May 17, 2017
Mr. Donald Furniss
Mayor, Township of Muskoka Lakes
1208 Beaumaris Road
P1L 1 W8
Re: Proposed Official Plan Amendment No. 46
Zoning By-Law Amendment 2017-51, ZBA 13/12
Proposed Lippa Pit and Quarry
Dear Mayor Furniss:
I am writing regarding the proposal to amend the Official Plan and Zoning By-law related to the Lippa Pit and Quarry application to rezone from Rural to Rural Industrial that will be considered by Council at its June 16, 2017 meeting. This letter is to express my strong opposition to that rezoning application.
In 1974 I purchased the Burwash Schoolhouse built by Arthur Middlebrook Senior in 1896. At 1002 Tribble Road, it sits on almost an acre of Lot 6 Concession 4 (See attached map). As you can see from the attached map, my property is at the corner of the Aspdin Road and Tribble Road, just kitty corner from where Butler Mill Road meets the Aspdin Road. Not surprisingly, my quality of life, health and the peaceful enjoyment of my property in the beautiful Muskoka woods would be devastatingly affected were the pit and quarry proposed by Mr. Lippa allowed to operate out of 1089 Butler Mill Road, north-east of Aspdin Road.
Over the years I have worked hard to maintain and improve the building and property, such that it has been recognized as one of the few remaining log schoolhouses in Muskoka still intact and in pristine condition, as recognized in the book Schoolhouses in Muskoka. While I live in Toronto, I currently spend long periods of time each season in my Muskoka home. Should this proposed pit and quarry be approved, I would not only suffer a reduction in the value of my property but I would no longer be able to spend time here.
Noise and Air Quality
As a senior I am very concerned about the negative impact on air quality from the dust pollution that is integrally connected with this type of industry. The quality and purity of the air in Muskoka has always been a key factor in my love of the area and the reason so many tourists want to visit it. As well, the noise and vibration from heavy truck traffic potentially carrying the annual extraction of 200,000 tonnes of sand, gravel and bedrock, on average 150 trucks per day at capacity, 7 days a week from early in the morning till 9:00 at night, as well as the additional noise from blasting, would make life there impossible. With 80% of the annual tonnage shipped from June 1st to November 30th the tranquillity and beauty of the lovely summer and fall months would be destroyed, not just for me, but for all the residents and tourists who come to this part of Muskoka, particularly during these months. As well, this dramatic increase in traffic from the number of haulage trucks will seriously degrade both roads, and as Muskoka taxpayers we will all have to pay more for their upkeep.
Health and Safety
Safety is also a key consideration for me, in my opposition to the proposed pit and quarry. Like my neighbours (there are 20 homes within 1 kilometre), I go for regular walks on both the Aspdin and Butler Mill Roads. If, as estimated, one truck will leave the quarry every 4.4 minutes, it will no longer be safe to walk on the roads closest to my property. The Aspdin Road is a very scenic route used by cyclists, school buses, mail deliverers and pedestrians. It has many hills, curves, blind corners and hidden driveways that can make it a challenge to navigate at the best of times. This much additional truck traffic will pose a real danger to public safety and a deterrent to tourism in this area. Additionally, the increase in pollution from haulage trucks and from particulate matter from resource extraction will be a major environmental and health risk to those of us (humans and animals) having to breathe these toxic fumes on a daily basis.
Like other residents of this area, I get my water from a well, and am thus very concerned about the potential danger of contamination of ground and surface water caused by blasting, hauling and other operations. As well, the land for the proposed quarry sits within the watershed of Skeleton Lake, a lake known for recreation and tourism. Streams that originate in ponds on the property of this proposed pit and quarry will ultimately end in Skeleton Lake, seriously threaten the health of the lake and destroy wildlife habitat.
It is not just humans who would be adversely affected if this proposal is approved. The proposed quarry would sit on land that is habitat for a wide variety of wildlife whose lives would be greatly disturbed by such an invasion. Over the many years that I have walked down Butler Mill Road and to the old mill which is on the site of the proposed quarry, I have seen moose, deer, bears, foxes, mink, beaver, and porcupines. The land of the proposed quarry is also home to many species of birds, including some of special concern such as the Eastern Wood Pewee and the Wood Thrush, and is the wintering grounds for the Snapping Turtle, a species to which the provincial government recently extended additional protection by banning hunting of the species.
Short term economic gains from resource extraction should not be allowed to cause permanent harm to residents, wildlife and the local tourism industry which employs many people in Muskoka directly and indirectly. In the past Council served notice to the public, the District of Muskoka and the Province of Ontario that it would consider “the preservation and enhancement of the natural environment of the Township in matters which come before it”. Today’s Council has committed to creating “a diverse community, where generations interact with nature, recreation, history and tourism: to respect, maintain and enhance OUR MUSKOKA.”
Please uphold this vision and commitment and help us keep the Aspdin area and Skeleton Lake home to a safe, healthy and diverse ecosystem by denying this application. Please don’t make a decision that will adversely affect the beautiful natural tourist attraction that this area of our Muskoka is.