In March 2011, the Highland Companies of Dufferin County filed an application with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources to excavate the largest limestone quarry in Canada’s history near Shelburne. The proposed “mega-quarry” would be located in the centre of Ontario’s largest potato growing region and threatens over 2,300 acres of our most valuable Class 1 agricultural land. Farmers, citizen groups, local politicians, land and water conservation advocates, such as the Ontario Farmland Trust (OFT), and others are banding together to recommend that the province reject the quarry application.
OFT wrote a letter to the Ministry of Natural Resources expressing concerns during a public comment period – you can read it here (PDF). We also featured the issue in our Fall 2011 newsletter.
On November 21, 2012, The Highland Companies announced their withdrawal from the application and plans for a rail corridor through Dufferin County to Owen Sound. At the time, Highland Companies still owned 6,500 acres of Class 1 farmland and could re-apply at any time. Then on July 16, 2013, Bonnefield Financial, an investment firm specializing in farmland acquisitions, bought all of Highland’s land holdings in the area with a promise to keep the land protected for agriculture and maintained in partnership with local farmers.
While the Melancthon fields may be secure for now, Ontario’s prime farmland and source water regions remain vulnerable. The present Provincial Policy Statement and Aggregate Resources Act still allow non-farming development on land and water that sustain us. Until legislation is changed, these vital resources are still at risk.
The Aggregate Resource Act has been under review. Read OFT’s recommendations for improved protection of farmland through the Aggregate Resources Act by clicking here.