In 2011, The Highland Companies, filed an application with the province for the largest quarry in Canadian history on the best farmland in Ontario and at the headwaters of five river systems. The mega Quarry would have sprawled across 2,316 acres and would have plunged 200 feet below the water table on a 15,000 acre plateau of Class 1 farmland. The massive open-pit limestone quarry would have put rare agricultural soil and precious water resources at risk in Melancthon Township. A large and diverse group of rural and urban residents launched a Stop the Mega Quarry movement. It was a success.
On November 21, 2012, The Highland Companies announced it was withdrawing its Mega Quarry application and plans for a rail corridor through Dufferin County to Owen Sound. However, the fate of the land and water was unknown. Highland Companies still owned 6,500 acres of Class 1 farmland and could re-apply at any time.
Then on July 16, 2013, Bonnefield Financial, an investment firm specializing in acquiring farmland, bought all of Highland's land. Bonnefield's president, Tom Eisenhauser, announced the fields will continue to be farmed. After many years of uncertainty, it seems the best agricultural soil in the province and its bounty are safe for the time being.
While the Melancthon fields may be secure, Ontario's prime farmland and source water regions remain vulnerable. The present Provincial Policy Statement and Aggregate Resources Act still allow non-farming development on land and water that sustain us. Until legislation is changed, these vital resources are still at risk.
We must now ensure that our source waters and prime agricultural lands are protected, and not at risk of being destroyed.....thus the beginning of our:
Food & Water First campaign, round 2 of 2.