Fredericton’s Chateau Heights and Royal Road residents have reason to worry about approval to blast rock at a quarry operation on Royal Road just outside city limits. The quarry had been denied approval to operate twice, in 2009 and 2010, by the Graham Liberal government.
Residents were left in the dark about the recent provincial government approval of the Percy Jones and Sons Ltd. quarry to operate in their backyards.
Quarries have an undeniable environmental impact that includes noise and dust pollution and their location in an area with water concerns should warrant an environmental assessment, public consultation and community consent.
Water for residents in the Chateau Heights subdivision has been a long time problem. Stephen Llewellyn’s “Residents worried about water and arsenic” article in The Daily Gleaner on May13th, noted that at least one resident living near the quarry on Royal Road uses a filter on their well water to remove arsenic. Residents should be concerned about their
well water with the potential for naturally occurring arsenic in rock to be mobilized with blasting. The Department of Environment’s response to not knowing about arsenic concerns, as reported in The Daily Gleaner on May 13th, is a cause for concern, which could have been avoided had opportunities for public input been granted.
The Department of Environment’s 46 conditions on the approval to operate the Fredericton north side quarry provides little comfort when residents are not part of those discussions and information is not readily available such as how will the limitations put on the size of blasting be monitored and how will the company’s water monitoring system be verified?
The Department of Environment says that they must be notified before blasting takes place but will the residents be notified?
Other concerns of residents include the quarry’s uphill location from the Nashwaaksis Stream, its close proximity to the Royal Road Elementary School and two rare plants on the cliffs.
Commission planning rules and environmental regulations should require public meetings, public consultation and community consent. It’s time to update the Quarriable Substances Act, Community Planning Act and other pieces of legislation pertaining to quarries to reflect today’s reality of quarries, many of them large-scale, that are venturing into fragile ecosystems and the backyards of residents. Blasting large amounts of rock changes the landscape and affects local ecosystems and the quality of life of neighbouring communities. “Quarry creep” is also a phenomenon to avoid where smaller quarries incrementally expand into larger quarries.
The Conservation Council repeats its request, a request supported by over 30 organizations across the province in a statement in 2009, for the Quarriable Substances Act to be amended to include mandatory opportunities for public input and requirements for community consent.