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In Milton, voters want this proposed quarry scrapped

Dozens of residents, along with opposition party leaders and MPP hopefuls, gathered in Milton on Saturday to voice their opposition to a proposed quarry ahead of next week’s byelection. 

George Minakakis, chair of advocacy group Action Milton, said many in the area have been opposed to the Reid Road Reservoir Quarry. They’re concerned the quarry, which would be located along Highway 401, would contaminate local water supply, degrade air quality and disrupt residents in the area. 

“This issue is important and it actually will dictate how other issues are being dealt with,” said Minakakis, pointing to issues like affordability and housing. 

“If you can’t solve something as small as addressing the quarry … how do you address those issues that are much, much bigger?”

The quarry application by James Dick Construction Limited proposes to reactivate the former Woodlawn Guelph Campbellville Pit, which had its licence revoked by the province in 2008. 

Despite opposition from residents, the Town of Milton, Halton Region and Conservation Halton, the new quarry, also known as the Campbellville Quarry, is now undergoing an environmental assessment. Earlier this week, the Conservative government shot down a motion calling for the project to be cancelled outright.

Government, PC candidate, respond

When contacted by CBC Toronto, Premier Doug Ford’s office sent Ford’s recent comments on the project, saying his team, along with PC candidate and former Milton councillor Zee Hamid, will “go through the process.”

“We’re going to go through the environmental assessment and at the end of the environmental assessment, a decision will be made,” Ford said, adding he’s willing to review the decision if people “don’t like it.”

“You got to govern for the people. And that’s the way I’ve done it.”

Locals at Saturday’s demonstration say the quarry, along with the controversial Highway 413, are part of why they’re looking for an MPP who’s willing to go head to head with the Conservatives. Candidates from the official opposition NDP, the Liberals and the Greens say they’re up to the task. The Conservative candidate, Zee Hamid, did not reply to CBC Toronto’s request for comment.

The byelection is on May 2, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. You can find out more on the Ontario elections website

Candidates show support to demonstrators

In a statement to CBC Toronto, Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry spokesperson Melissa Candelaria said it understands “there are concerns” over the Campbellville Quarry.

“The outgoing MPP, Parm Gill, advocated that the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Park initiate an Environmental Assessment of the project, which is ongoing,” the email statement read.

“This assessment will include additional studies that go beyond the requirements of the project’s initial application process and will ensure that every opportunity is provided for local voices to be heard and respected.”

The Milton ward was left vacant when former Progressive Conservative MPP Parm Gill resigned from his seat and Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s cabinet in January to become a candidate for Pierre Poilievre’s Conservatives Party.

Three photos of three people edited to be shown side by side.
Milton byelection candidates Galen Naidoo Harris, left, Kyle Hutton, middle and Edie Strachan, right, showed up in support of the Campbellville Quarry protesters. (Martin Trainor/CBC)

According to Milton council documents, Ford and Gill have previously voiced their opposition to the proposed quarry — something opposition candidates reiterated on Saturday. Galen Naidoo Harris, Milton’s Liberal candidate says he wants to hold Ford “accountable.”

“Whether it’s the quarry, whether it’s housing, health care, education, it’s broken promises and it’s Doug Ford not stepping up for people in this community,” he said.

Greens candidate Kyle Hutton said similarly.

“This byelection is a chance people in the community, as well as across Ontario … to send a message that Doug Ford needs to hold to his promises, particularly with regards to protecting communities, protecting our farm land,” he said.

Edie Strachan, the NDP candidate for the ward, said she’s happy to support activists in the community.

“When we see people coming out to stand up … people can make a difference,” she said. 

Peter Graefe, an associate professor of political science at McMaster University, said the byelection comes just as Ford’s government is half-way through its second term.

“In many ways, it’s probably going to capture the popular mood in terms of how people are feeling about the Ford government,” he said.

“In a byelection where you probably won’t have a lot of people voting, people who get motivated and go out and vote can make a big difference.”

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