May 24, 2018

Erin council backs off pit decision

An overflow crowd and a petition with 772 names have forced Erin councillors to delay a controversial gravel pit vote, with the town now seeking a better deal with the pit operator. 
Council decided on Tuesday to defer a decision on whether to recommend that the county allow Halton Crushed Stone (HCS) to expand its existing gravel pit north to County Road 52.
Mayor Allan Alls said CAO Nathan Hyde will meet with the company to explore ways to reduce the impact of the expansion, across the road from the BelErin subdivision. He said the process could take until this fall.
Residents are concerned about noise, dust, traffic and visual appearance, and want a 300-metre setback. Various studies and concessions by HCS have not been sufficient to move the project forward, and the company says it is open to further discussions.
Resident Robyn Johnstone presented a petition urging a No vote, saying the expansion “threatens our families, Erin’s natural appeal and future prosperity.” It says property values would decrease by up to 30 per cent, and that recycling asphalt would release toxic dust. 
“We are not willing to roll the dice when it comes to the health of our children,” said Johnstone.
The expansion would allow gravel extraction above the water table on 150 acres of agricultural land, and storage of up to 60,000 tonnes of recycled asphalt.
County Planning Director Aldo Salis recommended approval, saying the proposal is “in the public interest” and that concerns have been adequately addressed.
The approval process requires an Official Plan change by the county and a further zoning decision by the town. The outcome could be appealed by either side.
Coun. Matt Sammut declared a conflict of interest since his home is near the pit, and he could not vote or participate in the debate.