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What Will Happen To the Niagara Escarpment Plan?

I imagine everyone in the Province knows about the plans for the mega quarry just south of our area.  It has had strong opposition and may in fact have gained enough traction to be THE single issue that will affect the outcome of the next election.

Here in the southern Georgian Bay, we are dealing with at least two controversial quarry applications and both are located in the Niagara Escarpment and are in the Townships of Clearview and in Grey Highlands.  Both applications have been challenged by citizens at the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB).  One ruling has been issued.

In the case of the Walker quarry application for expansion of their existing operation, the OMB ruled in favour of the gravel company however, and this is a big however, it was not a unanimous decision.  Of the three OMB chairs who heard the case, two voted in favour and the third expressed strong opposition pointing to errors made by the other two.

One of the central points was that the application did not properly apply the principals of the Niagara Escarpment Protection Plan (NEP).  The NEC is a regulatory agency with a 17 member board appointed by order-in-council and they are charged with the task of administering the NEP as approved by the Provincial government back in the 1970s.  According to their website, the NEC “conducts itself according to the management principles of the Government of Ontario including the principles of ethical behavior, excellence in management, honest and ethical administration of public funds, professional public service with full accountability, consistency, fairness and courtesy.”

So back to the Walker quarry.  After the ruling came down from the OMB chairs, the citizens petitioned the NEC to stand behind their plan and order a judicial review of the OMB decision – something rarely done in Ontario.

This past week, in a landslide 10-3 decision, the Niagara Escarpment Commission DID vote to send the Walker decision to a judicial review.  The courts will now rule on the primacy of the Niagara Escarpment Plan (NEP) as it relates to the Walker application and will determine whether or not the Joint Board made errors in law by failing to apply the NEP and give the appropriate protection to the Escarpment’s most sensitive natural features.

This is a strong test of the strength of the NEC and the support for the plan.  The outcome will ultimately have an effect on all of us who live and recreate in this area.

It’s always a pleasure to meet new people and to assist them in meeting their real estate goals.  If you would like to schedule a buyer or seller consultation with me, please feel free to contact me anytime at 705-446-1762 or send me an email.

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