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Guelph set to annex Dolime Quarry into city limits


July 20, 2021
By Rock to Road Staff

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Council in Guelph, Ont., has approved a plan to annex the Dolime Quarry into the city’s limits.

The quarry, which has been in operation for 150 years, has supplied the surrounding communities with limestone. But under the plan approved by council, the quarry will close and the land will be annexed into the city, remediated and eventually turned into a residential development.

“This is a very exciting step in addressing long-term concerns around protecting Guelph’s drinking water,” said Guelph Mayor Cam Guthrie in a press release. “This is a legacy moment for this term of council and I’m proud of the unanimous support that this step has received from my fellow members of council.”

“This is maybe not the type of thing that you see a ribbon cutting for or in the media, but this is a major issue for us as a community,” he said during a press conference.

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Council’s approval of Guelph’s boundary change followed unanimous support from Wellington County and Guelph/Eramosa Township Councils and will now be sent to the Province of Ontario for approval.

The city’s request for a Minister’s Zoning Order to establish the principle of residential use on the quarry lands will also be sent to the province. There are no timelines for the province’s decision-making on these items.

“Council’s amended motion for the requested zoning order includes assurances for a thorough development planning process which would include environmental, servicing and transportation impact studies and further opportunities for community engagement,” says Jennifer Rose, general manager of Environmental Services for the City. “This is an amendment that city staff support, and we appreciate council’s clear direction.”

The city is doing testing through water supply planning work that will inform the design and function of the water management system the city will later build to maintain a safe supply of drinking water. Through this work city staff will also determine how much water will be available for the city’s needs.

Quarry to close

Under the Council-approved solution, the Dolime Quarry will close early and the quarry site will be revitalized into a new mixed-use residential neighbourhood. Most importantly, the city will take control of the quarry’s water supply which is essential for protecting the clean and safe drinking water Guelphites value, the city said in a press release.

Dolime Quarry currently diverts about 11 million litres of water a day, some of which the city could use for its drinking water supply when it assumes control of the water.

The city would also build a system to protect the groundwater supply from any exposure to surface water contamination that could result from damage to the aquitard.

River Valley Developments, the owners of the quarry, would continue to own the property and would lead the revitalization of the quarry site with a new residential neighbourhood.

First Nations support

The plan to annex the quarry lands in Guelph, Ont., also has support from the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation.

“This proposed annexation will enable the city to take control over the Dolime Quarry’s water management, ensuring the safe protection of the city’s drinking water supply for decades to come,” wrote Chief Stacey Laforme in a letter to the provincial government. “My understanding is that this proposed annexation is part of a more comprehensive settlement pathway to solve water quality and quantity concerns initially raised by the City over a decade ago. At that time, the City became concerned that operations at the Dolime Quarry may have damaged the underlying aquitard, endangering the safety of the City’s drinking water supply as a groundwater-based community.”

Laforme also asked to be engaged in future discussions on the use of land, particularly regarding the residential development.