In the agreement between the municipality and Strada that was presented at the December 16 meeting of Council there was a section in the agreement which deemed that Strada had to deposit securities for rehabilitation.
The money to be on deposit was $68,000.00, a ridiculous sum of money if anyone really thought they could rehabilitate a gravel pit to agriculture for that. I mean $68,000 wouldn’t even cover Lindsay Lohan’s latest stint in rehab, but at least it was SOMETHING.
Deputy Mayor White (DMW) made the rehabilitation point at that same meeting and there was also something written or mentioned about Strada had provided some “misleading” advice about rehabilitation and were clarifying. Seriously? Do you think an aggregate operation like Strada didn’t know EXCACTLY what they were doing and EXACTLY the rehabilitation process and accidently provided misleading information? I would suspect it was DMW who caught the discrepancy, but I don’t know.
Then the agreement comes before Council this past week together with a recommendation from the township solicitor and planner to sign it. THIS is after the solicitor dropped this little nugget of news: The agreement is basically unenforceable under the Aggregate Resources Act and the only way to ensure that it is enforceable would be to put a holding provision on the OPA/ZBA until the MNR agrees to reference the agreement in the site plan OR to go to court now to have a judge decide of the agreement is valid and enforceable.
OMG-we are paying the lawyer and planner oodles and oodles of money to do their job, which I would think would be to draft an enforceable agreement and site plan, but then what do I know?
And the township solicitor also said the magnitude of this proposal is unlike anything we have seen, the limit of aggregate is uncapped and at full operation we can expect one truck a minute. YES, a MINUTE.
And yet Strada was there advising everyone to just calm down, trust them, they will ensure that everything is looked after, Council doesn’t need to worry their little heads about anything, they don’t need money on deposit for rehabilitation, they don’t need a holding provision.... JUST SIGN THE FREAKING AGREEMENT LIKE RIGHT NOW...... (okay, okay I am paraphrasing but they were a little miffed)
They were even more miffed when DMW talked the lack of financial assurances on deposit for rehabilitation and that even if the agreement is valid and enforceable when they take their shovels and go home, there is no way of forcing them to rehabilitate anyway. And DMW was very clear he wanted it rehabilitated to the site plan standards with agriculture and he again made the correct point that MNR does not have to rehabilitate at all nor to the standards of the site plan or agreement.
Then Council asked a good question. They wanted to Strada to take them to some sites that Strada had rehabilitated.
Wow, you could have heard a pin drop from the Strada side of the table....lots of quick thinking, thinking, thinking....oh yeah. And I am not paraphrasing here..one of the Strada people actually said “they weren’t really that big of an operation and didn’t have alot of rehabilitated pits.” OMG, but we should trust them.
Then they said they had two, one of which they had bought as an empty hole in the ground and turned into a golf course (they must have needed somewhere to dump loads and loads of crap out of another place that they were turning INTO a pit) and then there was another one, blah, blah, blah, but neither had been returned to agricultural.
Councillor Malek asked Strada how any of their operation would benefit Melancthon and there was more silence.
Councillor Malek requested a recorded vote on the resolution to to bring the matter back at the next meeting of Council with a bylaw with the holding provision and Hill/Elliott and Crowe voted yes, White and Malek voted no. So with 3 to 2, I would suggest that this will pass at the next meeting of Council with no financial assurances.
In my OPINION the fact that Strada is not being asked to post financial assurances for rehabilitation is setting a very dangerous precedent for when Highlands drops their application. If you recall the assurances that all parties in Caledon agreed upon was $90 MILLION and theirs was a much smaller operation. And the OMB decreed that no one, not the taxpayers or the province should be on the hook for rehabilitation.
Apparently our lawyer and planner didn't read that decision and only two of our councillors did.