“They’re not seeing all the riches of this place. The things that people treasure,” says Garrett.
Garrett and her fellow members of Friends of Little Lakes Road are fighting plans to turn about 30 hectares (75 acres) of farm fields and forest that are abutting wetlands, inland lakes and Canada’s last wrought iron double-span bridge, into a gravel pit.
“Everything that’s done here is going to be blown onto the bridge. Dust, contaminants, noise. Everything’s going to go that way to the bridge and into the river,” says Garrett.
Daryl Ball’s family and supporters saved the historic Ball’s Bridge near Auburn, from demolition, about 15 years ago.
He’s worried what effect a gravel pit, just a few hundred metres away, will have on the structure and “recreational” area, used by cyclists, hikers, kayakers and fishermen.
“They haven’t done a study on the whole effect on the bridge. So, we’re hoping they do a full study to preserve the bridge, to make there isn’t going to be any damage to the bridge, with the pit there,” says Ball.
The Little Lakes Road gravel pit proponents, Lobo Sand and Gravel, want to extract up to 500,000 tonnes of sand and gravel from their proposed pit each year.
Melanie Horton of Esher Planning says they anticipate the pit running for 10 to 15 years, and say they have and will rehabilitate the area like they have in previous operations.
But Garrett and Ball are worried about the long-term and short-term impacts heavy equipment will have on this little slice of paradise.
“It has a very high recreational use, this whole road. It’s actually related to Huron County’s tourism plans, so it’s not a great place to have a haulage route full of a hundred dump trucks a day, hauling gravel. I think this area is a provincial treasure, as well as a local treasure,” says Garrett.
An application to rezone the proposed gravel pit area from agricultural to aggregate will come before Ashfield-Colborne-Wawanosh council during a public meeting on July 26.
The ultimate approval of the proposed gravel pit lies with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry.
You can learn more about the Friends of Little Lakes Road here.