We are happy to announce the Town of Clearview has decided to withdraw from permitting the proposed reconstruction of 26/27 Sideroad. We want to say thank you for your donations, support and all the hard work of the Trust members/volunteers during this long endeavour.
The fight is not over as we look to recoup our costs from the Town of Clearview. To learn more, see the article from the Creemore Echo, written by Trina Berlo.
On the heels of the withdrawal of a development permit appeal and Niagara Escarpment Plan amendment relating to the proposed reconstruction of 26/27 Sideroad, Blue Mountain Watershed Trust has notified the Ontario Land Tribunal that it will be going after the Township of Clearview for $32,425 in costs.
The amount reflects the costs incurred to retain expert witnesses during proceedings.
George Powell said the costs are significant to a grassroots organization that wouldn’t have been able to participate if they hadn’t received pro bono legal services. The not-for-profit environmental organization whose mission is to preserve and enhance the Blue Mountains watershed played a role in the classification of the project and completed its own environmental investigations which identified seven additional wetlands that were not included in the 2014 Environmental Impact Study.
“Although cost awards are rare, pursuant to the Rules, the Tribunal is able to order costs against a party if the party’s conduct has been unreasonable, frivolous or vexatious, or if the party has acted in bad faith. It is the Trust’s position that the circumstances identified in Rule 23.9 were present in these matters,” states a memo from the law firm Davies Ward Phillips and Vineberg.
Clearview Township’s withdrawal from the appeal process came after the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks determined that the project was not properly assessed as a Schedule A+ and should be assessed as the more stringent Schedule C pursuant to the Municipal Class Environmental Assessment (MCEA).
The reasons for requesting costs includes undue delays that stretched the tribunal over seven and a half years, resulting in the unnecessary expenditure of time and money, as well as increased stress on local community groups and nearby property owners.
“It is the Trust’s position that the numerous delays caused by Clearview, including as a result of the incomplete EIS work and improper classification of the project under the MCEA, were unreasonable and resulted in undue delay. Over the past seven and a half years, adjournments related to the above-noted matters have been at the request of Clearview. Meanwhile, the Trust has met the applicable deadlines and acted with urgency. This has required both significant time and resources from the Trust,” says the memo. “Further, Clearview’s failure to properly classify the project also resulted in a potential violation of law, as the underlying project studies were, in addition to being factually deficient, not completed in full accordance with the proper EAA and MCEA requirements.”
The proposed upgrades to the 26/27 Sideroad stem from a 2006 application to expand the Walker Aggregates quarry in Duntroon.
Improvements to the sideroad were required as a result of a joint board hearing in order to facilitate the closure of the quarry portion of County Road 91 and sale to Walker Aggregates. The portion of the road west of County Road 124 was downloaded to Clearview Township by the County of Simcoe after the Niagara Escarpment Commission staff opposed a plan to upgrade the road and permit access to the quarry extension.
All of the council discussions on the topic have taken place in closed session.
Prior to 2013, the township had the authority to make the 26/27 road improvements within an existing road allowance without having to obtain a development permit from the Niagara Escarpment Commission (NEC).
With Clearview bogged down in the process of applying for NEC approval and subsequently appealing its decision, Walker Aggregates received permission to tunnel under County Road 91 in 2015 to proceed with the quarry expansion.