All they wanted was a nice retirement home - they ended up being members of a Not for Profit corporation that was setting out to stop a quarry behind their homes.

News 100 greenBy Pepper Parr

July 26th, 2017



They just wanted a retirement home.

In a nice quiet community – not too far from the downtown part of the city.

Their daughter was a real estate agent and was able to help them out with the purchase of the home they bought in the west side of the Tyandaga neighbourhood.

They bought, arranged to have some renovations on their new home done and were beginning to get a sense of the neighbourhood they had chosen to move into.

The road into the neighbourhood cuts through a small section that has nicely treed property on either side of the road. You have no idea if that land is public or private – it’s just there.

You come around a bend in the road and the street stretches out before you with a bit of a gradual slope that lets you see the city, the bay and the bridge almost as if it was a picture framed by the houses.

It was while the renovation work was being done that Heather found a letter in her mail box from a company that was doing some quarrying in the area.

Full TEC site

The homes are shown upper right. The quarries are above Bayview Park with the brick manufacturing operation below the park.

“Quarrying” asked Heather. “Where is the quarry – and why didn’t I know this when I bought my house?”

Those questions were the beginning of a process that has brought a community into pretty direct conflict with their Mayor, the city council member, the province and a corporation that is a major manufacturer of a vital construction product – clay bricks.

Bern 25 metres from west haven house property line

This berm is about 25 yards from the back yard of the homes on the west side of West Haven Drive.

That quarry was just behind a huge Bern that had been built behind the homes when they were initially built in the late 1990’ss.

Heather wasn’t the stereotype suburban dweller who tends to pay little attention to what the city does as long as the garbage is picked up and the roads are plowed in the winter and the tax rate is reasonable and the streets are safe.

She wanted to know more – and she made it her business to learn more and then gather her neighbours together and begin asking questions.

And learn more they did.

The notice Heather got from the mining company was from Meridian Brick advising her that they were going to begin a shale quarrying operation in the eastern cell of their property. There are three cells: western, central and eastern. The western cell is reported to have 3 to 5 years of production left; the central cell has 6 to 8 years of production left. The direction is evident – the eastern cell will need to be opened up in the not too distant future – and that eastern cell is less than 100 yards from the back yards of the people on the western side of West Haven Drive.

To do that excavation mining they would be cutting down most of the some 9000 trees in the area.

Heather sent letters out to the 80 some neighbours asking them to meet. Close to a dozen showed up. Out of that meeting came TEC – Tyendaga Environmental Coalition Inc.

Quarrying - BEST

Part of the quarrying operation couple o hundred yards from West Haven Drive homes.

These were not a bunch of people who didn’t fully understand the issues – these, for the most part, were professionals who had succeeded in their careers – they’d have had too – the homes in the community aren’t cheap.

They were smart and had connections – and they knew how to make things happen.

The created an organization – asked each member to pony up $500 – 30 did – so there was now a bit of a war chest.

They then hired David Donnelly to help them through the bureaucracy.

Donnelly was the lawyer that PERL – Protecting Escarpment and Rural Land – used when they fought the expansion of the Nelson Quarry on Colling Road. That case went before a Tribunal hearing that found the Jefferson Salamander, an endangered species, lived in that part of rural Burlington – more aggregate mining could not take place.

Trails, shale - harbour

In the middle of the picture some of the shale mining quarry can be seen – Burlington Bay can be seen on the horizon,

When the TEC took their concern to the Mayor and the city Councillor they were told that the company had a permit and that there was a notation on their deeds and they should have known that some mining was going to take place.

In a media release the Mayor said:
“After extensive review by staff in several city and regional departments, we have come to understand that Meridian Brick is within its legal rights and that the Province of Ontario, not the City of Burlington, has jurisdiction over this matter.”

There is a reported notation on the property deeds that: All purchasers are informed of the following warning clause registered on title:

“The purchaser acknowledges the presence of a future extractive industrial land use to the west and that extraction may take place during the daytime only.”

No one with property deeds could find any notation on their documents about any rights the mining company had.

That a company had the right to mine a hundred yards or so from their homes and that there was a notation to this effect on their property deeds which they couldn’t see was more than enough to mobilize the neighbourhood.

These people got serious – especially when they learned that the mining company had a permit – given to them in 1972, to mine for Queenston shale, the only type that is used for brick making in Ontario. And there aren’t many places left where that shale can be extracted.

The TEC people say the issue is that they “… need, at a minimum, to have the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) decision (to issue the original quarry license) to be re-evaluated in the light of the ‘HERE and NOW – 2016’. We appreciate that the MNRF does not have a history of reviewing their decisions but in this case we believe that the area under question has undergone such a dramatic change in the last FORTY-FOUR YEARS with the enormous growth in industry, schools, residences, traffic, etc. that it would warrant an exception to their rule.”

Brick making had been taking place in North Aldershot since the early 1900’s and it is now a large industry and a significant tax payer.

Westhaven looking toward lake

West Haven Drive looking south.

The West Haven Drive point out that the assessed value of the 141 homes on the street (these are million dollar homes) is just as big as that assessed value of the mining lands – and that residents pay higher tax rates than a mining operation.

The two politicians, the Mayor and the ward Councillor may come to regret the way they blew off the residents.

This is going to be an ongoing story – there are a number of interests at play – one being the importance of the brick manufacturing operation to the economy of the city and its importance to the residential construction industry in the province. Meridian manufactures an estimated 55% of the clay brick produced in Canada and 45% of that is made in Burlington. Tough to fight an industry with that level of market penetration.

Related story link:

What’s going on at West Haven Drive?

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7 comments to All they wanted was a nice retirement home – they ended up being members of a Not for Profit corporation that was setting out to stop a quarry behind their homes.

  • Heather

    To Allen Jones

    You have no idea what you are speaking of. Obviously. This is “Heather” from the article. Prior to purchasing, we called the City Planning department (as did our agent) to ask what is going on with the land/forest behind the home. We were told it was protected land. We asked the selling agent and owner if they were aware of anything that could be developed west of this street (forest area). They both categorically said, protected land. Our title did not have a warning front and centre therefore our lawyer, along with just about all other lawyer who did title searches on the homes purchased in the last 5 years did not find any warnings.

    Like so many people you have strong opinions without any facts to back it up. It is the obligation of the SELLING agent and owner to disclose on purchase agreements any pertinent information of the property and house. Go figure. Hide the facts in order to sell the home before the news became public.

    There have been 10 homes sold on this street over the past two years. Only 2 prior owners were honest and upfront about the quarry (as what should have happened), the others hid the knowledge although they were well aware of the impending expansion.

    We are experienced buyers of homes and know what to look for with or without the help of an agent. One can only ask and research and if the information is buried or deleted or not shared, there is not much you can do prior to an offer. As they say, buyer beware.

    • Tom Muir


      I apologize for any shortcomings in my comment. It seems from what you say here, that you have been deceived all around. I hope you have a paper trail, with names, assembled on what you describe.

      Even so, I have known the pit was there, and that expansion was possible, since moving to Aldershot in 1981. It has been an issue several times as the Tyandaga development moved closer.

      To me, the berm location would be a big clue as to the extent of possible expansion. And the pit operations are already close where they are to the east. Red lights flashing.

      Like you said, buyer beware. People are strange, and will deceive, and turn on one another for self interest, as you say you discovered.

      Good luck in your case.

      • Heather


        Thank you for your comments. You would think we would know something about the quarry being from Burlington but had absolutely no idea. Keep in mind this is an over 40 year old license. This “berm” has over years, has been completely covered with grass, shrubs, etc and does not look like a berm. As well there is probably 25 – 30 feet of forest in front of the berm. When googling earth this area , we noticed the central quarry, that is why my agent and ourselves called and spoke to City Hall, selling agent and owner. It would have been nice for them to say that the land is owned by a quarry company instead of this is protected land.

        Have a great day. Heather

    • C Jester

      They say you can’t fight City Hall. Makes it even harder when you can’t BELIEVE City Hall.

      Still, I thought everyone in Burlington knew about the quarry and its past and future. My mistake I guess.

  • Tom Muir

    Hard to disagree with Allen.

    The pit has been there for very long time and if you don’t know about it you’ve not been paying any attention at all, including buying the place, and the daughter has been negligent.

    Don’t expect any miracles, which is what it will be if this business is shut down because of your lawsuit.

  • Allen Jones

    The majority of Real estate agents are dolts; only interested in the the quick buck commission and really don’t have a clue as to what is going on in the neighbourhoods ,,,, and as this “Pit” has been there for years her daughter in obviously one of the dolts.

    How complicated is it to climb over the berm or read the local papers and then make a few phone calls …. like I said …. Dolts.

    Makes a good case for not doing business with family eh?

  • Excellent story. For more information about what the Westhaven Drive and TEC residents and supporters are fighting, please go to

    Alyson Henry