A cement company's plans to excavate a rock quarry in Kemptville is drawing criticism from residents concerned the project could pollute the local water supply and drive down their property values.
Lafarge told the CBC in a statement that the company is working to address community concerns after applying for a licence to open a 121-acre sand and gravel pit operation near the intersection of Bennett Road and South Gower Drive.
The area is already home to one operational gravel pit, which is smaller than the proposed McGill Pit.
Kemptville residents plan to present a petition against the plan for the new pit before the municipality of North Grenville votes on the proposal on March 3.
Jim Bertram is worried a new pit will damage his sprawling, tree-covered lot — and natural well water below — where he has lived with his wife for decades. He estimated that dozens of commercial dump trucks will leave the quarry every hour if the new pit goes ahead.
"We're downstream from the pit and that is something I can't speak (about) with expertise, only concern," he said.
Ric Holt, of the group Ontario Gravel Watch, suggested stricter industry regulations for gravel pits, which he said are often poorly inspected and maintained.
"It takes the covering off of the earth and leaves exposed the water table. So if you just trip with your five gallon can of gas it goes right into the water table," Holt said. "We're carting away the hills of Ontario."
Holt said legal battles to stop pits usually end up at the Ontario Municipal Board — and can cost around $500,000.
Lafarge welcomes input from neighbours
Lafarge spokesperson Regan Watts told the CBC in an email that the company has done "detailed studies" to minimize the project's impact on traffic, noise and the environment — the watershed in particular.
"We don't anticipate any significant impact on the local watershed," Watts said.
Though the company's original proposal has already been revised based on feedback from the communit, Watts said Lafarge continues to welcome input from neighbours.
"We have been discussing proposed revisions to the application with members of the local community. Our efforts to work with them are ongoing and we would be pleased to share these studies and our plan with the local community. If there are suggestions on how to improve our plans, we'd be happy to work with our neighbours," Watts said.