Town of Wawa may buy stake in delayed quarry

Town of Wawa may become part owner of proposed quarry delayed by bad economy and municipal board hearings.

Proposed quarry said to bring 20 jobs and economic spinoffs to town

Municipal board hearings and a bad economy have stalled a quarry proposed for a site in Wawa, Ont.

A quarry proposed for the shores of Lake Superior, once delayed by community opposition, has now been stalled by the recent recession.

The Ontario Municipal Board approved the quarry near Wawa after three years of hearings in 2009.

But the hard economic times have kept it from opening and bringing 20 jobs to the town, north of Sault Ste. Marie.

Wawa town council approved the quarry six years ago. But a citizen's group appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board and the recent recession have stalled the project.

Wawa chief administrative officer Chris Wray says all the delays have been very frustrating.

"The funny thing about it, fate plays a role here," Wray said of the economy. "Certainly, with the Ontario Municipal Board, if we had been before the board two years before we went and had the approval, the quarry would probably be going now."

Wray says the town badly needs the 20 jobs and economic spin-offs of the Lakeside Harbour that would come with a quarry.

Wray says Wawa town council is considering borrowing millions of dollars to become part owner of the quarry, so that it will open sooner rather than later.

But he says the town is hopeful the quarry owners can find private investors instead.

"It's certainly out of the realm of normalcy, that's for sure," Wray says. "But it's all about getting the operation up and running, because once it goes, it's going to be self-sustaining."

Wray says Wawa would get a cut of the quarry profits, plus tax revenue, as well as the jobs for residents.

"There were people who were certainly hoping for the project to maybe get a job and there were people who had concerns and there were people in the middle," he explains. "But time has passed and everybody's working together now," said Joel Cooper, a member of the citizens group that fought the quarry.

Cooper says if the quarry ever opens, his group will keep a close eye to see if it has any affect on the waters of Lake Superior.