Lake St. George

Community Information Page


To provide timely information to full-time and seasonal residents about issues, concerns, celebrations and local events.

Opposition of Proposed Cumberland Quarry

We are a group of homeowners and cottagers on and around Lake St. George, who are concerned with the proposed Cumberland Quarry on Concession 11. This quarry has the potential to impact well and lake water in the surrounding areas. The proposed quarry site is part of a complex and very sensitive system of rivers, wetlands and groundwater streams which is called the Severn River Watershed. The watershed collects, filters and drains water from higher elevations which then travels into: Lake St. George (1.5 km from Quarry border), Severn River (2.2 km from Quarry border), Lake Couchiching (3.1 km from Quarry border) Sparrow Lake (3.8km from Quarry border).

26 August 2020

Proposed Quarry in our Community

In April 2018, paperwork was filed with Severn Township on behalf of Severn Aggregates Limited to license 138 hectares of land, and extract 118.5 hectares of land below water level. The new quarry would be situated between two other quarries: Seyler Pit/Quarry owned by Dufferin to the East, and Severn Pine Quarry operated by Walker Aggregates to the West.

Based on reports of other Quarries we have identified some major concerns, including:

Quarries are not required to eliminate dust under Ontario’s Aggregate Resources Act

○ Dust increases corrosion and is harmful to plants

Small particles of dust can travel far and be inhaled. The elderly and children are at highest risk for illness, especially diseases that affect the heart and lungs (e.g. asthma, bronchitis, emphysema, and pneumoconiosis [caused by inhaling dust]).

A common type of dust (called crystalline silica) is common at Quarries and is known to cause cancer

To reduce dust, chemicals that are toxic to plants and may contaminate the aquifer (clean drinking water supply) can be used

Since 2000, there are Canada Wide Standards in place, but no “safe” threshold of dust pollution exists. Many experts believe the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change standards are not strict enough to maintain clean air quality.

Reduced quantity and quality of surface water (rivers, lakes, etc) and groundwater (aquifers, wells, etc)

○ Water supply is easy to contaminate as Quarry work is done below-water and will stop the natural ecosystem from filtering dangerous particles

○ Surface water can be affected quickly (many kilometers downstream)

○ Groundwater can be affected more slowly, through the aquifer that is feeding our wells

○ Gravel extraction requires stone washing, using 1,000,000s of liters of water each year. This is often pulled from local water sources. A permit is required to draw more than 50,000 liters per day.

○ As there are multiple Quarries close to each other, there will be combined effects

Quarries remove all natural vegetation, topsoil and subsoil

○ This Quarry plans to extract up to 500,000 tonnes of aggregates per year

○ This leads to huge losses of animal wildlife, plants, and destroys the habitats and ecosystems

○ Nearby ecosystems are also affected by noise, dust, pollution and contaminated water

○ The disruption of surface water and groundwater leads to lower quality and quantity for humans (drinking water) and wildlife

○ Quarry is proposed in a greenland and environmentally protected space. The current Ontario government has removed protection for these regions to grow the economy during COVID-19.

● Use of existing haul route will increase: road traffic of heavy vehicles, wear and tear on the roads, noise/vibrations, dust particles, and danger to adults, children and animals due to reckless driving

○ South Sparrow Lake Road is not the route that should be used, but it is a shortcut that is often taken

Decrease in property values

○ Suggested value reduced up to 25% within 0.5 km of the Quarry, and 15% within 1 km of the Quarry (2006, economy study)

The license alone can be enough to reduce property value (does not matter if the site is being used)

Long term plan of the quarry owners may include landfill

We need to ACT NOW! Destroyed habitat, loss of wildlife/vegetation, and reduced water quality/quantity cannot be fixed once the damage is done. If you are interested in receiving further information, please join our Contact List. This affects us all and we hope to receive your support.

If you are interested in setting up a meeting time to look over the proposed quarry files please contact Andrea Woodrow at the Severn Township Office.

Timeline of Events:

  1. Land between Sparrow Lake Road and Nichols Line, north of Cambrian, was sold to a construction company (unspecified date). Wetlands were affected and dried up through underground blasting and pumping. Wetland ecosystem collapsed, wildlife were harmed, and the aquifer supplying drinking water was possibly affected.

  2. Land was zoned as Greenland and Environmentally Protected land as per Severn Official Plan 2010.

  3. Nicolas Line Haul Route Agreement between the Corporation of the Township of Severn and M.A.O. Aggregates Inc. and Walker Aggregates (May 2008) requires aggregate companies to maintain and fix haul routes.

  4. Accidental placement of gravel road by Severn Township staff splits wetland into two (2014).

  5. Consulting firm MTE Limited submits application for a Quarry license for Severn Aggregates Limited (April 30, 2018).

  6. Severn Aggregates holds public meeting at Lake St. George Community Hall (May 24, 2018). Four people attended.

  7. Walker Aggregates supervisor warns residents that a new Quarry would have a negative effect on water quality and quantity on Lake St. George (August 2019).

  8. Dufferin Construction is awarded a contract for road-resurfacing to extend haul route (April 22, 2020).This is reported as over budget by 25%; total cost of $788,000) (July 22, 2020).

  9. Dufferin Construction pumping water from Lake St. George (July 10, 2020). Inform residents this is their right. Township contacted and three days later withdrawal of water started to happen from another site. Activity is also observed by residents at proposed Quarry site.

  10. Inquiries made by residents as to why application reports are not available online in the Severn Township archives (July 11, 2020). This is usual practice for permit applications.

  11. A member of Severn Township Council expresses concerns to residents that Severn Aggregates Application (made by MTE) is concerning, especially deforestation and draining of wetlands without Township permission (July 16, 2020).

  12. Residents are advised by Andrea Woodrow, Township Director of Planning in Severn, to contact Brent Armstrong, Aggregate Resources Manager at the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNRF) in Midhurst for technical reports (August 8, 2020). MNRF states delays due to COVID-19, but reach out to Quarry applicant (August 11, 2020).

  13. Andrea Woodrow states she has a copy of the requested paperwork, but cannot provide them for viewing by residents due to COVID-19 (August 16, 2020). Residents are re-directed back to Brent Armstrong.

  14. Brent Armstrong again contacts Severn Aggregates representative, Jay Flanagan, to request the technical report (August 17, 2020).

  15. A resident receives a phone call from David Kennedy of Severn Aggregates (August 18, 2020). He requests we arrange a meeting at Lake St. George Community Hall.

  16. In a phone call between Brent Armstrong and a resident, Brent discloses he is “unable to find the disc” that the technical reports are stored on and residents will have to wait until hearing (August 21, 2020). The same day, Brent Armstrong contacts Jay Flanagan quoting provincial directive to release technical support to concerned residents.

  17. David Kennedy emailed residents the following (August 24, 2020): “Severn Aggregates position is the comment period is long over with, therefore, anyone requesting to review the supporting documentation for our ARA Application is not a neighbour, or they would have been involved in the Process. We are willing to setup a viewing time, and place, by appointment only, after the individual supplies us with their full name and mailing address, and contact information.”

Photos below show how alterations made to the land and current activities has resulted in the drying up of wetlands since 2009.