Local author tells Council: 'it is your responsibility to protect our Escarpment

By Staff

September 21st, 2023



Celebrated author Janet Turpin Meyers delegated at a Standing Committee earlier this week.

Author Janet Turpin Meyers

My name is Janet Turpin Meyers. I’ve lived in Burlington for 52 years and on the Escarpment since 1982.

Over the years, I’ve witnessed the densification of population in the southern section of the city. And I’ve noted with approval how vigorously the city has always fought to protect the precious and irreplaceable natural ecosystems. that make up the very special Niagara Escarpment area of this city. As a longtime resident on the escarpment I’ve endured for most of my life. The gravel truck traffic the worries about contaminated imported fill from the Nelson pit the worries about diminishing well water and polluted creeks and silted in ponds. And I’ve also lived with the depressing realization that prime farmland has been permanently destroyed by Nelson aggregates nearly 70 years of mining.

We’ve listened to Nelson’s rhetoric about the quarry shutting down in the next five years. We’ve endured that eight year battle to stop that previous application from Nelson that was eventually denied in 2012 for that previous application, the due diligence process was fully and in good faith undertaken. The process rendered a resounding verdict of No, yet several years later, here we go again, another application from Nelson for virtually the same land.

This is incredibly upsetting to me as a citizen, that a decision so duly rendered only a few years years ago really can now be challenged by a private corporation, and possibly invalidated. What’s the point of all that painstaking, complicated process, all of that money being spent all of that energy expended by citizens and by governments? If a company can then come along in a few years later and try again for the same piece of land for the same thing, the aggregate industry conveniently professes a close to market mantra that goes something like this.

They argue that situating gravel pits close to market is the key to offsetting the negative impacts of greenhouse gases emitted by gravel trucks. They say it’s better to have trucks travel less distance, and thus inflict less co2 on the atmosphere. But already today in the here and now the process of replacing those combustion engine heavy trucks with electric vehicles with zero tailpipe emissions has begun. The federal government’s target for the electrification of heavy trucks is 100% of all sales by the year 2040.

Janet Turpin Meyers at home overlooking the Escarpment forest.

In July last year, the federal government brought in a purchasing incentive for heavy zero emission trucks of up to $200,000 per vehicle. The entire world is electrifying transportation, greenhouse gas emissions from tailpipes are on their way out. Now consider this  – the new pits being proposed by Nelson aggregates will be mined for at least 30 years, a length of time which means that trucking gravel back and forth will continue long after co2 emissions from those trucks will have ceased to be an issue.

So Nelson’s declaration of concern about greenhouse gases will be rendered as obsolete as those tailpipes will. Wear when faced with an either or situation, either Nelson is permitted to permanently destroy 125 more acres of Burlington precious Greenbelt or we may have a few for a few years, increased greenhouse gas emissions from gravel trucks that may or may not be travelling further. To me, it’s obvious.

Janet Turpin Meyers, local author launches her first title at the end of the month.

The permanent destruction of Burlington Greenbelt lands is too high a price to pay for a problem that is already on its way out. Nelson’s application to increase its open pit mine on Burlington escarpment means bringing the negative impacts of gravel mining closer to market as well. That is closer to people. This means bringing closer to home more destruction of prime farmland, more vanishing Greenbelt, more threats to the limited water supply of the people living on the escarpment. It means bringing more blasting and fire rock and dangerous dust right to Burlington’s backyard.

Why should a gravel company goal to increase its profits through reducing transportation costs trump the needs of Burlington citizens to preserve the natural heritage of their city for future generations. Burlington is a lucky city. It’s bounded on both its frontiers with beauty, with the sweeping blue expanse of Lake Ontario to the south and the rising living green of the escarpment to the north Burlington. has always protected its escarpment it has  prohibited urbanization there. It’s allowed the farms to continue the Carolinian forest to thrive and the animals to survive.

Open pit mining is one of the most destructive industrial practices on earth. No mitigation plan will ever replicate the complexity of a bio-diverse ecosystem that has been blasted to its rocky core. As counsellors we have entrusted you with the stewardship of this rare and beautiful part of our city. Do you think New York city Councillors would allow a company to mine in Central Park?

What we have here in this city is exceptional, and precious, and it is your responsibility to protect it.

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