Paris citizens clear first hurdle in protecting water

PARIS – Paris residents who have been objecting to a water-taking contract at a gravel pit received good news this week that the Ontario Environmental Review Tribunal has agreed to hear their concerns.

Ron Norris is president of Concerned Citizens of Brant was excited to hear the news, even though their appeal could still go either way.

“Our message that more current science is needed in considering testing for water-taking permits is getting through,” he told the Expositor. “Getting governments to look at more current science and more current studies is the right way to go.”

The tribunal found that at least some of the complaints are valid and deserve a sober second look.

CHR, formerly Dufferin Aggregates, needs to draw water from the aquifer to wash the gravel as they mine it. Citizens believe it will disrupt the natural replenishing of fresh water into the Grand River.

The Tribunal will meet with those representing the citizen’s group Sept 2, at 10 a.m., in the Brant County council chambers.

According to the CCOB media release and website, a late March 2016 52-page decision of a panel of the Environmental Review Tribunal, granted CCOB and the County of Brant leave to appeal certain conditions in two licenses granted CRH Canada that were issued by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change. The licenses would have allowed the company to take water for its aggregate washing operations from an area close to the well-head protection area of the Paris drinking water supply, and establish sewage works for the management of water taken.

However, in mid-April 2016, the Ministry brought a motion seeking to have the decision granting leave reconsidered. But a different panel of the Tribunal rejected this government bid in a 59-page decision released in June 2016 holding that it was not advisable to reconsider the decision of the Tribunal granting leave. The review panel noted that there was nothing unfair or materially in error in what the leave panel had decided in granting leave to CCOB and the County to appeal certain of the environmental conditions in the two licenses. Furthermore, the review panel noted that applications for leave to appeal environmental licenses are often brought by citizens groups with limited resources and that granting the Ministry’s motion would have added another stage in the litigation and detract from the access to justice and public participation goals of the province’s environmental bill of rights law.”

The results of the two Tribunal decisions allow CCOB and the County to now present their full case and seek a decision on the merits of the environmental license conditions before a panel of the Tribunal, probably in the Fall 2016.

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