Residents in Paris are voicing their opposition to a proposed gravel pit set to be developed near the town.

Dufferin Aggregates wants to develop 618 acres of prime agricultural land north of Paris. If the plan goes forward, the gravel pit would be one of the biggest producing pits in Ontario.

However, opponents to the plan say a watershed that feeds all 12,000 residents of Paris is underneath the land proposed for the site.

“We’re not opposed to aggregate, we’re not opposed to gravel, we are really opposed to the appropriateness of the location of this pit,” said Ron Norris of the Concerned Citizens of Brant.

Dufferin Aggregates licensed the land 39 years ago under the Aggregate Resources Act and has been waiting to develop it ever since. But Maude Barlow, a well-known author on water scarcity and rights, says the rules around water protection have changed over the years.

“All groundwater must now be seen as a public trust, it must be seen as commons,” Barlow told CTV News. “It belongs to the people of Ontario and in this case, the people of this community.”

However, the Ministry of Natural Resources says as long as the land meets current environmental standards, companies are free to license where they want to sit and wait to develop.

In an e-mail from last October, a government spokesperson adds that there must be serious violations of the Aggregate Resources Act, the regulations, the site plan, and the conditions of the license.

But that position does not sit well with Wayne Noseworthy, who lives about five blocks from the proposed site.

“Operating right over the water supply, in the end, is it worth it?”