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Lack of quarry rule enforcement frustrates northwest landowners

Camp and homeowners near Thunder Bay will have to continue their fight against a gravel pit operating near Surprise Lake now that the Lakehead Rural Planning Board says it doesn't have the money to enforce the zoning rules.
A concerned land owner says gravel companies are taking as much aggregate out of the ground as possible near his home in Lappe, because there are few rules in the unincorporated area. (Lorne Taylor)

Camp and homeowners near Thunder Bay will have to continue their fight against a gravel pit operating near Surprise Lake now that the Lakehead Rural Planning Board says it doesn't have the money to enforce the zoning rules.

The chair of the Lappe Services Board, Ralph Bullough, said land in the area is being abused by companies that know there are no enforcement bodies.

"We are looked at as being the source of gravel for the entire district, only because we can't provide a regulation,” said Bullough, who lives near the pit.

The planning board told Bullough to petition the province to allow the Ministry of Natural Resources to enforce the pits and quarries act in unincorporated areas.

Taranis Contracting has pulled its application to run a mobile crusher at the site, but Bullough said he fears other companies may try to set up shop.

He said the main issue is the services board can't create or enforce bylaws.

"No matter how strongly we feel about it, we can't fund our own operation. We can't do it, so we're beggars in our own house … because we have no ability to do anything,” Bullough said.

“This is really a dysfunctional setup."

Lucy Kloosterhuis, the chair of the Lakehead Rural Planning Board,  said the property is not  zoned properly, and can't take the company to court.

"The time and the cost — we don't have the dollar bills to pay for it,” she said.

“It will take years. I think we will get a better result if we get someone to actually enforce the pits and quarries act."

Kloosterhuis said she’s hopeful the province will change the rules so the MNR can enforce the pits and quarries act in unincorporated areas.

The planning board members say they will lobby ministers at the Ontario Good Roads Conference Feb. 23-26 in Toronto.

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