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Protect Mono gaining community support

August 20, 2014   ·   0 Comments

By Tabitha Wells – Over the last decade, Dufferin County has become a hot spot for companies seeking to build quarries and gravel pits. The trend seems to continue as word has spread that Sam Greenwood, who owns Greenwood Construction, is seeking to file an aggregate application for land in north Mono.

Word of his plans led to the creation in April of Protect Mono, a group of concerned citizens who seek protection of local farmland and a change in the legislation concerning aggregate applications in Ontario.

“It’s not a one-issue battle that we’re up against, it’s multi-layered,” said Leeanne Farrugia, Chair of Protect Mono.

“This one pit is a catalyst for a much greater issue that an organization like Food and Water First is putting front and centre in terms of trying to change some of the legislation at a provincial level.”

Last month, the group sent out a mail-blast of pamphlets explaining their intent and encouraging residents to get involved through donations, memberships and helping to spread the word. So far, they have received an overwhelmingly positive response.

“We’re getting a lot of feedback from our pamphlet and people in this community are making it very clear that this [aggregate pit] is not something people want for Mono,” she said.

Before the group formed and moved forward with their mandate, they spent a lot of time focusing both on research and putting a proper organizational structure in place.

“We contacted Mr. Greenwood through a letter to get confirmation on his plans because we’re not interested in doing anything based on rumours,” she said. “We’ve been factual since the beginning, and we’re very committed to that. He was very upfront with us in terms of his plans, which are to extract aggregate from the three properties that he owns there.”

The amount of property currently slated for the application is about 263 acres situated between 3rd and 4th Line EHS and 30  Sideroad and Highway 89, bordering the Niagara Escarpment. If the application proceeds and is approved, the aggregate pit would affect approximately 70 homes in the area.

“That’s a lot of families and that’s a lot people’s hard earned money and investments going down the hole,” said Ms. Farrugia. “There are risks to health, there are traffic risks and the values of the surrounding properties will drop. Plus, there will be increased noise, pollution and the loss of very good , quality farmland.”

So far the group has received a great deal of support, not just from individual members of the community, but from numerous local businesses and beyond, including groups like NDACT (North Dufferin Agricultural Community Task force), and Food and Water First.

“We’re basically trying to raise awareness and raise some money so that if we find ourselves in a position of needing to fight this pit that we would have the means to do so,” she explained.

Based on the success of the first pamphlet mailout, the group is planning to do a second blast, along with currently running a sign campaign. The signs are sold through the Rosemont General store, and are bag signs similar in style to the Food and Water First signs.

“We’ve received some good contributions and some promised of meaningful contributions so far,” said Ms. Farrugia. “Now with this campaign, we’re going to see a lot of signs in Mono that say ‘No more gravel pits on Mono farmland’.”

Currently, the biggest ways residents can get involved are by spreading the word, posting signs on their yard and donating money to the organization, which is completely volunteer-run.

“Unfortunately, fighting gravel pit and quarry proposals can be very expensive,” explained Ms. Farrugia. “This is a lot of volunteer hours, and a lot of people’s hard earned time and money that is going towards something that, in our opinion, should not even be considered.”

The group has created a simple, easy-to-navigate website that helps provide residents with updated information regarding the application, information on how to get involved, and sample letters to help anyone interested in writing to voice their concerns to their elected representatives.

“We’re not naive in terms of the need for development,” she added. “Development is a reality, but there needs to be more appropriate planning for where these developments take place, and we very strongly feel that 263 acres is not appropriate.”

According to Ms. Farrugia, there are several reasons that the area, specifically in Mono, is becoming a target for these applications.

“One reason is the proximity to the city,” she said. “If you look at a map of East Garafraxa, it looks like a moonscape. We don’t want that for Mono. At some point, people have to stand up for the environment. It’s not 1960 any more, people are a lot more informed and they’re a lot more concerned about their future and their children’s future.”

She says about 350 acres of prime farmland are lost to development every day, and the area size of Toronto every year.

“It is quite frightening, really,” said Ms. Farrugia. “What’s the point of development if we cannot feed ourselves down the line?”

She added that when an application happens right beside someone, it really brings home the reality of the situation, and that it can happen anywhere. The land that will be included in the application is good quality, class 1, 2 and 3 farmland.

“The citizens of Mono are sending a very strong, organized and clear message to Mr. Greenwood,” she wrote in an email on Tuesday. “This is a very engaged community that values the health and safety of its residents, rural heritage, and the protection of water and increasingly diminishing farmland.”

For more information on the group or to get involved visit www.protectmono.com.

         

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