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Ramara council shoots down quarry's rezoning request

Residents' group praises council's decision; Fowler Construction wanted to increase its aggregate extraction
2019-07-23 Ramara public meeting quarry
It was standing room only in Ramara council chambers at a recent public meeting regarding a quarry operation in the township. Nathan Taylor/OrilliaMatters

A Ramara residents’ group is celebrating after township council voted against a quarry’s rezoning request.

The Ramara Legacy Alliance was a leading voice in opposition to Fowler Construction’s attempts to have a property north of its existing Fleming quarry rezoned from rural to mineral aggregate extraction.

Council shot that application down this week in a 5-2 vote, with Deputy Mayor John O’Donnell and Coun. Kal Johnson voting in favour.

While Fowler has referred to the project as an “extension” of its Fleming quarry, the Ramara Legacy Alliance and David Donnelly, the lawyer hired by the group, believe that’s an inaccurate description.

“This is incorrect,” Donnelly told council during a previous public meeting. “This is an application for a new quarry.”

On its website, Fowler explains the “extension” would allow for an additional 6.9 hectares of extraction north of its existing site on Rama Road, in Floral Park.

Opponents say what concerned them most was the proximity to residences, as the new project would be about 70 metres from the nearest residence.

“We’re not against quarries — just not this close to communities,” said Joan Mizzi-Fry, president of the Ramara Legacy Alliance.

She noted William Hill, a blasting engineer and flyrock expert, recommended a minimum 600-metre setback from residences.

This week’s vote should sit well with nearby residents, many of whom spoke out against the rezoning at the public meeting.

Some were concerned about property values, noise, dust, and road safety — a video played during the meeting showed multiple instances of dump trucks not stopping at a stop sign — but Allan Millard focused on the township’s image.

“There is the adverse legacy to consider,” he said, referring to mining as “the opposite of development.”

Fowler has stated the project, once it runs its course, “will enhance ecological diversity by creating a 19.4 ha lake, a 1 ha wetland, and 5.7 ha of terrestrial habitat.”

Millard disagreed.

“Does this council want its legacy to be a useless, dead pond where flora and fauna once lived?” he asked.

During that meeting, Donnelly took the township to task for operating on an Official Plan that is 16 years old. He urged council to follow in the footsteps of Muskoka Lakes Township, which implemented a ban on rock crushing within two kilometres of any waterfront.

“Just like you wouldn’t put a drag strip next to a seniors’ home, you shouldn’t put a quarry next to the waterfront,” he said.

While council has made its decision, Mizzi-Fry noted Fowler has the option of taking the matter to the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal.

“But council’s decision is pretty solid,” she said.

Fowler has not yet responded to a request for comment.

The company’s proposal is what led to the creation of the Ramara Legacy Alliance, but Mizzi-Fry said the group is “going to keep going.”

“We want to make sure we protect our community, our environment,” she said.

Nathan Taylor

About the Author: Nathan Taylor

Nathan Taylor is an experienced multimedia journalist and editor who covers Orillia and other parts of Simcoe County.
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