Residents in British Settlement and Westcock are gearing up to fight another quarry in their area — a quarry that they fear would destroy property values, jeopardize water supplies, endanger the stability of their homes and pose a threat to the safety of local children.
A group called the Sackville Parish Local Service District Advisory Committee has organized an emergency community meeting at St. Ann’s Church hall on Wednesday, March 20 at 7 p.m.
The group was reacting to news that Bowser Construction of Sackville received conditional approval from the Southeast Planning Review and Adjustment Committee on January 23rd to establish a rock quarry off British Settlement Road East near Green Road. Only six people whose properties are within 100 metres of the proposed quarry had received notices about it.
Sharon Ward, who lives at 221 British Settlement Road, says she and her husband first got wind of the quarry in late February when somebody put survey tape around trees on their lawn.
Ward says Bowser Construction is proposing to use an old right-of-way only 25-35 feet from her home to gain access to the quarry which would be a few hundred metres back in the woods. She says it would mean huge, rock-hauling trucks rumbling along a narrow, 20-foot right-of-way beside her house and then turning onto a residential street not designed for heavy equipment.
“It’s going to change a lot of the way of life around the neighbourhood, not only my house but around the neighbourhood,” Ward says.
“The school bus lets the children off and they walk up and down the road,” she adds. “My grandchildren are used to being able to play right close to where the right-of-way is.”
Randy Johnson, who lives nearby, worries that blasting in the quarry would affect the quality of the well water he depends on to operate the East Coast Beef Jerky business he established about five years ago.
“It’s hard to find good water as it is,” he says. “My well is down 205 feet, so any blasting could ruin my water and then the business is done.”
According to the minutes of the planning review committee hearing in January, Giles Beland of Bowser Construction responded to property owners’ concerns about water saying, that “a hydrology study indicated that any impact on groundwater supplies was extremely unlikely.”
The minutes note that the planning committee also received a letter from resident Garry Goodwin who owns the right-of-way that Bowser is proposing to use.
During a telephone interview, Goodwin expressed strong opposition to the quarry saying he will not be moving a shed that sits close to or even right on the edge of the right-of-way.
He also scoffed at the planning committee’s review.
“That bunch in Moncton, they’re just a joke,” he said. “They don’t even know where British Settlement is, they don’t know where we live.”
Goodwin said his home would be about 300 metres from the proposed quarry.
“There’s already enough dynamite going off with the existing pits and we don’t need a new one,” Goodwin added referring to a quarry farther away from his home where rock blasting has been going on for decades. He said residents have had to cope with damage to their homes as well as collapsed wells.
He said he had to replace his well and pay $2300 to repair damage to the flue above his fireplace as well as cope with cracked windows and the cracked floor in his carport.
A letter from the Sackville Parish Advisory Committee to the provincial ministers of the environment and transportation earlier this month also points to “major issues” with the existing quarry including wells drying up, poor air and water quality, cracked basements and walls, houses shaking during blasting and lowered property values.
The letter calls on the ministers to prevent another quarry in British Settlement.
“This is a beautiful area and we do not want it destroyed by heavy industry,” the letter says. “It cannot be reclaimed once the damage is done.”
In its January decision, the planning committee imposed a number of conditions on the proposed quarry including the requirement that Bowser Construction obtain an Access Permit from the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure, submit a legal document identifying the use of a right-of-way as an access route and obtain approval for the quarry from the provincial department of the environment and local government.
So far, calls to Bowser Construction have not been returned.
To read the January 23rd minutes of the Southeast Planning Review and Adjustment Committee, click here.