By Kirk Winter

The municipal politics of Trent Lakes have been bedeviled for the last decade by the issue of gravel, its extraction and its transportation.

A citizen’s coalition, made up of residents from Trent Lakes and the City of Kawartha Lakes helped defeat the Dewdney Mountain Quarry expansion last year. Now, many of those people are fearful of a plan by the Rockridge Quarry to operate 24 hours a day/7 days a week.

I contacted Trent Lakes Mayor Janet Clarkson and spoke about this issue, about which the Mayor has some very definite views and opinions.

Mayor Clarkson told me that the Rockridge Quarry “will follow every rule and regulation that exists.” Clarkson is frustrated that the Municipality cannot stop quarry openings on their own, as quarries are under the purview of the provincial Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. Clarkson said she is upset that the Municipality cannot put up “undue roadblocks” to quarry development, and cannot “create legislation and could be financially libel if they did so to block quarries.”

Clarkson says she has spoken to the Ford Conservatives about the road damage done by gravel hauling and how little the Municipality gets in royalties from the Province. Clarkson shared that the royalties don’t even come close to covering the damage done by the trucks to roads in the Municipality, and that needs to change.

Clarkson realizes that the province faces a huge conflict of interest over quarry legislation. As the biggest user of aggregate in Ontario, the province wants a ready supply of aggregate at the lowest possible prices. Additional royalties paid to the Municipality would up the end-user costs to the province and any additional legislation that increased costs for quarry owners, would also be passed directly on the province in increased aggregate costs.

Regarding the rumours that the Rockridge facility wanted to operate 24/7, Mayor Clarkson said there will be unanimous opposition from all five members of Council to that proposal.

Clarkson said one of the few powers that the Municipality has left is over hours of operation. She accused some in the community of “fear mongering” by suggesting that Council would allow such a facility to operate around the clock. Clarkson said the owner of Rockridge owns a pit close to Buckhorn, and knows the expectations of doing business in the Municipality. She said a 24/7 pit would “be unheard of.”

Clarkson will be attending a public meeting about this issue at Flynn's Corners today, hosted by Bernie Fermann, but is looking forward to hearing what everyone has to say. With limited facilities available at Flynn's Corners, the Mayor wondered why the meeting wasn’t being held at the Township offices.

Local NewsDeb Crossen