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A worried career of environmental groups

Natasha Kumar By Natasha Kumar Jan11,2024

A career worried by environmental groups

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The proposed gravel pit site is an ideal habitat for endangered Blanding's turtles. (Archive photo)

  • Félix Hallée-Théoret (View profile)Félix Hallée-Théoret

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A potential gravel quarry site, on the north shore of Lake Huron, is far from unanimously supported by residents of the region.

Darien Aggregates Inc. has been planning to operate a site near Blind River since 2016.

The North Shore Township municipal council approved the zoning change in November 2019 that would allow the project to move forward.

At the time, a group of local citizens retained a lawyer to appeal the decision.

With the Ford government's changes to the process for approving new projects, municipal governments are no longer part of the process, and the decision is up to now entirely from the province.

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No decision has yet been made by the province in this matter, but everything indicates that Darien Aggregates Inc. still intends to exploit the place.

In a written response, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry confirms that Darien Aggregates Inc. is about to end its consultation period, and that the project will not be able to move forward if the company does not respect the environmental guidelines of the ministry.

According to environmental groups, this quarry would be devastating for several species, including the Blanding's turtle, an endangered species.

A study conducted by students at Laurentian University in 2019 found that the population density of these turtles in the identified location is among the highest for this species.

The study also concluded that the targeted location is an ideal environment for these turtles, since they do not need to travel very far to meet their dietary needs.

Rhonda Kirby is one of the citizens of the region who has opposed the project for several years.

She is president of the group North Shore Environmental Resource Advocates, which has been organizing opposition to this project for 7 years and is now calling for a moratorium on new gravel pits.

She is particularly concerned about the damage that would be caused by the establishment of this quarry, not only on the Blanding's turtle population, but also on other species.

There are at least four other endangered species in the region. It’s an important feeding place for moose, she explains. These swamps are part of the watershed of the Serpent River, Lake Lauzon, and Lake Huron.

She points out that some of the environmental damage will not be immediately visible, but the damage will be done. We can't go back.

According to Ms. Kirby, this new career is not even necessary, since there are in the region #x27;other quarries which could be exploited for a long time to come.

It’s greed. This is not a need.

A quote from Rhonda Kirby, President, North Shore Environmental Resource Advocates

Mining companies have an obligation for environmental remediation, but Ms. Kirby is not very optimistic in this regard. No one believes that there will be a full rehabilitation on this site.

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Although she is discouraged by the lack of listening from the provincial government, Ms. Kirby says she sees a glimmer of hope in the recent report from the Auditor General of Ontario, which highlights the shortcomings of the consultation process and the lack of monitoring for the gravel mining industry in Ontario.

I hope this will lead to awareness among the population. The public has the right to have a say in what happens in their yards.

  • Félix Hallée-Théoret (View profile)Félix Hallée-Théoret Follow
Natasha Kumar

By Natasha Kumar

Natasha Kumar has been a reporter on the news desk since 2018. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Times Hub, Natasha Kumar worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my 1-800-268-7116

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