From a health and safety standpoint, how does Walker conform to ministry standards?
The aggregate industry is heavily regulated in Ontario. Operations of a quarry are governed by limits set by the Ministry of the Environment and operators are required to comply to those limits.
We are required to provide a yearly compliance report and annual monitoring reports to the ministry. In addition, we go above and beyond what is required in terms of minimal standards. In cases where there are additional concerns, we have used enhanced mitigation and monitoring programs to ensure the health and safety of the public.
It is important to note that these same regulations do not exist in other countries, care should be taken when researching aggregate operations outside of Canada.
How far advanced is the application?
The Application for the proposed Upper’s Lane Quarry has been submitted and deemed complete by the City of Niagara Falls, the Niagara Region and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF).
The next step in the license application process involves reviews from the Joint Agency Review Team (JART) as well as peer reviews and Provincial Agency review. This review is expected to extend throughout the spring and summer of 2023.
We are currently accepting public comments per the Aggregates Resources Act (ARA) notification and consultation process, the last day to provide comment is the 3rd day of April, 2023. Details for commenting are outlined in the Public Notice of Application.
What studies are required in order to get an approval?
The following studies will be conducted:
- Archaeological Assessment
- Hydrogeological Assessment
- Natural Environment Assessment
- Agricultural Impact Assessment
- Air Quality Study
- Traffic Study
- Blasting Impact Assessment
- Planning Justification Report and Aggregate Resources Act Site Plans
- Cultural Heritage Assessment
- Visual Impact Assessment
Studies will be publicly available and posted on this website. Subscribe to our newsfeed to find out when studies are posted.
What approvals are required?
Gaining approval for a new quarry will not happen overnight. It requires a rigorous process that can take several years. The process requires permits, approvals and inputs from a number of agencies including:
- An Official Plan amendment from the Regional Municipality of Niagara
- Official Plan and Zoning Bylaw amendments from the City of Niagara Falls
- A License under the Aggregate Resources Act from the Ministry of Natural Resources
- A Compliance Approval for water, air and noise discharges from the Ministry of the Environment
- A Permit to Take Water under the Ontario Water Resources Act from the Ministry of Environment
How will Walker protect my water supply?
We will have conducted a detailed hydrogeological assessment of the groundwater. If it is determined that there is potential for your water supply to be affected, action will be taken to mitigate and protect from those effects. A monitoring program will be in place during and after the quarry’s operation to ensure ongoing protection.
How will traffic affect me?
We work diligently in and around all of our sites to keep the roads safe for the community. We remind drivers to respect speed limits and be courteous to neighbours through signage, and letters drafted in five languages. In our letters, we notify drivers to limit their use of engine brakes knowing that these can create unwanted noise. To reinforce these operating principles, we employ a retired police officer to periodically monitor speeds and use of engine brakes on the roads used to enter and haul materials from the quarry.
Each of our sites follows a Traffic Management Plan that is given to all customers and drivers. The Traffic Management Plan lists general safety rules for operators on-site, as well as rules for entering and exiting the site in a way that maintains our neighbours’ safety.
For more information on traffic, please see our Traffic Impact Study.
Will blasting affect my home?
A blast exerts a designed amount of energy into rock to fragment it. Noise and vibration from a blast is the result of excess energy that was not consumed in breaking up the rock. Through extensive studies – leveraging community input and the performance improvement discipline of Six Sigma – we are able to adapt our blasting plan to best meet our goal of using just enough energy to fragment the rock, without creating excess noise or vibrations.
All blasts are designed with millisecond delays between holes to reduce vibration. The resulting vibration levels are monitored both on and off-site to confirm we meet provincial operating guidelines and to ensure that our neighbours aren’t impacted. Blasting schedules may be altered by weather conditions as certain conditions – like high humidity or cloud cover – can make the noise more noticeable off-site.
For more information on vibrations and blasting, please see our fact sheet: Blasting and Vibration. Blasting schedules are posted to our corporate website.
Will I hear the quarry?
We recognize that noise from our operations can be a nuisance for our neighbours, so we take every reasonable measure possible to reduce the amount of noise generated. For example, our heavy equipment and trucks do not have the traditional noisy back-up beepers but are instead equipped with a special low-frequency back-up alarm that can only be heard when you’re near the truck.
We have also designed our quarry operations with noise reduction in mind. Blasting is planned and scheduled using a state-of-the art computerized system to reduce both vibration and noise, and the crushing plant is situated on the quarry floor. Both the crushing plant and its transfer points, key noise producers within the operation, are enclosed to contain the sound.
These measures, and a preventative maintenance program for all equipment, minimize the amount of noise generated by our operations.
For more information on how Walker Aggregates minimizes noise from its operations, please see our fact sheet: Minimizing Operations Noise.
What will happen to the existing Walker Brothers Quarries in Niagara Falls?
The provincial approval for our current quarry carries a requirement for progressive rehabilitation so that the quarry is left in a safe and environmentally sound condition when all of the useable rock is extracted. Beyond that, other after-uses such as agriculture, green space, recreation or some other type of rural or urban development can be contemplated subject to obtaining all of the necessary approvals. Walker will consult with quarry neighbours and other key stakeholders before any decision is made regarding a new after-use of the proposed site.
In keeping with our commitment to the environment, our objective is to leave the site ecologically better than it is now by implementing innovative rehabilitation and enhancement measures. Although the future use for the proposed quarry has not yet been decided, end-use options implemented at other fully extracted quarries include recreational parks, trails (such as Walker’s Ten Mile Creek), wetlands and other wildlife habitats, and regional botanical interests. Part of our own Vineland Quarries & Crushed Stone is now a fully functioning vineyard, providing grapes to winemakers in Niagara each year.
Are there future uses planned for the site beyond this quarry?
At this time our efforts are focused solely on securing a replacement quarry for our existing aggregate operations in Niagara Falls, on Thorold Townline Road. If approved, the new quarry will be in operation for decades. As part of the Aggregate Resources Act submission, a rehabilitation plan will be developed for the site to ensure that it is left in a safe and environmentally sound condition. Any decision about the after-use of the site will likely be made well into the future, and would involve a separate application complete with its own set of technical studies and requirements for government approvals. Public input will be sought in any decisions around the environment, the economy, the local community and the future land use realities.
In addition to final rehabilitation, we also engage in progressive rehabilitation. Progressive rehabilitation involves the staged treatment of disturbed areas during aggregate extraction. Benefits of this rehabilitation include:
- Minimizing the extent of any disturbances over time
- Satisfying community expectations and government requirements
- Minimizing areas of open disturbance
If you’re interested in learning more about rehabilitation of pits and quarries, visit GravelFacts.ca.
How can I stay informed and provide input?
You can fill out our online Feedback Form or go to our Contact Us page for additional contact information.
Stay informed by checking the website for updates, and Subscribe to our News & Updates to receive updates directly in your inbox.
Information about open houses and public meetings will be posted to our Public Events page.
What is the application and approval process for the proposed Upper’s Quarry?
Gaining approvals for a new quarry will not happen overnight. Approval for a new pit or quarry in Ontario typically takes several years. Numerous studies are conducted to ensure the location is suitable and that it will have no or minimal impact on nearby neighbours, the environment, air quality, water quantity and quality, and local traffic flow.
The proposed quarry must conform with dozens of regulations at the provincial, regional and municipal levels. A number of regulatory and environmental agencies are invited to provide comments, and will be requested to issue the necessary permits and approvals.
We will also listen to and address the questions and concerns of our neighbours and surrounding community. To facilitate this, we will hold public meetings and be available to meet personally with individuals in the community who will help us understand and integrate the interests, issues and ideas of community members into workable plans for the proposed quarry.
Why this location?
The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry has identified the Upper’s site as one with a good quality reserve of aggregates. This is based on the limestone available in the area which is suitable for a wide variety of construction needs.
Not all areas of the province are suitable locations for quarries. This site is ideal based on its proximity to major roadways to support efficient transportation. Having an aggregate source close to the market where it will be used is an important factor in reducing environmental impacts such as greenhouse gases and carbon emissions for truck travel. It also ensures that this vital resource is provided at a reasonable cost to taxpayers who indirectly support local infrastructure development.
Stone from our Walker Brothers Quarries has been used to help grow the Niagara Region into what it is today. Based on continued growth of the region, additional stone is needed. Walker Aggregates is proposing a new quarry to meet the demands for critical infrastructure, construction and community development projects in the coming years as Niagara continues to grow and prosper.