Tyandaga residents still working at getting answers from different levels of government before the brick manufacturer begins cutting down trees and mining for shale.

News 100 greenBy Staff

April 16th, 2018



It is an issue that impacts the health of those who live in the community and has the potential to impact severely the value of the homes that are going to be yards away from the excavation of shale close to high end homes on West Haven Drive in the Tyandaga community.

The issue is complex and literally every level of government has done their best to steer clear of the problem.


The site and the size of the problem.

A license to mine a quarry for shale, issued in 1972 is the stumbling block. The company that owns the property and holds the license to manufactures brick wants to begin excavating on the most easterly of the three quarry cells.  The residents want tighter rules around any excavation that gets done.

Meridian Brick points to the taxes they pay and the value of their operation to the community. The community comes responds with its own tax number – they pay the city more money in taxes than the brick company.

In his blog Mayor Goldring sets out the fact that “Meridian manufactures an estimated 55% of the clay brick produced in Canada, and 45% is made here in Burlington.” He adds that the “quarry produces Queenston shale, and this is the only type of shale used for brick making in Ontario today. While the economic benefits cannot be overlooked, this must not be at the expense of negatively impacting the community.”

Excavation equipment 2

Residents are not looking forward to this kind of equipment operating yards away from their homes.

What many residents are asking is – why was the residential development approved when city council knew about the shale mining operation? Residents point out that if the mining of shale had started at the western cell the problem the community is facing today wouldn’t exist. In that blog the Mayor seems to agree: “Looking back on how Burlington has evolved, clearly if we were beginning to plan our City, a quarry within the urban area would not be the appropriate location.”

Amen to that would be a TEC response – they now want the city to work with them on an approach that deals with the current problems (air, noise and dust) and deforestation.

The residents of West Haven are resolute; they have organized as the Tyandaga Environmental Coalition (TEC). Hired legal counsel and been very aggressive in going after the bureaucrats in the different provincial ministries.

Westhaven looking toward lake

The street was once a preferred community – then word of the excavation work began to move to a quarry closer to the homes – many have sold their homes and quietly moved away. Property values are not improving.

They have been relentless with the Mayor and the ward Councillor and there is now at least some dialogue between the community and the brick company.

Their reports are filled with acronyms that matter only to those involved – they can be mind boggling. TEC has not been able to get this issues down to  headline issues:  environmental, health and the value of the homes people live in.

TEC reports that there has been one very useful meeting, arranged by Minister McMahon that included Burlington residents, TEC, Minister McMahon, Mayor Goldring, Councillor Craven, Meridian Brick, MOECC, MNRF, Conservation Halton and Burlington Green staff.

The meeting took place in January 25th, addressing a number of our concerns but because of the limited time-frame an in-depth discussion was not possible. As a result it was agreed to have ‘follow up’ meetings and, in addition, several key questions that arose from this meeting should, in the meantime, be presented, in writing, to the MNRF for their timely response – these questions were prepared and delivered on February 6th but so far TEC has no reply from the MNRF.

In November 2017, Donnelly Law, TEC’s legal team, submitted an EBR “Request for Review” application which essentially requested the “Environmental Commissioner of Ontario (ECO)” to review our (TEC) concerns with respect to the proposed Meridian quarry extension.

David Donnelly

David Donnelly TEC legal counsel.

The results of the Environmental Bill of Rights (EBR) decision were received. TEC was partly successful in that the noise study is now being re-evaluated because the Meridian’s Quarry Operational Plan had changed and the conclusions resulting from the theoretical noise study were very dependent on the accuracy of this Plan.

The MNRF (who are responsible for the ‘integrity’ of the Meridian quarry operation) has, to TEC’s knowledge, never routinely monitored the Aldershot quarry operation for air quality compliance (including carcinogens) and noise compliance and noise compliance but rather relied on standard reports that were filled in and submitted by the quarry operators.

TEC points out that Meridian commissioned SS Wilson (the consultant who did the four previous noise studies – two for the Westhaven Drive developer and two for the quarry operator) to monitor the ongoing quarrying noise for the proposed quarry expansion TEC see’s this as extremely irresponsible  – in effect it offers SS Wilson the unique opportunity to police their own predictions – TEC asks: How can they defend this action? They maintain it is an action that shows contempt for and an absolute lack of transparency. It also indicates, at least to the TEC people, the potential subservience of the agencies to the aggregate owners/operators!

TEC members met with Minister Karina Gould (MP) in February to introduce her to TEC and to explain our issues with the “urban” quarry since this has federal relevance:

• Meridian is an American/Australian owned company doing business in Canada (NAFTA)
• Indigenous & Métis is a federal matter – for example, “Duty to Consult”;
• Environment and climate change is a federal matter – COP21

Meridian yard gates

Meridian has a significant investment in the quarry and a license they don’t want anyone meddling with the license they have.

TEC was astonished that Minister Gould suggested that this was not a federal matter, a position that TEC does not agree with. They maintain all levels of government have a role to play in effectively representing all citizens and fulfilling their commitments as elected politicians especially on matters of health, welfare, and the environment. It is important to note that Ms. Gould, a Burlington resident and our representative at the federal level, has known about the TEC community issue since she attended Meridian’s (then Hanson) first meeting in September 2015. To date, she has offered no support.

TEC has tried to get in front of City Council asking that the Meridian matter be added to a meeting agenda to enable residents the opportunity to delegate and present their case to Council – this request came after TEC members met with each Councillor to seek their advice and support (note: to date only Councillors Meed-Ward and Taylor offered any support and “real” advice on the matter). In what appears to be a usual response, Council decided to once again “dismiss, “deflect”, and “redirect”’ our request to be added to the meeting agenda.

The response: “In consultation with the City Clerk and the Chair of the Committee of the Whole, please be advised that this item will not be placed on the Committee of the Whole agenda for February 26, 2018. I understand that this matter is being worked on by the MPP with the support of Mayor Goldring. In addition, as this is not a municipal matter and falls under provincial jurisdiction, your request should be sent to the appropriate ministries”,

TEC points out that having comprehensive City, Provincial, and Federal ‘environmental’ regulations without professional, independent, continuous and thorough monitoring is the equivalent to having no regulations at all! There are many unknowns that have been skillfully ‘deflected’ in the past, but as D-Day (Deforestation and Dig Day) approaches

TEC say they need

• Answers to our MANY questions – this is imperative if we are to define our way forward;

• Progressive and engaged leadership from our City council and planning staff, who go beyond
“listening” and find a way forward that benefits ALL;

• An enforceable MZO (Ministerial Zoning Order) to limit Meridian Brick’s quarrying activities to within a safe distance of the Tyandaga Community;

• A comprehensive review of the mitigation plan for the endangered species on lands and nearby;

• A ‘signed and MNRF approved” Operational Plan so that we can define the height and position of the berm and enable full compliance to be reviewed DURING the operation;

• Independent monitoring of the dust and noise for full compliance;

• A commitment from the City / Province (MNRF / MOECC) to monitor the operation and to be on-call for non-compliance;

TEC has concluded that the time MNRF has taken to respond to their very general questions is because they are having difficulty getting the answers – When did the MOECC / MNRF last monitor the air quality resulting from the shale extraction?

“Surely, this should be just a matter of looking at the last ‘Official Report’. Have the MOECC / MNRF ever monitored the air quality in the Tyandaga neighborhood? Again, this information should be readily available in the ‘Official Report’, unless of course, there are no reports since that has been no air quality and / or sound measurements ever performed on a regular basis by these agencies – a situation that is very disturbing!

One of the reasons for the January 25th meeting, mentioned previously, was for TEC to get to know the other parties and to also get an indication as to the concessions that each party was willing to make. Because of the time limitation not much progress was achieved other than to voice ‘individual’ concerns and to get a better appreciation of the attention (or lack thereof) that we can expect from the city, provincial, Regional and federal officials.

TEC Nov 16-17 crowd

TEC always gets a significant community turnout o events. Early in their community events the ward Councillor and the Mayor brought their tin ears to the meetings.

TEC’s view is that the City and the provincial ministries clearly want to politically distance themselves from the Meridian Brick Aldershot quarry matter by a ‘Defer, Distract, and re-direct’ policy providing all the choreographed lip service but taking none of the accountability that comes with their elected positions – again a situation that is very disheartening for the residents but further encourages the aggregates!

As a community TEC said they “must decide on our next course of action as Meridian begins to implement its plans for the clear cutting and the subsequent quarrying commences.

At this time, they say they can go in a number of diverse directions – from legal action (which requires fund raising) to a negotiated compromise of the proposed Meridian operation. For example, trying to reduce the area to be quarried, limiting the closeness of the quarry to the neighbourhood, professional monitoring of the noise and dust, penalties for non-compliance and alternate land uses.

TEC stop quarry expansion Jul17

In Burlington community groups have to struggle to get heard.

Any of these require dialogue and a willingness on the part of Meridian to come to the table as a transparent and accountable corporation and elected officials who will accept their responsibility to oversee what takes place and call to account those who do not .

It has been a long and expensive exercise but whenever TEC holds a meeting they get audiences of about 200 during which people offer their financial support – one resident donated $5000 to the cause.

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