| Apr 12, 2007

Feature Article - April 12, 2007

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Feature Article - April 12, 2007

NorthFrontenac mining group plannedby Jeff Green

It was a full house at the Snow Road Snowmobile clubhouse on Good Friday morning as a group of local residents and municipal politicians from Lanark and Frontenac Counties gathered to hear from Maureen Towaij of the Citizen’s Mining Action Group (CMAG) of Tay Valley, and Marilyn Crawford from the Bedford Mining Alert (BMA).

The two women recounted their experiences dealing with the Ministry of Mines and Northern Development (MMND) over mining claims on properties in their own regions.

They recommended that people whose properties have been staked by the uranium exploration company Frontenac Venture Corporation, and others in recent months, should form their own citizens’ group. This group could pool information and plan a co-ordinated response to the staking that has taken place, and the exploration that is planned for the coming years.


Maureen Towaij, from CMAG, talked about the attempts her group has made to influence provincial politicians on the matter of surface and subsurface property rights. In Tay Valley, as in Bedford and North Frontenac townships, prospectors have only been able to proceed with unimpeded claims staking because many of the landowners do not own the subsurface, or mining rights, to their own properties. Those rights are held by the Crown.

“Our high order solution, and this is one we have been promoting at all levels of the provincial government, even as far as the premier’s office, is to give landowners the right to buy back the subsurface rights to their properties,” said Maureen Towaij.

Towaij also talked about the hazards of abandoned mines in Tay Valley, saying that the government has been unwilling or unable to persuade mining companies to remediate the land after mining has been completed.

Marilyn Crawford talked more directly about strategies that people in North Frontenac might take in disputing some of the mining claims that have been made in recent months.

“Keep records of all the information you have, of all conversations you’ve had, everything,” she said, “but don’t forget that the mechanisms in the mining act are really about protecting claims from other prospectors, not protecting landowners from claims.”

Participants at the meeting were full of questions for the two speakers, and for Mark Burnham, the Chair of the Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority, who also took questions.

Reeve Keith Kerr from Tay Valley, and Mayors Bob Fletcher and Ron Maguire from Lanark Highlands and North Frontenac respectively, were present. Several township councillors were also present, along with Randy Hillier, who is seeking the Conservative party nomination in this October’s upcoming election.

Municipalities have no jurisdiction when it comes to the Mining Act, which supersedes the municipal act in many cases.

On the provincial level, Mark Burnham said that when the political parties are out of power, they tend to listen to the landowners, but that changes when they get in government.

John Kittle and Robert Quigley, the North Frontenac residents who organized the meeting, encouraged everyone to sign a contact list, and are planning to form a concerned citizens’ group.

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