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Signpost photo by Wendy Spence
Heritage Road residents Lois Nisbet (left) and Marg Olson stand in front of the sign notifying residents of the planning application posted on the property that is slated to be turned into a gravel pit.

Residents object to proposed gravel pit

by Wendy Spence

     “We’re really fired up about this,” says Lois Nisbet, a Thames Centre resident who is opposed to the gravel pit operation proposed to be developed right across from her home on Heritage Road, north of Dundas Street. She’s not alone. A number of residents have expressed their displeasure with the project, and will be attending the council meeting on May 30. Their main concerns include: well water depletion, noise, reduction in property values, and dust. They had hoped that since fighting a battle to stop a gravel pit from moving into the neighbourhood in 2008, the issue would never crop up again. In that case, it kept getting deferred and never did move forward.
     The proposed gravel pit is 67.32 hectares in size, spanning two farm properties. Blythe Dale Holsteins Ltd. has submitted an application to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry for the gravel pit. A public information meeting was held at the end of April. Residents had until this past Friday to file objections with the ministry.
     There are many shallow dug wells surrounding the proposed operation. “This application is a ‘below the water table’ application,” Nisbet explains. “Our wells have never been an issue, always giving us lots of water, even during the driest of summers. There are 25 residents and a whole lot of cattle that need this water. Will we be compensated for this?”
      Nisbet pointed out that the population is growing and farmland is disappearing. “With our farmland gone, all of our food will have to be imported. Farmers feed cities, unless their land becomes a gravel pit.”
     Heritage Road residents said they are trying to stop another gravel pit application from destroying their quiet rural agricultural neighbourhood. “We can live with combines, tractors and other large machinery as that is what a farming community is all about. We can even handle the spreading of manure. When a combine and a gravel truck meet on our narrow gravel road, I shudder to think of the outcome. And it will happen, with at least 10 gravel trucks an hour entering and exiting the pit.”
     The residents are concerned about their property values being reduced if the project moves forward. “Who will buy a house across the road from a gravel pit? Will we be compensated for our losses?” Nisbet said she had a realtor in to discuss the possible ramifications. They said that the property wouldn’t necessarily decrease in value, but it would be harder to sell.
     The Nisbets would be able to see the gravel pit when looking out their front window. “A berm is to be built to stop the view of the gravel pit from our front window, but when driving around the countryside, we see many unkempt, weedy, unpleasant-looking berms.”
     Noise and dust pollution and road safety are big concerns. “The people in our community like to walk, bike or horseback ride up our road. How can that continue with 10 gravel trucks an hour on our road?” The residents are dreading the possible noise that would result if a gravel pit were located in their neighbourhood. “You live out in the country because you want the quiet.”
     There will be a presentation about the gravel pit at the May 30 council meeting.

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