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Mayor skirts the offer of quarry land being turned into park land - no political upside in this for her or the ward Councillor.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

October 25th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward has a regular television show on the Cogeco cable network.

Cogeco provides the free time as one of the conditions attached to their license.

Late in September the Mayor and Ward 3 Councillor Rory Nisan took part in a virtual conversation with Curt Benson, the Regional planner about the Nelson Aggregate application for new licenses to continue open pit mining for aggregate needed for the concrete used in construction for everything from high rise towers to sidewalks in the city.

MMW + Nisan + Benson on Cogeco

Mayor Meed Ward, Councillor Rory Nisan (lower right) and Regional Planner Curt Benson on the Cogeco cablecast.

There is considerable opposition to the license applications from people who live in the rural part of the city.

The process and level of public involvement is complex and involves five levels of government and agencies.

The Mayor had Benson take her through the process that would be used. It is complex and time consuming and will take at least two years before they are anywhere near a decision. A municipal election will have taken place before the issue is ready for a decision.

Burlington’s city council is one of the bodies that makes a decision but it is the Niagara Escarpment Commission (NEC) that has the clout. If they decide the granting of licenses is not in the public interest and does not meet with the NEC mandate there will be no license.

The provincial Ministry is the body that will actually issue the license.

At this point in time the focus is ongoing through the thousands of pages of documents that were submitted with the application. It will take a couple of years for this to be completed.

Quarry time line

There are a lot of hoops for the application to get through before this gets to a decision point.

During the half hour broadcast Meed Ward and Nisan talked about community involvement, protection of the environment and the interests of the citizens – especially those who live in rural Burlington. Ward 3 covers the North West part of the city and while the population is not all that large – they certainly have clout.

Meed Ward and Nisan want to be able to say that they have done their best to save rural Burlington. They are half way through their first term of office and can be expected to shift the shape of the way they see things and move into election mode.

As elected officials they are not in place to focus on just the immediate and short term interests but the longer term interests of the city.

And that is where Meed Ward and Nisan failed miserably.

Neither made any mention of the offer to turn the mined out properties over to the city to be used as a public park.

Meed Ward did say that the area did have a park – she was referring to the Cedar Springs Golf Club – private and expensive.

Much mention was made of the community group that is opposed to future development of the open pit mines – little mention of the citizen’s group that would like to see a park created out of the land once the aggregate is mined out.

Spencer Smith Park and the Beachway are packed on the weekends when the weather is good.

The Conservation Authority is now charging a fee to enter their parks and limiting the amount of time you can spend there.

Lowville Park, a destination for large family gatherings, now meters the number of vehicles that can be in the park and limits the amount of time people can stay – which puts a real damper on family groups that often spend the best part of a day in what is a very nice park.

If there are limits now on where people can enjoy the outdoors what will Burlington do when they have added 15,000 to 20,000 people to its population by the time the quarry is ready to be closed?

The long range look is part of a city Councillor’s job – a Mayor is expected to take a long term view and to prepare the public for what is coming and to make the best of an opportunity.

The public didn’t see much of that when the Mayor dragged the Regional Planner into the fray.

Benson was pretty good at keeping his distance by being the professional he is – he was not about to be co-opted by a Mayor.

Nelson Aggregates may be talking to the wrong level of government. The Conservation Authority operates the Mt Nemo property which is a couple of football field lengths away from the quarry. They would be more suited to operating any park that might be developed in the future.

More on this in the weeks ahead.

Salt with Pepper is the musings, reflections and opinions of the publisher of the Burlington Gazette, an online newspaper that was formed in 2010 and is a member of the National Newsmedia Council.

Related new stories:

Citizens organize to oppose quarry expansion

Nelson Aggregates releases plan to turn quarry into parkland

 

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