Jeff Green | Apr 21, 2005
Feature article,April 21, 2005
Feature article April 21, 2005LAND O' LAKES NewsWeb Home
Contact UsTour renews concerns about mining exploration on private land
by Jeff Green
Unlike many people, who purchase property that is subject to mining claims, Marty Cadieux knew he would not own the mining rights to the lands he purchased near Westport in Tay Valley Township last year. In fact, he knew there was an active mining claim on the land, by Graphite Mountain, a company that has been active in Tay Valley township and Bedford District of South Frontenac for many years, and whose activities have spurred mining action groups in both places.
What Marty Cadieux didnt know was what kinds of activities Graphite Mountain was contemplating on his land. Since Cadieux purchased the land early last fall, Graphite Mountain has done some major trenching and stripped the surface off a large swath of land as well. There has been no subsequent clean up work done on the property by Graphite Mountain.
After being informed by the Ministry of Mines and Northern Development that he would be subject to a lawsuit if he filled in the trenches, Marty Cadieux decided to strike back. He advertised a Trashed Land, Trampled Rights tour of his property for April 9, and on a sunny Saturday morning, about 75 people arrived to look at the damaged state of his property. Among those in attendance were the Reeve of Tay Valley Township, mining committee chair Maureen Towaij, and senior representatives from the Mississippi and Rideau Valley Conservation Authorities.
Tay Valley Township Council was aware of what had taken place on Cadieuxs property, and on April 5 had writen a letter on the matter to Rick Bartolucci, the Minister of Mines and Northern Development on the matter.
The letter made reference to the problematic track record of Graphite Mountain. It also referred to a request that had been made in 2002 to former Minister Jim Wilson to initiate an investigation of all Graphite Mountain claims both pre-existing and new because of a long record of complaints against the company by landowners. The letter asks the Minister to take the necessary actions to ensure investigation and remediation of Mr. Cadieuxs property and other properties where Graphite Mountain is active.
Maureen Towaij, whose interest in mining issues provided the impetus for her entry into municipal politics, has been active since her election in 2003 in exposing how the Mining Act supersedes the authority not only of municipalities, but of the Ministry of the Environment as well. She has made this point in meetings with both Minister Bartolucci and Environment Minister Leona Dombrowsky.
The potential safety risk posed by the seven foot trenches on Marty Cadieuxs property are a case in point. Tay Valley Township has bylaws in place requiring pools to be fenced in for safety reasons. Seven-foot deep trenches which can equally fill with water, or be subject to cave-ins, pose equal if not greater safety concerns, particularly for children, Tay Valley Council wrote in their recent letter to Minister Bartolucci.
In an earlier letter to Minister Dombrowsky, Tay Valley made reference to section 78 of the Mining Act, which allows for the removal of relatively large amounts of material from any site, even those in proximity to waterways. These areas are protected from other development, such as cottage decks and the like, under comprehensive zoning bylaws.
To illustrate their concerns to Minister Dombrowsky, Tay Valley referred to the recent RenfrewMississippi-Rideau groundwater study, which said, Ninety percent of the study area is mapped as high Vulnerability because of the preponderance of shallow overburden. The thin soils provide minimal protection to underlying bedrock aquifers. The Ministry of the Environment has been active in water protection, and Tay Valley Council argued that the Mining Act overrides environmental protection measures.
As far as Marty Cadieuxs property is concerned, Senior Mining Lands Manager Ron Gashinski has been quoted in the Westport Review Mirror as saying, From looking at the trenches the clean up is minimal, and 99% of the time they are filled up.
Marty Cadieux has been unable to contact Graphite Mountain and he will no longer endeavour to do so. He awaits a Ministry of Mines inspection team that are due to arrive this week, in hopes they will force Graphite Mountain to fill in the trenches, allowing his land to begin to regenerate.