West Haven residents are told that they can win their battle with the brick manufacturer.

News 100 greenBy Pepper Parr

November 17th, 2017



Organizing your community and getting people out to meetings is the hard part. Every group that doesn’t like what the politicians or the bureaucrats are doing to them always has a core group – often very small and usually led by one person with energy and driven by the issue.

The Tyendaga Environment Coalition (TEC) doesn’t quite fit the mold. The issue is critical to the community – saving their homes from the disruption of a shale mine metres away from their homes that is under threat.

The residents feel they are not being served by a Mayor and the ward Councillor who have basically walked away from their constituents.  Situations like this tend to make people angry and gets them out to meetings.

The issue is the decision the brick manufacturer made to begin mining shale in the third “cell” on property along King Road north of the North Service Road.  The company has a license to do what they are doing – it was issued in 1972.


The mining operation consists of three pieces of property: a west, central and eastern cell. The eastern cell is just metres away from homes that are in the million dollar plus range.

The residents believe things have changed since that license was issued and they want the  brick manufacturer to limit their mining operation to the west and central cells and leave the east cell as it is with a reported 9000 Carolinian forest trees on the property

Sarah Harmer at TERC Nov 16-17Then when you hold a meeting you get lucky and attract a musician with some star power and then during the meeting a resident takes to the microphone and tells how upset he is with what is being done to his lifestyle and commits $5000 on the spot.

The Thursday evening meeting was the third held by the TEC organizers – each time they held a meeting they had had to look for a bigger space.  The movement has traction.

TEC Nov 16 the agendaIt does help that the people in the West Haven community are pretty flush – many were able to write a cheques for $500 to create a war chest and hire some legal talent and get access to the experts who can help dig out the data.

It helps too when the provincial government sends observers – there just might be something going on.

Observers from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry and the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing  were in the room.

Roger Goulet, one of the PERL – Protecting Escarpment Rural Land – driving forces, gave the audience of 200 a geography lesson that put the issue in a larger context and and pointed out just how inaccurate some of the information being given out by the brick manufacturer is.

The panel that answered some questions had Gord Miller, a former Ontario Environmental Commissioner speaking.

They had Dr Lynda Lukasik, Executive Director of Environment Hamilton talking about how to measure air quality and just how damaging the dust from the shale mine was to the lungs.  When you have someone from Hamilton talking to you about air quality – you know you have someone who “knows whereof they speak”.

But the man who kept the focus was David Donnelly, an environmental lawyer who spoke with passionate that is supported by a deep knowledge base and just the right amount of chutzpah.

David Donnelly

David Donnelly. informed, entertained and told the audience that they can win their battle.

Donnelly was part prosecutor, part evangelist nd always on point.  He worked that crowd almost as well as John Diefenbaker did in his day.

Donnelly informed the audience that he had “served” the Ministry with an order to live up to the Environmental Bill of Rights, which sounded very impressive.  What he did was email a document to the Ministry of the Environment and will follow that up with a hard copy that will be mailed.

Donnelly is no charlatan – he is just very good at entertaining and informing a crowd.  He wanted the audience to:

Write a letter to the Mayor and the ward Councillor.  He asked the audience to write the Mayor and tell him that they support the TEC position.

“Is this something this crowd and the community should do”  asked Donnelly.  All those in favour say Aye.

Aye said the audience in unison – then Donnelly asked for the Nays – you could have heard a pin drop.  Anyone who might have had the courage to say Nay would have been stoned on the spot.

Donnelly asked the audience if the city should hold a design charette to decide what should be done with the property.  He did the Aye and the Nay routine again

The TEC people held a draw – a nice piece of fund raising,  and left a jar on the table with paper money in it – $20’s would give people the hint.

Donnelly explained to the audience the steps that were being taken – he was convincing.

TEC Nov 16-17 crowd

An audience of 200 listened intently as the progress to date on their attempt to stop a brick manufacturer from continuing to mine for shale.

The crowd got to learn what a MZO order is – a Ministry Zoning order, a document that would compel a person or a corporation to stop what they were doing because the Minister had issued an order that the zoning on the property that allowed the shale mining to take place was on hold.

“All it takes is a stroke of the pen” said Donnelly

At times he sounded like one of those traveling evangelicals that aroused an audience and had them all at the altar.

It was fine theater and very effective community organizing.  Donnelly and Goulet and Miller made a very critical point.  Winning issues like this has been done before.  Residents of Burlington had convinced a Joint Tribunal to refuse to issue a license to expand the Nelson Aggregate quarry in the Escarpment.

There is much more in the way of detail and background that the Gazette will report on.

What was clear was that the TEC was on a roll – it just might be do-able.

In the process of getting what the want the residents find that their Mayor and the ward Councillor are on what they feel is the wrong side of an issue.

One member of the TEC team said that their people had called the Mayor’s office to see if he was going to attend the meeting.  A staffer is reported to have asked ‘Why would the Mayor attend an event at which he is going to b ambushed.’  The comment is probably not true but it did reflect the distrust that exists between the people and their Mayor who got elected partially on his environmental credentials.

Meridian, the brick manufacturer is hold a meeting to update the community on where they are with their plans.  It will be a messy meeting – will the Mayor and the ward Councillor attend?




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7 comments to West Haven residents are told that they can win their battle with the brick manufacturer.

  • Judith Murray

    Thank you.

  • Judith Murray

    The TEC meeting November 19, 2017 on preserving the last vestiges of Carolinian forest in south west Ontario was filled with pertinent, excellent scientific information. When the Meridian agreement was put together in 1972 Burlington had 100,000 citizens. Add 84,000 to that number in 2017. Add scientific information, facts to the necessity of preserving this forest of 9,000 trees today when we fight to breathe clean air. We must reduce particulate dust, not increase it. Here’s the deal. To quote poet Maya Angelou, “When we know better, we DO better.” Well Meridian, we know better. Time to step up to the plate Meridian, Mayor, Counsellors, Premier Wynne, MPP, It is time to DO BETTER.

  • Terry

    The fact that Mayor Goldring and Rick Craven were not at the TEC meeting was disappointing but not too surprising. When the quarry owners announced over 2 years ago that they were going to expand their operation to within 50 meters of the Tyandaga community the decision was vigorously defended by Goldring and Craven as a ‘done deal’ situation – signed, sealed and delivered by a license issued in 1972 (45 years ago!). Accordingly, they took the proverbial bowl of water and washed their hands of the whole matter preferring to point the finger elsewhere

    It is difficult to understand how they could be so complacent and accepting about the annihilation of an estimated 9,000 – 10,000 trees for the creation of an URBAN quarry whilst politically planting seedlings in front of the ever-ready camera and spouting the benefits of a clean and green Burlington. It is difficult to understand their inaction with respect to the annihilation of the mature and lush ~35 acre forest that is the habitat to the many species (possibly endangered) that ‘call it home’. It is difficult to accept their lack of concern for the well being and health of the residents that could result from the noise and dust of the quarrying, concern that has been documented by many health professional experts!

    For the leaders of our city to have such a DO-NOTHING attitude is totally contrary to their commitment as elected officials and, in my opinion, verges on contempt. THANK YOU TEC for your dedication in doggedly pursuing this potential devastation and bringing awareness to the wider Burlington community. You are now gathering momentum and support and it is time for the Burlington City Council to fulfill their obligation as ‘guardians’ of your rights and as rate-paying residents to become DIRECTLY involved in your cause!

    • Townhouse Living

      The home owners that are complaining – what was on their property before the developer cleared the land to build their homes?

  • Lynn

    Absolutely shameful that their own councillor, Rick Craven, doesn’t even attend this meeting! And the mayor refuses to help also. Another day and another example of a Burlington councillor and our mayor having no respect or regard for the people they represent. With an election coming soon you’d think they would at least pretend to care!

    I hope the coalition succeeds and I will donate to the cause. When you take a few moments to read about the issue you see this is not a simple case of “well the residents should have known when they bought” or “well they have a licence”. It’s astounding that the mayor and councillor can’t see this and in fact refuse to even learn about it.

    • Townhouse Living

      “well the residents should have known when they bought” or “well they have a licence” Isn’t that the case though?

  • Phillip

    This situation is a “no-win” for the mayor and councillor when they don’t show up and support the constituents–a recurrent theme both with Brant St. development and the New Street bike lanes. I wouldn’t want to be either the mayor or councillor in next year’s local elections. While local elections tend to be characterized with voter apathy, there is nothing like an energized, angry group of residents committed to change.