Popular singer, native of rural Burlington delegated virtually on Monday evening - 'give it your all' she asked

By Staff

September 19th, 2023



Sara Harmer

Sarah Harmer was raised on a farm adjacent to the Nelson Quarry.

The popular singer has been part of the organizations that have fought the expansion of the quarry from the very beginning.

She was a major witness in the first application Nelson Aggregates made to expand their license.

Sample of karst rock – used by thousands of area residents to decorate their front lawns.

During her delegation Monday night she said: “So much of what I feel and have concerns about when we started Pearl back in 2005, when we didn’t know much about aggregate issues and quarry and land use issues in general, we sought the advice of renown local hydro geologist Wilf Ruhland and had him come to our place.

“He looked at the map of Mt. Nemo and said: “Do you see all the blue lines emanating from the top of this plateau?  Then added he couldn’t think of a worse place to go in below the water table. This is the headwaters of so many creeks and streams, the grindstone Creek, Bronte, there’s so many of them that begin at this high head-water area.

“He also asked us if we knew what karst geology was, I don’t think anybody knew what karst rock meant; he went on to explain that karst is a type of geology that is quite rare and is found in ancient land forms like the Niagara Escarpment.  It is rock that has been worn down by millions of years by water to create caves and fissures and sinkholes and springs.

” It’s a place that not even experts can predict where you’re going to impact; it’s like looking at a loaf of sourdough bread. It looks really solid on the top and as soon as you cut into it, it’s just full of holes. The many assurance that Nelson aggregates is giving us as far as well water protection and Source Water Protection is not credible.

Sarah Harmer’s father, Alan (Clem) and mother Isabelle, who were once described by former Mayor, the late Walter Mulkewwich, as Burlington royalty. Sitting in the front row during the three hour meeting.

“Experts have seen the modelling the company used; it is very generic and does not express the complexity of what’s going on at Mt. Nemo. I’m here representing my family who have lived on Mt. Nemo for 53 years this month. My mom Isabelle and my dad are in the audience tonight.

“Years ago I stood at the back of our farm on number one side road with a provincial government hydrogeologist in 2006 or 2007; we were up there on the high ground and he said “What’s this doing here as he was pointing at a pond and said you know this isn’t getting flow from anywhere else. This is not downstream of anywhere. This is happening because of an upwelling through the karst limestone, and you can’t predict where these rare springs and seeps and ponds will pop up out of the rock.

“And you can’t predict what impacts blasting and mining and explosive industrial activity will have. And as you know there are hundreds of wells all surrounding the proposed extraction area, on the west side especially, that’s one of the reasons this is an even worse proposal than the first go round because of the Burlington springs western expansion.

“There are so many residents along Cedar Springs that are in the down gradient to where Nelson wants to expand and the impacts to their wells, the impacts to the meet at Valley and the area of natural scientific interest are unknown and unknowable.

“I want to tell one little story about what happened a couple a couple of summers ago. Imperial Oil wanted to put a diesel pipeline through the right of way at the back of our farm. 

“They were right next to the Jefferson salamander habitat, the provincially significant headwaters of the grindstone Creek which is provincially protected. They had to drill underneath this section of the wetland. The hydrogeologists had a lot of experts on the case and they thought they were in solid rock.

“They were drilling a test drill with drilling mud underneath this provincially segment wetland and Jefferson salamander habitat.

“They were wrong. They hit a seam or a fissure, a crack in the rock that they did not predict. And up came thousands of litres of drilling mud and fluids, bentonite and a whole bunch of other combined fluids many meters away from where they were drilling into this provincially significant wetland.

“They had to alert us, they had to alert the Ministry of Environment. It was an unexpected void in the rock that they came across that then created this major spill.

“Now that’s Imperial Oil who you know put in pipelines all over the place, and yet they missed it. They didn’t understand that on Mt. Nemo you can’t be sure of what you’re going to impact Our well went dry and we have had to use our barn well for the last few decades. Our neighbour’s well went dry on number one side road. We know people on number two side road whose wells have gone dry. The impacts are unknowable, any assurances that the company has been floating are not credible.

Sarah Harmer performing at an outdoor CORE fund raiser.

“The precedent has been established for the protection the land Nelson wants to quarry. Nelson in their plan for the southern edge of the southern proposed expansion area plan to pump and de water into a wetland in the West arm of the Mt Nemo tributary. They want to de water into this amphibian habitat.

“There’s are so many reasons to oppose this project. Decisions made now are among the most consequential in history. We are at a tipping point, as we know, and the compelling evidence has been laid out beautifully before you tonight and in the JART report.

“I would encourage you to continue on the path that Burlington has been on to protect our beautiful and precious world biosphere in our backyard to protect the well water, to protect the endangered species. We have incredible grasslands, prime agricultural soil and forests and wetlands that are sequestering carbon in the north part of our city. Please give it your all.”

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2 comments to Popular singer, native of rural Burlington delegated virtually on Monday evening – ‘give it your all’ she asked

  • PClarke

    The long term environmental impact of not having a local quarry is horrific compared to opening up this small space. Imagine the number of class 8 diesel dump trucks needed to build a kilometer of road, now imagine having them drive two, three or even five times as far for every load of gravel needed. Besides the never-ending air pollution, it will dramatically impact the cost of infrastructure and home building costs, that translates directly into taxes and home prices. But she’s right, won’t someone thing of the salamanders.

    • Jim Thomson

      Just means you need a local distribution point for gravel.
      Ship it by rail to the distribution point.
      No need for blasting on the escarpment.

      No need for diesel trucks. They can be electric. Councillor Nisan said as much at the Committee meeting. Of course he claims there is an environmental crisis, but votes for diesel buses and firetrucks because they are cheaper.