Friday, November 30, 2012


Highlands pulled this nonsense too.
Maybe time they tried a new approach, something like the truth?
Quarry owner maintains he’s had ‘no secrets’ about his application
Paul Ritchie says his long road to open a quarry next door to Bobcaygeon has never been a secret, and he’s surprised at opposition coming forward at the eleventh hour.

Thursday, November 29, 2012


Seth must be losing sleep and more importantly to him, money these days.

"Zamansky & Associates is currently investigating the Baupost Group LLC (“Baupost”) hedge funds over its investment in the Highlands’ “mega-quarry” in Ontario, Canada.

Baupost is the based in Boston, MA, hedge fund group with reported assets under management of $22 billion. Founded by Seth Klarman in 1982, Baupost has a successful record at “value investing”.

In 2006, according to public reports, Baupost formed Highland Companies, a Nova Scotia-based corporation that began buying farmland in Melancthon Township, approximately 120 kilometres north of Toronto, Ontario, purportedly for the purpose of farming.

By early 2011, Highland amassed over 7,000 acres that it actively farmed. Highland, then, submitted an application for a 2,316 acre Amabel dolostone (limestone) mega-quarry.

The application saw heated opposition, as opponents raise concerns about groundwater contamination, local heritage, food security concerns, truck traffic congestion, highway safety, noise and dust pollution.

On November 21, 2012, Highland withdrew the application, in the face of the fierce opposition.

Zamansky’s investigation concerns whether Baupost’s stake and/or activities associated with the “mega-quarry” breached duties owed to investors. In particular, Zamansky is investigating whether such a venture capital development as the mega-quarry investment was authorized for the value-oriented Baupost funds, and whether the risks were sufficiently disclosed.

Recently, Baupost’s research has come under fire when it was caught holding a large position in Hewlett-Packard Corporation (”HP”) after it announced an $8 billion writedown associated with accounting fraud in the Autonomy merger.

HP took previous hits when it took a writedown for its EDS merger, and its sudden business strategy change to-then-abrupt reversal-away-from mobile devices. HP also has two CEOs resign in three years.

Critics have questioned whether Baupost’s bet on HP was reflective of disciplined value investing for which it has been known.

If you invested in any of the Baupost funds which suffered a loss from the Highlands’ mega-quarry failure, please contact Jake Zamansky at 212 742-1414 or for a free and confidential consultation with one of our securities attorneys.

Entire article at this link

Just wondering, do you think Bruce and Mavis and Lowndes and Daniher can join the Zamansky lawsuit? 



Great article by the Orangeville Banner, click the link and read all about it. 

Selected quotes:

"The Armstrongs were joined by the Blacks, Frenchs, Vander Zaags, Rutledges and Wallaces in their refusal to accept a cheque from the company owned by Baupost, a $25 billion United States-based hedge fund."

"Today, the Facebook group Stop The Quarry has more than 6,000 likes. On Twitter @stopthemegaquarry has 3,000 followers and @teamheadwaters has about 880 followers. In comparison, about 330 people follow Highland on Twitter."

"Cosack believes Highland was the producer of its own application’s demise. “It’s not so much that we were brilliant. We were honest and grounded, but the application was so bad,” Cosack said. “It never had a chance to succeed once people figured out the facts associated with it.”


Sung to the tune of Jingle Bells:

Holy Hell, Highlands fell
What a happy day
Oh what fun, it was to drive
Highlands mine away!! HEY

Holy Hell, Baupost fell
What a joyous day
Oh what fun, it was to spend
Baupost's money that way!! HEY

Alarm bells began to ring
Making people fight
And the world began to sing
When all was put just right!! HEY

Holy Hell, .... (repeat ad naseum)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


There seems to be alot of sniping about who is taking credit for stopping the quarry, who was there first, etc. etc..

Frankly, there is not one single individual or organization or group that could have done it on their own.

It started as a rag tag bunch of people around kitchen tables and turned into a global movement, so I say the bandwagon is big enough for everyone, hop on.

And remember, reporters can twist words to put a spin on a story and I wouldn't be surprised if Hill and Knowlton have some friends in the press who are quite happy to drive a wedge between the movement. 

So don't let them.

So lets celebrate now and enjoy the season, and then move on, as a unified and cohesive group, to finally cut the head off this beast and protect all farmland in Ontario.

Monday, November 26, 2012


The Orangeville Mayor is lamenting the death of the Mega Quarry proposal, because of course he had a cushy deal with them.  Highlands paid Orangeville (you know that municipality that holds most of the votes in the County with the weighted vote system) $500,000 a year on some convoluted deal with Orangeville’s rail lands. 

NOW Adams is whining the $500,000 has to come out of Orangeville taxpayers pockets.

The fact is Orangeville is in the rail mess because of Adams and MP David Tilson agrees:

"Mr. Tilson also expressed little sympathy for Mayor Adams, recalling that it was the same mayor and his council that went after Mr. Tilson, an MPP at the time, for not supporting Orangeville in its bid to buy the railway approximately 11 years ago.

“They were so upset. So I got them $2 million, no strings attached, Now, years later, they want to sell it and I’ve never heard a good reason why.”

So here is a repost of some of the July 22, 2011 post on this blog to remind people what transpired:

To follow this little saga I am providing a cast of characters:
MAIN CHARACTER: Rob Adams, Mayor of Orangeville

And that is pretty much it, all you need to know.
Abbreviated version:
  • Orangeville/Adams bought the rail line as an economic driver for Orangeville
  • Cost $3.5 million, $2 million of which was paid for the by taxpayers of Ontario NOT Orangeville
  • Net cost to Orangeville $1.5 million
  • Rail proved not to be financially viable
  • Orangeville/Adams enters into an agreement to sell the rail line to Highlands for $7 million (including the “bonus” of $2 million)
  • Net gain to Adams $5 million not including the $500,000 annually paid by Highlands on property taxes
  • Loss of respect of most ratepayers in Dufferin-priceless

Long story, so, hang on to your hat, here we go:

In 2000, the then Orangeville Mayor, Rob Adams, had a brilliant idea.

He would purchase the abandoned rail line in Orangeville positioning it to his ratepayers as the economic salvation of his town.

The then MPP, David Tilson (now MP Tilson) managed to secure a no strings $2 million provincial grant and put that towards the $3.5 purchase price.  (Note: a no strings grant in government speak is you don't have to pay it back, no matter what and that means the PROVINCIAL taxpayers paid to help Orangeville out.)

So good on Tilson.  He did what an MPP is supposed to do. 
Help bolster the economy for his local constituents. I bet now he wishes he had taken a harder look at the business plan though.

The railroad purchase then was a steal at a net cost of $1.5 million for Orangeville.

The Orangeville Railway Development Corporation (ORDC), now managed by the Orangeville Brampton Railway Corporation OBRC) was formed.

The formation of the ORDC was permitted under the Municipal Act, which basically lets municipalities form corporations, who then are no longer bound by those pesky open meeting rules in the Municipal Act,  (or union rules or anything other than private corporation rules).

So fair enough.
The future was so bright for Rob Adams at that time, he had to wear shades.

Except, and here comes the except, Mayor Adams didn’t have the foresight to realize that Orangeville is ONLY 30 km from Brampton.

I guess he didn't realize that by the time an industrial business loads freight on to a truck, drives it to an Orangeville train depot, unloads it off a truck onto the train, then unloads it off the train at the Brampton depot and trucks it somewhere in Brampton or the GTA, it is a hell of a lot faster to just truck it in the first place.

Good God, any 4 year old that plays with a Thomas the Tank set would know that.

Mayor Adams also also seemed to fail to recognize that while there were benefits to him as an elected official of forming a development corporation (again, he would be away from glare of the pesky public and press) there would also be negatives.

Private corporations pay taxes.

And pay taxes this rail corporation does.

To the tune of $500,000.00 a year.

So in 2008, along comes Orangeville’s saviour the Highland Companies aka Baupost who were looking for a little corridor from Melancthon to Owen Sound to “enhance” their existing agricultural operations, they said.

 In 2009 Orangeville and Highlands entered into an agreement of purchase and sale, with Highlands agreeing to pay $5 million for the purchase of the rail line in Orangeville, with an additional $2 million being paid to Orangeville when the remaining County railbed was sold to Highlands and the track laid.

And yeah, I forgot this little detail. Can you guess who offered and is paying the annual property taxes on behalf of Orangeville until the deal is closed?

All together now....survey says: Highlands. To the tune of $500,000 per year.

Saturday, November 24, 2012


In the spirit of the season-not Christmas-but that of running Highlands out of town, please enjoy the following, hummed/sung to the tune of

We were told to watch out
For Seth that shy guy
We were told to clear out
I'm telling you why

CAUSE Highlands had arrived in
Our Town

They burned down thirty houses
The trees they tried to clear
They mapped all of the limestone
But there was no need to fear

CAUSE Baupost shoulda watched out
Those insanely rich guys
They shoulda watched out
I am telling them why

Cause we've run Highlands out of
Our Town

We knew what they were plotting
And their plans were pretty lame
We know that they've been bad not good
And we've beat them at their game

SO, Seth shoulda watched out
That really shy guy
He shoulda watched out
I'm telling him why

CAUSE we've just ran Baupost outta
Our Town


Baupost’s Highland Scraps Plan for Canada Rock Quarry
"An investor group that includes Seth Klarman’s Baupost Group LLC withdrew a proposal to build a rock quarry in Ontario after local residents opposed the plan.

Baupost Group’s Highland Companies Resign in Battle Over Mega-Quarry Deal
Good news for farmers, but bad for the $26 billion hedge fund, Baupost Group. Seth Klarman has a controlling stake in Highland Companies. The project, had it materialized, would have given Baupost control over the second largest limestone mine in North America, with deposits worth billion of dollars.

The abandonment of the Melancthon quarry project is one of the rare representations of successful activism from the community.


AND as much as I would LOVE to run a poll on what career people feel Lowndes should move on to,
I do hate to kick a man when he is down....
but when gets back up on his feet, watch out.

Friday, November 23, 2012


Great article, great quotes:
  • What was to be the largest quarry in Canada is now a lesson in humility
  • the biggest take away from the Melancthon quarry debate — those who opposed the quarry won by making it a personal issue to a larger audience.

  • The whole affair can be seen as a win for the "lawn-sign protesters" who opposed the quarry without resorting to angry foot stomping and vitriolic threats
  • Sylvia Jones, provincial representative for the region, congratulated residents for running a strong and coherent grassroots campaign against the quarry.


Thursday, November 22, 2012


I wanted to, but couldn't have said it any better so here is a message from one of the movers and shakers who really moved and shook the movement:
Maybe it was the famous lawn signs in the country and city.
Perhaps it was all the letters, the petitions or the thousands who attended Soupstock just one month ago.
Whatever it was, it worked.
Highland's sudden surrender ended a 17-month-long fight to stop the proposed mega quarry.
It also made history.
Never before has a group of ordinary citizens taken on such a formidable challenge and triumphed in such a short amount of time.
There are so many people to thank, starting with those who first stood up to Highland.
Forgive me if I've left anyone out. It's been a wild 24 hours.
The farming families - Armstrongs, Vander Zaags, Rutledges, Frenches, Blacks - did not sell their properties, and have been on the frontline of the mega quarry fight for years.
Their properties are adjacent to what is now the former proposed site.
Others who had sold their land after being misled by Highland - the Parsons family - also joined the fight.
We appreciate everyone's strength of character, great humour and resilience. (You were all meant to be media stars!) Without them, this rare farmland and its precious water would have been lost.
NDACT chair Carl Cosack has been amazing. He's run his large cattle ranch while juggling questions from reporters, appearing before school groups, meeting with politicians, attending art exhibits and, just yesterday, speaking to the Environmental Law Society at Osgoode Hall Law school.
Carl was on his way to speak to the students when he learned the mega quarry had been defeated. Thankfully, he did not drive off the road!
Carl, thanks for leading this campaign with endless enthusiasm and great dignity. Plus, we love your pink shirts and white cowboy hats!
And to everyone who plunked a lawn sign in their yard, volunteered at a farmers' market, signed a petition, wrote a letter, challenged a politician, held a placard, painted a canvass, played an instrument, posted a comment, attended an event, handed out brochures, wrote a cheque, made a video, called a phone-in show, composed a song or shared these e-mail updates....thank you.
This movement was described in the Globe and Mail as a "model for non-violent resistance." Others are calling the campaign "masterful" and "brilliant" as if there were committees gathered around tables plotting strategy.
Sorry to disappoint our admirers, but it was simply good people rallying against a terrible proposal.
It was all of us pitching in when asked, coming up with creative ideas and carrying them out in a positive way. 
We have never been engaged in something of this magnitude.
Most of us had never attended a demonstration or written a politician.
We all looked awkward holding our protest signs at Queen's Park.
But, we stopped a $25-billion hedge fund with $10 lawn signs. Maybe that was rather brilliant, after all!
As we savour what's been accomplished and the legacy we've all created, there's still some work to do.
Stopping the mega quarry was a huge victory.
The farmland and water beneath its fields have been saved.
But, the Provincial Policy Statement still doesn't protect prime farmland and vital water resources from similar projects.
The fight may be over, but the job isn't done.
So, please take a few minutes tonight or tomorrow and send in your PPS letters to the addresses provided in an earlier update. It's important for us to see this through!
As well, there's the Liberal leadership campaign and a looming provincial election.
Every candidate must be asked: What will you do to protect Ontario's prime farmland and water resources from aggregate extraction and other developments?
Stay close to your keyboards.
When this fight began, it became clear that we were all engaged in something significant. Not many people experience what we've experienced. We took on an extraordinary challenge and won. We protected a vital part of this beautiful province for the families who grow our food and feed our cities. We made a difference. Lucky us.
Thank you all again! This story isn't over yet. I'll be in touch.


Mega Quarry suffers Mega Death

More later on next steps to finally cut the head off the beast that is known as the Aggregate Resources Act and the Provincial Policy Statement, but for now, read all about it and start spreading the news.

AND keep the date of February 16, 2013 OPEN!!! More details will follow.

Article after article on Highlands acknowledging defeat, I mean withdrawing their application AND Lowndes resigning....

Saturday, November 17, 2012


In an October 31, 2012 article, the newest wind turbine proponents Dufferin Wind, say it isn't "economically feasible" for them to bury all transmission lines.

Presumably they will be getting the same deal that TransAlta gets, you know provincial taxpayers subsidizing their operations, making them oddles of money on "green energy".

If I am reading the above noted statement from TransAlta correctly for ONE month for ONE turbine in Dufferin, they realized $2.5 million. 

ONE month, ONE turbine.

Hm.....   And the $5 million "gift" currently being offered to Melancthon Council by Dufferin Wind, which if Council accepts will in all probability contain the usual clause, binding them to confidentiality and prohibit them from raising issues with the company in the future?  

It may have come about because a Dufferin Wind proponent made this statement:  

"During the PIC question period, Paul Kuster asked if Dufferin Wind would shut the project down if the turbines created “legitimate health concerns. 
It sounds cold and callous, but the simple answer is no, Hammond said"


Wednesday, November 14, 2012


Misleading and premature

You might think Minebuster is describing a date in high school but no.

These are the words that Mayor Hill describes the $5 million "gift" that Dufferin Wind announced in the papers yesterday.

Dufferin Wind Power Inc.’s announcement of a $5 million gift to Melancthon is misleading and premature, according to the municipality’s mayor, Bill Hill.

“There is no $5 million gift that we got. There is no $5 million gift we’ve agreed to,” Hill said. “I’m quite surprised and shocked at the way this was presented to you through Dufferin Wind, but they do continue to surprise us.”

It’s contingent on more than us signing it. It’s contingent on us agreeing to an agreement,” Hill said. “It’s quite deceiving to the public at large and quite deceiving to the ratepayers of Melancthon.”
To weigh in, please vote on the poll posted.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


If you google Melancthon million, you get this headline:
Dufferin Wind announces $5 million gift to Melancthon

But when you click the article it doesn't mention a 5 million dollar "gift" to Melancthon.

And I am having trouble accessing this report:

So what gives?


So NOW, after County  Councillors voted on transferring waste to the upper tier, selling the public on cost savings, they figure out Orangeville benefits, but other lower tiers won't? 

And staff are STILL crunching the numbers, AFTER County Councillors voted on transferring waste management to the upper tier, selling the public on cost savings?


Priceless quotes:
There will be winners and losers in this game,” said East Garafraxa Mayor Allen Taylor, chair of the county’s Community Development Committee (CDC). “Right from the first, I was na├»ve enough to believe that if the cost was going down, everybody would save money.”

There isn’t going to be a simple slight decrease to each municipality in the cost of waste management,” said county treasurer Alan Selby. “For some, the cost will go up, and for others, the cost will go down.”

I wouldn’t say it was a foul up. It was something we never anticipated,” Taylor said. “Where we are now is called an unintended consequence.”
In light of the discovery, county staff is currently crunching the numbers to determine how much more or less each municipality’s tax base would pay for waste collection next year to compare with their current contracts.
“We’re getting closer to a point where we might be able to come up with exact figures,” Taylor said. “How it works out? Nobody knows

And these clowns are in charge of implementing a gasification plant? 

Holy FUKC.

Sunday, November 11, 2012


Christie Cookie in Toronto is closing a 625,000 square foot operation that employes 550 people. 

Presumably the plant was built with aggregate.  And after reading this quote: "However, the plant faces some unique challenges resulting from the changing neighbourhood surrounding the facility."  The area surrounding the plant just west of Toronto's crane-dotted Liberty Village, is quickly developing into a trendy neighbourhood of homes and shops." one could be excused if you think that the plant will be demolished with condos will be erected with, you got it, aggregate.

Saturday, November 10, 2012


Thursday, November 8, 2012


Proposed County budget hike still at 14%

The rise in the budget itself, including assumption of all waste collection and disposal, was initially calculated at 16.78 per cent, but the real growth of new properties reduced that by approximately one percentage point – assuming that a one per cent growth estimate was accurate.

The county’s takeover of waste management had been touted as a means of saving money. It was simply adding the garbage stream to its in-place handling of recyclables and source-separated organics. It might represent an over-all savings. But the four municipalities that have their own landfill sites, especially Melancthon, appear to be winding up paying considerably more as their share of the county tax than they were paying to operate their own sites.

The issue was raised at county council last month when Shelburne Mayor Ed Crewson crunched the numbers and suggested the town would not see a significant savings, if any at all.

Saturday, November 3, 2012


Melancthon dump closed to the public in June 2012:

County’s draft budget 16%-due to waste management costs????
"the County’s draft budget for 2013 calls for a net overall hike of almost 16%, in large measure because the county is taking over garbage collection and disposal from the local municipalities."

Waste Collection to cost County $3.8 million per year
"The county’s public works department estimates Dufferin’s lower-tier municipalities dish out a little more than $4 million per year for garbage collection combined."
Cost of county garbage plan comes in at $2-5M
"The county has received four different proposals from that trio, with price tags ranging from $2 million to $5 million annually. The county’s public works department estimates Dufferin’s lower-tier municipalities dish out a little more than $4 million per year for garbage collection combined. Once the county’s planned amalgamation of the garbage stream takes effect, Lewis expects “it’ll be less than the total of everybody else.”

And this article clearly shows elected officials in lower tier municipalities have not done their homework-most admitted they haven’t figured out whether they will save money or not.
"... but at a recent meeting of county council Shelburne Mayor Ed Crewson posed the question of savings, and was told that the costs might be lower than the original estimates – almost $4-million for all three waste streams: garbage, recyclables and source-separate organics."

So what the hell IS the cost?
2011 Financial Information returns show waste management costs for ALL Dufferin municipalities was $5,482,785

The County costs alone were $1,744,260

So presumably the County will still have their own costs of $1,744,260 PLUS the $3.8 million costs to assume all the lower tiers garbage which comes to $5,544,260.

BINGO, it is already it is costing MORE than when everyone was doing their own thing.

THEN there is the little issue of two new County employees (one full time and one contract) and all the costs that come associated with that, which so far hasn’t been included in any figure.

PLUS the fact that many lower tier municipalities do not know if their costs will be reduced to zero,

Who in the hell voted for this?

And if anyone thinks the Strategic Planning excercise currently underway at the County is not anything more than a restructuring plan that will COST us more money, NOT save money, then you would be wrong.