Six Nations of the Grand River Elected Council has tentatively agreed to a controversial quarry project in Hagersville, which could potentially bring Six Nations $1.4 million over the lifetime of the project.
The quarry site, southwest of Hagersville, will be operated by Brant Aggregates Ltd. and will provide Six Nations with 10 cents per tonne of aggregate mined – almost double what the province gets from similar aggregate projects.
Brant Aggregates is wishing to restart the pit, which had temporarily closed in the early 2000s.
There are almost 4,000 quarry pits in Ontario and hardly any of them provide benefit to First Nations, the community heard during an online engagement session held last week by the Six Nations Consultation and Accommodations Process (CAP) team.
An aggregate is sand, crushed stone or gravel.
Peter Graham, consultation supervisor, said the team will continue to seek community engagement until Oct. 19 before making a decision to finalize the agreement.
Aggregate is a type of mining, with less stringent environmental protections and a lower duty to accommodate First Nations, Graham told the online audience.
Graham said post-quarry rehabilitation is part of the agreement, which will include improving local meadows, woods, wetlands and ponds.
“Our rule of thumb – leave nature as nature,” said Graham. “That’s the way to go.”
At 10 cents a tonne, Six Nations’ benefit adds up to $1.4 million over the course of the agreement.
The revenue will go to one of the priorities identified in community surveys, with water, roads and housing being the top three.
The blasting will take place about 45 meters below ground.
Environmental effects include noise, dust and vibrations, but berms will be constructed to suppress the blasting, noise and vibrations, said Graham.
Community members expressed concerns with the idea of a quarry, considering its close proximity to the Six Nations reserve, with one commenter saying, “Six Nations is already sinking. This is just wrong on so many levels.”
Others had concerns about the level of compensation offered, saying it’s not enough.
“Six Nations would get 10 cents per tonne: that’s substantially more than the provincial government, which is expected to get 4.5 cents a tonne per aggregate,” said Graham. “It is also a higher rate than any other First Nation to the best of our knowledge has agreed to.”