Another tool at the province’s disposal is a Minister’s Zoning Order (MZO), through the Planning Act of Ontario, which gives the minister of municipal affairs the authority to zone any property in the province.
Zoning orders are rarely used where municipalities have existing zoning by-laws, but can be used to protect a provincial interest and effectively end the process of any prior application.
“If I’ve seen a place that we should be doing that (filing a MZO), it’s here,” said Miller.
He noted when the quarry was approved in 1972 by the now defunct Pits and Quarries Act, there were no concept of consulting with government bodies and those affected, or identifying possible issues with a proposed application.
“If it was just rural land, with no previous industrial license, would this Carolinian forested property, containing multiple endangered species, which is in close proximity to residences and has been identified as Greenbelt land suitable for expansion of adjacent conservation parkland, be approved for a quarry under the environmental review processes in place today?” asked Miller.
“If the answer is no, or likely not, then we are making a serious mistake here. This is not about wrongdoing by any of the (involved parties), it is a serious land-use planning mistake, which must be fixed.”
Miller referred to the principle in planning that when you apply for something, it should be judged by the rules in place at the time, but said those rules should protect a party for a few years, not 45 years.
Juno award-winning singer/songwriter Sarah Harmer opened the TEC forum with a song she wrote that was inspired by how the conservation organization she co-founded, Protect Escarpment Rural Land (PERL), helped stop an 82-hectare quarry at Mt. Nemo, north of Burlington.
She said the situation there, which “had a happy ending,” was comparable to here.