Woolwich council set to vote on controversial Maryhill gravel pit proposal next week

The controversy surrounding a proposed gravel pit near Maryhill will come to a head next week as Woolwich council is set to vote on the matter Tuesday.

It’s been a hot-button topic for more than a year with some residents putting up signs throughout the community that read "stop the gravel pit."

The Guelph-based construction company plans to use 230 acres of land on Forester Road for the gravel pit, which would be in operation for 12 to 15 years.

“The materials from the pit will primarily supply our asphalt and concrete plants in Puslinch, as well as construction projects in the Guelph-Wellington and Waterloo areas,” George Lourenco, the director of lands and resources for Capital Paving, said in an email to CTV News.

“It’s a loss of prime agricultural farmland,” said Bonnie Bryant with Hopewell Creek Ratepayers' Association, a group that has been lobbying for the project to be scrapped.

The group says there are several concerns with the proposal, including the site being close to a golf course along with other adverse effects.

“Very disruptive. There’s going to be dust, there’s going to be noise, there’s going to be traffic. There’s going to be a huge amount of traffic,” said Bryant.

But Capital Paving's director countered some of the concerns.

Laurenco said 94 percent of the land will gradually be rehabilitated back to agricultural use. Dust and noise will be kept within acceptable guidelines and the pit would operate at half capacity, meaning 30 trucks per day. It's an increase in traffic the area can handle, according to a study conducted by the company.

"Capital has undertaken comprehensive studies on dust, traffic, noise, hydrogeology, cultural heritage, agriculture, land use planning, archaeology, visual impacts and the natural environment," Lourenco said.

A staff report going to Woolwich council notes "no unacceptable impacts will occur" and is recommending council approve the project.

The Mayor of Woolwich said the township will work to find the right balance before making a decision.

“To listen to the applicant, to listen to the community, and to listen to our staff. And then we just have to try and make the best of overall decision for the community,” Mayor Sandy Shantz said.

“We would like to see council deny it. They should deny it. They should listen to their constituents,” said Bryant.

Some residents said if it is approved, the fight will continue.

“We can file with LPAT (The Local Planning Appeal Tribunal) and take it to the courts basically,” Bryant said.

Capital Paving said it is hopeful council will approve its application for rezoning and an Official Plan amendment.

If approved, a pit license could be issued by 2022.