Thursday, May 31, 2012


For all you non-farmers (and that includes you Highlands, Baupost and Seth) this is what happens when crops don't get enough water:

 You tend to get more germination because that is our biggest problem right now,” said Lewis. “The germination in soybeans has been poor because of the moisture and consequently we aren’t getting as even a stand in the soybeans as we had hoped for.”

Sunday, May 27, 2012


Do what Highlands and Baupost does every day and check out the website. 

The site is great, you can keep informed of their efforts as well as upcoming events. 

Posters, purchasing ads in the paper, etc. is costly and uses alot of volunteer resources, BUT the website is a great way for you to stay informed.

Thursday, May 24, 2012


The Legislature will soon rise for the summer.

And despite the Committee's assurances that the ARA review committee will hit the road this summer to hear from the unwashed and unconnected, without approval in the house and SOON, it just won't happen.

So, please cut and paste and mail to these email addresses, together with the mesage below and send over and over again until we are heard as opposed to being herded like sheep to the slaughter.

Be sure to insert your full name, mailing address and phone number to the bottom of the message below.
 It was two weeks ago today that the Standing Committee on General Government voted unanimously to extend the hearings into the Aggregate Resources Act and travel the province to hold public sessions.
The review of the outdated and flawed ARA is critical to the future of Ontario as we face growing demands for both aggregate, water and food. The ongoing conflict between aggregate, food and agriculture was highlighted at the recent hearings in Toronto, and it was clear further hearings are needed in communities at the centre of this debate. As one of the thousands of Ontarians engaged in the fight to stop the proposed Highland mega quarry in Dufferin County, these hearings are also of great personal interest to me.
I understand that both the PC and NDP House Leaders have accepted the committee's unanimous vote to travel the province and visit existing quarry sites, proposed sites and quarries no longer in operation. Yet, committee members and the public are still awaiting your decision. I urge you to stand with your counterparts and grant the committee's request as soon as possible.
The long-overdue review of the ARA was welcomed when the Liberal government announced it last fall. Ontarians are eager to participate in this vital process. Please give them the opportunity to do so
Please advise me when the decision is made to extend the hearings to the rest of Ontario so we can all voice our opinions with respect to this very important issue.
I look forward to hearing from you.

Sunday, May 20, 2012


8.30 am and it is 30 degrees (that is celcius for you Americans in Boston following this).

Kinda uncomfortably hot.

Must be what it is like in the Baupost Boardroom whenever the subject of their "done deal" Melancthon  Megaquarry comes up on the agenda.  HEHEE

Go enjoy the day people-and remember hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.

Something we can do because we are sitting on the aquifer that serves more than 1 million people.

Saturday, May 19, 2012


At the bottom of this rant, I mean post, is a link to a youtube video, a blog and a news editorials about a municipality called Adelaide Metcalfe. 

The particular issue is about windturbines but it could be anything that has been foisted upon rural Ontario-turbines, incinerators, megaquarries, garbage dumps, compost facilities, and dumping of fill.

What it shows is how the provincial policies on these issues are destroying the fabric of rural Ontario-pitting neighbours against neighbours, Councils against citizens, while of course benefitting Toronto. 

Unlike provincial politicans who can pass policies and legislation and remain relatively obscure, these elected officials and THEIR constituents live in small communities. 

Their kids go to school together, they have one arena, they live next door to each other, they attend the same weddings and funerals, they shop at the same grocery stores etc. 

So watch, and read and see what the provincial policies have done TO (not FOR) Rural Ontario.  


Friday, May 18, 2012


From the on-line Mailbox of the Orangeville Citizen May 17, 2012

Sound legal opinion
Re: ‘Tempest in a teapot?’ in your May 3 issue:

There is a sound legal opinion in the Amberley Gavel Report (August 2011) regarding the role of Mulmur Deputy Mayor Rhonda Campbell-Moon as a member of County Council.

The report clearly states that “a lower tier (township) council cannot dictate how one of its members ought to vote at an upper tier (county) council.”

I have recently experienced a situation that was similar to that of the deputy mayor, in that Mulmur Council took “both harsh and direct” and accusatory action toward me.

I believe that the Mulmur council has taken actions “beyond the authority of council” with both the deputy mayor and myself, all in an effort to intimidate and silence those who ask questions and hold them accountable.

In order for council to represent the interests of the public they should seek input and community collaboration, not personal attacks and silencing tactics. No wonder ratepayers stay clear of council meetings.

Randy Pendleton

DEAR MR. PENDLETON (and Campbell Moon and her Council cohort):

You may not realize it, but Amberley Gavel is NOT a law firm nor is their report in anyway shape or form a "legal opinion". 

It can't be a legal opinion as the meeting investigator is not retained as a lawyer.

AND as far as the Deputy Mayor not having to vote the way Council tells her....that may be so, but she is going to find out the hard way they were doing her a favour as she seems to have an absolute lack of political acuity.

Mulmur Council requested the Deputy Mayor vote at County Council in a particular way, because unlike her, they sought input as to how the community wanted them to vote on the rail issue.

I believe the Deputy Mayor will find this out the hard way at the next municipal election.

In the meantime, think of all the taxpayer money she is wasting on frivoulous lawsuits, based on nothing more than hurt feelings. 

Just wondering: why she is so fiscally concerned about how much the Honeywood arena costs to operate, but has no qualms about bankrupting the municipality with her personal vendentta, I mean lawsuit, paid for by taxpayers and her poor husband.


May 7, 2012

May 9, 2012

I will provide links to May 14 and 16th when available.

Thursday, May 17, 2012


Thanks DT for this:
"Despite all of our accomplishments,
we owe our entire existence
to six inches of topsoil and the fact that it rains"
Ontario Federation of Agriculture, May 16, 2012

It was standing room only at the hearings into the Aggregate Resources Act yesterday afternoon and a huge thanks to all of you who made the trip to Queen's Park to support NDACT chair Carl Cosack!

It was the first time in the 12 hours of hearings that applause broke out after a presentation. It certainly served notice to the MPPs on the committee that the fight to stop the proposed mega quarry is vigorous and vocal. Highland's lawyer, who had been there throughout the hearings tucked into a corner scribbling furiously, ducked from the room shortly afterward.

Carl's presentation was the last of the day and the best-received. He spoke of the need to protect prime farmland from aggregate extraction and the recklessness of Highland's application to blast 200 feet below the water table. Aggregate producers told the committee they are not "water consumers but water handlers." Carl pointed out there's nothing benign about "handling" 600-million litres of fresh water every day in perpetuity. He said our water sources should be "protected in perpetuity not pumped in perpetuity."

The Ontario Federation of Agriculture also made an excellent presentation, outlining the staggering loss of farmland each year. (127-thousand acres/annually) \

When asked about the competing demands of aggregate and food production, the OFA representative responded: 

"What would you prefer: a bumpy road to the supermarket or a smooth ride to starvation?" 

A few chuckles at that one!

At the end of the presentations, the committee unanimously passed another motion reiterating its desire to travel the province and hold extensive hearings.

We're waiting for the Liberal House Leader to give the green-light as both the Conservative and NDP House Leaders have already agreed.

If there's a snag, we'll let you know!


As always thanks to DB for this contribution:
Notes from yesterday's ARA Review Hearing (16-May-2012). This was a more easily digested hearing with 8 presentations over 2 hours. 
The gallery was full and for the Stop the Mega-Quarry crowd there was anticipation in the air since Carl Cosack would be wrapping up the day as the last speaker.

The series of presentations was pretty evenly split between the "fors" and "againsts". The MPPs seem to be feeling more at ease with the subject matter as they often opted to comment rather than ask questions.

From my point of view, the aggregate industry is starting to sound pathetic with their "close to market" mantra and their "the royalty is too low, we support a significant increase" pay-off tactic. 

Sylvia Jones pointed out that the $0.115 royalty can be increased without amendment to the ARA. 

Increasing this fee will not be a victory for Ontarians. 

Increasing this fee is merely belated administrative housekeeping. Two presenters to-date have estimated that the fee should be around $1/tonne just to cover costs to road infrastructure. 

It makes me wonder what has stopped this fee from being increased on a regular basis? Even my local curling club pays an annual 5% rent increase. How has the industry got away with such a low fee for so long?

The "close to market" policy in the Provincial Policy Statement is rather cyptic today. 

It states that as much aggregate as realistically possible shall be made available as close to markets as possible. It is unclear why this policy was added given that normal supply/demand would determine the distance/cost of supply. 

Perhaps this policy was added to ensure one locality didn't
exploit another locality's resources before using their own. 

Or perhaps it was made to save the government money by keeping transportation cheap. 

Whatever the reason, the effect of the policy is to justify aggregate pits on prime farmland and in protected environmental spaces. 

Today we have to find a balance.

For me the Ontario Federation of Agriculture said it best when they asked

"What would you rather have: a bumpy road to the supermarket or a smooth road to starvation?" 

It pretty much says it all right there.


Perhaps the proposal to take another 2,300 acres out of prime agricultural production to dig a honking big hole in the ground IS a federal issue?

At least so says the UN:
Canada is ignoring its international obligations to ensure all Canadians have access to food, a United Nations official said Wednesday after completing an 11-day tour of the country.
Olivier De Schutter, the UN special rapporteur on the right to food, said 800,000 families -- nearly two million people -- in Canada don't always know where their next meal is coming from. He said one in 10 families with kids under the age of six is 'food insecure,' meaning they don't have physical and economic access to an adequate amount of nutritious and safe food.
"I have to say my concerns are extremely severe, and I don't see why I should mince my words," he said.

I will go out on a limb here and suggest, as did the Chair of NDACT at the Aggregate Resources Act committee review, that "close to market" should apply to food and water as well as aggregate.

MP Kent, back to you.  Although you may actually have to pull your head out of your ass to read this......


Wednesday, May 16, 2012


@teamhighland (aka Hill of Beans and knowlton) made 121 tweets between July 21, 2011 and March 30, 2102.  

At that point they seemed to have realized their campaign was toast and they threw in the towel.

Their "savy social media campaign" (insert awkward cough here) amounted to about 15 tweets a month, or one every two days. 

The campaign was ineffectual, unsophisticated, unfocused and well, lame. (Wonder how much each tweet costs Baupost??). 

On the other hand @teamheadwaters (aka the good guys), made 3,872 tweets between September 7, 2011 and May 16, 2012. 

Their social media campaign amounted to an astonishing 484 tweets a month or 16 a DAY which were timely, witty, extremely effectual and oh yeah free.

So why has Hob&K seemingly thrown in the towel?

Particularly since Hob&K’s website advises the world:
Social Media
Our digital strategists work with you to encourage product trial, create brand connection, change behaviour, support a cause, evolve communities, put together networks – whatever it takes to help meet your business or organization goal.
We understand social storytelling, so we create compelling content.
We understand advocacy, so we fashion social campaigns that move influencers.
We thrive on research-driven strategies, so we develop - and measure - ingenious social web programs to connect you with customers and stakeholders.
We have been working with clients on digital strategies for longer than there's been a social web. And it shows - in thorough well-researched digital strategies, smart social platforms, and online communities that change minds and animate action.
IN MY OPINION, H0b&K needs to take a seminar from the mastermind behind @Teamheadwaters.


NDACT Chair Carl Cosack Presentation before the Standing Committee on General Government Hearings to review the Aggregate Resources ActMay 16, 2012

Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.

My name is Carl Cosack and I am the chair of the North Dufferin Agricultural and Community Taskforce, or NDACT.

Thank you for giving me the time to speak today and to share our thoughts on the reviewof the Aggregate Resources Act.

NDACT was formed three years ago when the larger North Dufferin community learned about the Highland Companies plans for a massive quarry in the potato fields of Melancthon, just 90 minutes northwest of Queen’s Park.

We have several hundred members and thousands of supporters actively engaged in the effort to save the land and its water. My comments will address Agriculture and Water issues only.

While these hearings are not about the proposed Highland Companies mega quarry, it is because of the mega quarry application that we are here today.

The application for the largest quarry in Canadian history in the midst of a 15,000-acre plateau of farmland has highlighted the ongoing conflict between aggregate and agriculture.

This committee has the unique opportunity to bridge those conflicts because really, aggregate operators and agriculture have much in common.

We all use aggregate, we all raise children, we all eat food and we all need clean, fresh water. Non-partisan thinking will develop better policies for a better Ontario.

Representatives from the aggregate industry argue that Ontario must maintain a “close to market” approach when it comes to aggregate.

That approach is part of the PPS.

The PPS is a policy, not law, and it is within your mandate to improve those policies that are not working for the people of this province.

In southern Ontario, “Close to Market” means  “too close to prime farmland”, the very land that is extremely rare, highly productive and a major factor in the province’s economy.

“Close to market” policy should not be restricted to the aggregate industry. 

“Close to market” is equally important to the food producing sector of our economy.

You already know that a mere point-five percent of Canada is made of up Class 1 agricultural land.

This is the finest soil in which to grow our food. Of that point-five percent, more than half of it is right here in southern Ontario.

In fact, the farm land at the centre of the mega quarry controversy is Class 1 soil known as Honeywood Silt Loam. It exists nowhere else in Ontario in this contiguous  manner.

Agriculture contributes to the economic well-being of the province 100 acres at a time, just like aggregate contributes to the province’s economy one pit or quarry, at a time.

Our prime farmland is a unique resource and it is providing Ontario with tremendous economic benefits. Ontario’s agri-food sector is bigger than the auto sector.

The industry contributes 33 BILLION dollars to the provincial economy each year,and jobs for 700-thousand Ontarians who draw SEVEN BILLION dollars in wages. Our agri-food industry is the largest in Canada.

According to the government’s own figures, agri-food exports hit a record high last year of nearly TEN BILLION dollars. Ontario contributes 22 percent of Canada’s agri-food exports.

We are blessed with land that will always produce crops, fruits and vegetables,dairy products and meat, thanks to our soil and climate conditions.

The land is a renewable resource that will continue pouring billions of dollars into our economy provide jobs and food for as long as humans need to work and eat … long as we protect it.  

It is vital to our province’s economy, and its citizens.

ARA policy should recognize that we can not support the aggregate sector of the economy at the expense of the agricultural community. 

ARA policy should ensure the sector that is renewable deserves at least the same consideration as aggregate does.

NDACT strongly argues that our prime farmland, which includes Class 1, 2 and 3 soils, whether in Melancthon or elsewhere in Ontario, should be protected from all aggregate extraction.

We are not against aggregate.

We need it for our roads, buildings and many other products.

We believe we should pursue other options such as more aggregate recycling, alternative technologies, investigate other kinds of rock to build our  infrastructure and other locations which don’t impact prime food-producing lands.

One example, the Ontario Sand, Stone and Gravel Association has some bright people working on research to recycle old concrete, a process that could allow old concrete to be used as concrete again.

Your committee can help create polices that will lever the expertise that  is  out  there to find  solutions. 

We have the technology today to develop new products.  We can develop criteria, a framework, for “Willing Host Communities.”

There is unprecedented public involvement in this issue and unprecedented offers to help find solutions.

As an example, you will receive a written submission, prepared by Garry Hunter for Rutledge Farms, and we endorse most of the technical recommendations it includes.

You can challenge us collectively to do better than the status quo, because we must do better.

In addition to the ongoing threat to prime farmland, there is also the issue of water.

The aggregate industry states that aggregate operations are “not water consumers but water handlers.”

This makes it seem as though “water handling” is a benign process.

We respect that this hearing is not about the mega quarry, yet, the Highland application symbolizes all that is wrong with our current ARA legislation.

A policy that would even consider permitting excavation 200 feet below the water table and the handling of 600 million liters of fresh water daily, in perpetuity is not putting the needs of the people of  this  province  first.

 We believe that any application involving below the water table extraction should automatically be referred to a full Environmental Assessment and that Source Water regions and Watersheds should be protected in perpetuity, not pumped in perpetuity.

Any policy that would allow a private company, foreign or domestic, to effectively control the amount of fresh water used each day by 8 million Ontario residents is deeply flawed and at best, reckless and irresponsible.

The Highland Companies application would impact the drinking water of up to one million people downstream - along with fish, wildlife and whole ecosystems.

All would have to depend on this “water handling” to operate without complications, human error or contamination.

As a society, we have learned, through the Walkerton tragedy and other water contamination issues, that our  number one priority today, and for our children tomorrow, is  to  ensure safe drinking water and to eliminate all man-made risks to our fresh drinking water sources.

 The Aggregate Resources Act must not allow applications that pose such an enormous risk to the health of Ontarians.

We are not alone in this sentiment.

Last October, NDACT helped organize an eventcalled “Foodstock” and it was held on a potato farm adjacent to the proposed mega quarry site.

 28-THOUSAND people came from across the province to enjoy gourmet dishes prepared by 100 chefs using local ingredients.

The slogan of the day  was “Save the Land that Feeds Us

It is an appropriate motto for all of Ontario’s food-producing regions facing aggregate applications.

In conclusion, I would like to say that NDACT’s position is clear and we thank the committee for giving it careful consideration.

There are additional notes attached to this written presentation which can help kick-start dialogue.

I also thank you for agreeing to travel the province to hear from  Ontarians engaged in this critical  debate.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


The Committee reviewing the Aggregate Resources Act has agreed to go on the road to hear from more Ontarians and they made a recommendation to the house.
SO on the advice and request of a diligent volunteer DB, please contact the following MPPs/staff members and give them a bit of a push. Cut & paste the following:

The House Leaders have not yet agreed to the Standing Committee on General Government's (SCGG) request to travel in regard to the Aggregate Resource Act (ARA) Review. I am a Resident and Taxpayer of Ontario. I would like to see the SCGG visit communities that are or will be impacted by aggregate operations. I would also like to see the SCGG accept and consider further public input beyond the last scheduled ARA Review hearing tomorrow. Please answer "Yes" to the SCGG's travel request. Thank you.

To House Leaders:
Gilles Bisson (NDP)
John Yakabuski (PC)
David Orazietti (LIB, Sault Ste. Marie) (
Sylvia Jones (PC, Dufferin-Caledon) (


Excerpts from someone who attended yesterdays ARA hearing:
It was an exhausting 16 presentations over 4 hours. There was a lot of information. It became clear to me that the MPPs rarely ask questions that they don't know the answer to, and that they use their question as an opportunity to go on the record. It also became clear that the Committee is just starting to understand the magnitude of the problems around aggregate, and that such understanding contradicts their mandate of recommending quick fixes.

Some quick fixes are easy to pick out: a substantial increase to the aggregate royalty (currently $0.115 per tonne), encouragement to increase the use of recycled aggregate product, greater focus on rehabilitation. However, the more difficult problems (protection of specific land types, protection of source water, long-term transportation into the GTA, full cost accounting, compensation for all impacted municipalities (i.e. roads), rehabilitation, understaffing at the MNR for inspection and monitoring, MNR's predisposition toward industry, etc.) will not be so easily solved.

The star for me was Bill Hill, Mayor of Melancthon who came out firmly against the proposed mega-quarry with these words:

“In closing, I would like to suggest that those that support the concept of a mega quarry take a short drive up the road to our Township. I will personally introduce you to the multi-generational farmers who are concerned and worried for their future and livelihood as they have not sold out. I will introduce you to the business owners who have seen their business decline because they may deal with one side or the other of the quarry issue. I will show you where 30 homesteads once stood that have been torn down to make room for the quarry. I will introduce you to Women’s Institute Members who have challenges rounding up support and pies for their long standing “strawberry suppers”. All this, before a shovel has hit the ground. It is easy for some to support a concept that will not impact them or their Community.” Bill Hill, Mayor of Melancthon in a letter to the Standing Committee on General Government (May 14, 2012)

As at the end of the meeting last night, the Standing Committee had not yet received an answer from their request to the House Leaders to travel to Ontario's communities for further investigation. (Time to write more e-mails!)
Thank you DB!!

Monday, May 14, 2012


Word on the street about the Aggregate Resource Act review hearings today....Mayor Bill Hill came out very strong.
“In closing, I would like to suggest that those that support the concept of a mega quarry take a short drive up the road to our Township. I will personally introduce you to the multi-generational farmers who are concerned and worried for their future and livelihood as they have not sold out. I will introduce you to the business owners who have seen their business decline because they may deal with one side or the other of the quarry issue. I will show you where 30 homesteads once stood that have been torn down to make room for the quarry. I will introduce you to Women’s Institute Members who have challenges rounding up support and pies for their long standing “strawberry suppers”. All this, before a shovel has hit the ground. It is easy for some to support a concept that will not impact them or their Community.” Bill Hill, letter to Standing Committe on General Government, May 14, 2012

Kudos and thanks very much.

I once heard someone (Carl Cosack) comment on this issue and our local Councils, "If you lead, we will follow".

I am going all Pied Piper on Mayor Hill right now!!

Oh my God, I do believe I have a heart.

Who knew?

Sunday, May 13, 2012




Monday, May 14, 2012

Committee Room 228

Review of the Aggregate Resources Act

2:00 p.m.
Gravel Watch OntarioRic Holt, President
2:15 p.m.
EarthrootsJosh Garfinkel, Senior Campaigner
2:30 p.m.
Top Aggregate Producing Municipalities of OntarioMarolyn Morrison, Mayor, Caledon
Doug Barnes, Executive Director
2:45 p.m.
Cement Association of CanadaMichael McSweeney, President
3:00 p.m.
Ontario Professional Planners InstitutePaul Stagl, President-Elect
Steven Rowe, Member, Policy Development Committee
3:15 p.m.
Ontario Good Roads Association (OGRA)Scott Butler, Manager, Policy and Research
3:30 p.m.
North Dufferin Agricultural Community TaskforceChristina Wigle
3:45 p.m.
Municipality of West GreyKevin Eccles, Mayor
4:00 p.m.
Township of Melancthon
Bill Hill
, Mayor
4:15 p.m.
Friends of Rural Communities and the Environment (FORCE)Graham Flint, Chairman
4:30 p.m.
Canadian Environmental Law AssociationJoseph Castrilli, Counsel
Ramani Nadarajah, Counsel
4:45 p.m.
Ontario Farmland TrustMatt Setzkorn, Policy Coordinator
5:00 p.m.
National Farmers Union in OntarioAnn Slater, Coordinator
5:15 p.m.
Council of CanadiansMark Calzavara, Regional Organizer
5:30 p.m.
Ontario NatureCaroline Schultz, Executive Director
5:45 p.m.
Canadian Network for Respiratory CareCheryl Connors, Executive Director

            - SUBJECT TO CHANGE -