Guelph city officials worry quarry expansion plans could threaten wells
A five-year battle between the City of Guelph and the owner of a longstanding quarry has flared up again, with the city asking the province to deny a change in the quarry’s water-taking permit.
River Valley Developments owns the Dolime Quarry, which has been in operation in Guelph for more than 150 years.
In 2007, River Valley submitted two requests to the Ministry of Environment – to double Dolime’s extraction rate to a million tons each year, and to revise its water-taking permit.
The City of Guelph has been fighting the company on both issues.
“It’s frustrating for a business when you get caught up in a process that should take a few weeks, and it takes months and years,” says Greg Sweetnam of James Dick Construction, which operates the site.
Sweetnam says the city shouldn’t have any issue with the water-taking permit, because the quarry isn’t proposing to dig any deeper than it already does.
“We’re not proposing in any circumstance to change the geometry of the quarry in width, length or depth,” he says.
“We’re just talking about changing the location of a pump.”
Last month, the city sent a letter to the ministry asking them to deny the quarry’s request.
The city says it’s concerned the changes could interfere with the city’s municipal wells. It also wants assurance future unforeseen environmental costs won’t be borne solely by taxpayers.
The Ministry of Environment says it wants to make sure both sides are treated fairly, but does agree with the city that there is some cause for concern.
“There’s potential, somewhere in the long-term future once the quarry shuts down, that there could be the possibility of impact on city wells,” says Carl Slater, a technical support manager at the ministry.
“We just need to deal with preventing that in the first place.”
The ministry will be meeting with the city and the quarry later this month to try and find a resolution.