The Environmental Review Tribunal has granted the City’s application for leave to appeal the Ministry of Environment’s decision to grant River Valley Developments Inc.’s amended permit to take water at the Dolime quarry. The decision, made May 2, opens up an opportunity to address the City’s long–standing concerns about the risks posed to the City’s water supply by the quarry operations at Wellington Road and the Hanlon Expressway.
“This is an important decision and an excellent result for the protection of our municipal water supply—but there is still work to be done,” noted Janet Laird, Executive Director of Planning, Building, Engineering and Environment. “I want to thank everyone who contributed to and supported this result. The Tribunal’s decision gives the City the right to a full hearing on an issue of critical importance affecting the City’s water supply, and a renewed opportunity for meaningful discussions with the Ministry of the Environment and the quarry’s owner.”
Based on the Tribunal’s decision, the City will file a formal Notice of Appeal which will trigger both a hearing process and an opportunity to seek a long–term resolution with the Ministry of the Environment and the quarry’s owner to ensure that a suitable management plan and other conditions are in place to protect the City’s water supply. If successful, these discussions would avoid a lengthy and contentious hearing.
The City will be asking for the permit to take water to include conditions that would require the establishment of a management plan for the quarry. The plan would include strategies to mitigate impacts to the City’s drinking water when the quarry ceases operation; an adequate monitoring program; and financial assurances to ensure the quarry owner—rather than Guelph ratepayers—pay for long-term mitigation costs related to its operation.
The City has long maintained that excavation and water-taking at the Dolime quarry has the potential to impact the quality and quantity of Guelph’s municipal water supply system. In its decision to grant leave to appeal, the Environmental Review Tribunal accepted all of the City’s key arguments, and determined that there is reason to believe that the decision to amend and extend the permit to take water at the Dolime quarry was unreasonable and could result in significant environmental harm. The Tribunal also used the case to clarify and strengthen the rules around granting leave to appeal, which may provide additional clarity to stakeholders in future cases.