By Chris Lewis | May 20, 2021
A controversial quarry application in Conception Bay South was turned down by council on Tuesday.
The proponent applied to develop the 19-hectare quarry, including an asphalt plant, at Middle Ridge, about 800-metres south of Tilley’s Road and about 1,000-metres west of the Foxtrap Access Road. The quarry’s lifespan was projected to be 10 years.
Planning and development committee chairman Rex Hillier presented the motion to refuse the quarry.
Hillier said it was council’s opinion the quarry would result in nuisances of many kinds such as smells, noise, dust, vibrations, and an increase in industrial traffic to the area.
“The trigger here for council is that 1,000-metre distance,” Hillier said. “If we’ve got residents within that 1,000-metres who would be subject to those nuisances in the motion, then it’s on us to refuse the application.”
Hillier said the Town received a large number of responses about the quarry from residents in the form of calls and e-mails.
Inside the 1,000-metre radius outlined in the proposal, there are about 195 residences.
“This is not the place, at this point in time, that anybody needs to be putting a quarry,” Hillier said.
Ward 3 councillor Gerard Tilley said he supported Hillier’s recommendation, which was echoed by every other councillor present.
Tilley said the concerns he heard from people spanned far beyond the scope of the streets mentioned in the proposal. He said there is “pristine” land in that area for agriculture and farming, and a quarry is not something he would want to see there.
“There were 260-odd submissions, and I don’t think one of them was in favour,” Tilley said. “Of all my years on council, I think this is the highest generation of responses I’ve seen in the town.”
Councillor Kirk Youden noted that, like the City of St. John’s, CBS’s residential areas are often found along what is known as a quarry belt. He suggested it is worth reaching out to St. John’s to discuss the topic.
“Like it or not, there’s a need for these materials in order to build houses, to build roads, and what have you,” Youden said. “I think being proactive and identifying an area where that can happen, I think that would be a step forward … I think this warrants a bigger discussion so that we can properly expedite and control where these developments happen.”
Ward 1 councillor Darrin Bent said the proposal is a sign of something much bigger than just an application refusal.
He said the proponent could very easily have moved the quarry only a few hundred metres in another direction and instead applied to the City of St. John’s and gotten approval. This, he said, is a big concern. He did not want to see the Peacekeeper’s Highway plagued with sights of empty quarry pits.
“We’re a hinterland for St. John’s, and that makes us a prime target for this sort of application,” Bent said. “I don’t see (Conception Bay South) becoming a quarry pit destination for anybody. I know we need the resources, but this is a big province and there are lots of places to get resources.”
Like Youden, Bent argued a serious discussion is necessary when it comes to such developments, even suggesting a moratorium on applications until it is sorted out.
“You don’t hear of many quarries being turned down, and that’s a big concern as this goes on,” Bent added. “Maybe, we should look at asking for a moratorium until we can get some agreement between our neighbours and ourselves on how this is going to work. Or maybe we need to look at something bigger, and try to get the province to encapsulate our headwaters in our borders … I appreciate our ability tonight to be able to turn down a quarry … But that doesn’t stop things from happening a few hundred metres away to the left of where they’re proposing this, and the effect could be exactly the same for our residents.”
Before bringing the discussion to a close, Hillier pointed out there had been residents concerned over the fact they had not received a letter detailing the proposal.
Those residents, he said, were living on streets including Red Bridge Road.
“The people who got letters were the ones inside this 1,000-metre radius,” he explained. “And of course, it was on our social media sites. We chose to stay inside that 1,000-metre radius.”
Put to a vote, Hillier’s motion to reject the quarry passed unanimously.