Burlington Environmental Group Seething at Mayor's Inaction on Tree Cutting
The story of the plan to cut down thousands of trees near the Tyandaga neighbourhood of Burlington in order for a long standing brick quarry to grow their operations is not going away anytime soon.
The Tyandaga Environmental Coalition (TEC) has been sending correspondences and letters to a variety of elected officials (and media outlets). While some of the response has been detailed in scope, it doesn’t seem like there has been much overall movement on the matter.
Some political changes have come and gone as well. Burlington MPP Eleanor McMahon, who sent inhalton.com her response to TEC on this issue, was defeated in the June provincial election by Tory Jane McKenna. Ward 1 Coun. Rick Craven, who represents this area, is not seeking another term on city council.
When asked during the campaign what she would do, McKenna replied that she would work with stakeholders about the need for effective legislation based on strong, science based and comprehensive environmental protection.
In July, McKenna sent a joint letter with Burlington Mayor Rick Goldring to newly minted Environment Minister Rod Phillips and Natural Resources Minister Jeff Yurek, imploring them to release the review from their ministries as well as regular inspections of the quarry in accordance with the Aggregate Resources Act.
As for communications between the TEC and Mayor Goldring, the letters started off rather cordially but the tone has since changed to outright hostility. Based on a recent letter TEC sent in response to the one they received from Goldring on June 11, the environmental group is not happy to say the least.
Inhalton.com reached out to Mayor Goldring’s office for a copy of the letter he sent to TEC, but neither he nor his office responded at the time of this writing. Hence, the information presented in this article is entirely based on TEC’s response.
Here are some of the more salient points made by TEC from this response letter:
The perception is that Meridian were being treated with kid gloves by those at the city and in the industry, and “consistently refused to materially address the issue preferring, like you (Goldring) to pass the blame / responsibility onto someone else.”
Goldring was quoted saying that “Milton Quarry earned the 2017 Community Relations award from the Ontario Stone, Sand and Gravel Association”. Since that’s a fairly subjective accolade, some might not see it as proof that the mayor is engaging in (TEC’s and the community’s) interests.
Referring to a meeting with Goldring and a Ministry of Natural Resources official in late January, TEC said they were confused and disappointed in the content provided, saying ministry officials had reviewed their questions but that review would not be completed until the fall of 2018. TEC believes that would take place “conveniently” after the quarry deforestation and the municipal election.
Quoting a portion of Goldring’s letter where the mayor said this: “I have had regular discussions about the quarry with both provincial and Meridian representatives and my message has been clear - I expect the quarry to operate in accordance with provincial regulatory requirements and with no health impact to any Burlington resident,” TEC suggests the mayor was ‘seduced’ by the Ontario Stone, Sand and Gravel Association, rather than accepting the facts of the quarrying operation.
The way Meridian has gone about their work, TEC argues, the quarry has been an entirely self-policing operation. Despite numerous requests, written and oral, TEC says they have no indication any professionally and independently conducted air quality measurements were taken, since the issuance of the 1972 quarrying license. TEC described this process as “gross, culpable negligence” on the part of the mayor, city, and provincial officials, and an insult to residents of Burlington.
Compounding the situation, there are other sources of air contamination in the area of the site in Tyandaga, such as the King Asphalt recycling and CBM Ready Mix plants, not to mention a policy of ‘population intensification’ with the traffic causing more air pollution and congestion.
TEC concludes that Goldring could have done a lot over the years, such as:
Endorse TEC’s proposed MZO and Request for Review to allow for the permanent protection of the site, or at the very least the required three-year salamander survey work.
Seek along with the Halton Medical Officer of Health independent peer reviews of all Meridian’s technical studies.
Immediately commission a Stakeholder Design Charette exercise to explore sustainable rehabilitation and development solutions across the entire Aldershot quarry site.
Copies of the letter were also distributed to all city councillors as well as M. Greenlee, the Chief of Staff for the City of Burlington.
At this point, this is the information inhalton.com was presented with. Three days after sending the request, and neither Mayor Goldring or anyone from his office responded to our inquiry for a copy of the letter he sent to TEC that triggered their response.
It could be a politically strategic decision on the mayor’s part; he may perceive this group as being relegated to a certain few and not reflective of the opinion of the wider population.
But considering how animated residents in Tyandaga and Burlington were in the first meeting inhalton.com attended covering this issue, the general consensus amongst the populace is it doesn’t benefit anybody if you’re cutting down trees that provide nourishment and sustenance for society as a whole.
UPDATE: Mayor Goldring’s office has provided the two letters they had sent to TEC in June and July.
The first one is addressed to Fran Fendelet on June 11.
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