TORONTO — A controversial mega-quarry, proposed by Highland Companies — a group of private investors based in Canada and the U.S. — will not be built.
Chef Michael Stadtländer’s grassroots campaign to quash the quarry has helped tip the scales in the fight.
“I had to go for a walk to let it sink in,” said Stadtländer, who raised money to fight the quarry through two events — Foodstock and Soupstock. “For me, it was crazy to dig into this water table and sacrifice the farm land so close to Toronto. I have to congratulate Highland Companies for making their decision.”
A statement from John Scherer of Highland Companies reads: “While we believe the quarry would have brought significant economic benefit to Melancthon Township and [would have] served Ontario’s well-documented need for aggregate. We acknowledge the application does not have sufficient support from the community and government to justify proceeding with the approval process.”
“It’s absolutely a fantastic day and speaks to the power of the people, and the tenacity of the local community,” said Dr. Faisal Moola, director general, The David Suzuki foundation. “The fact that the foundation and the Canadian Chefs Congress organized Soupstock, which attracted 40,000 people, gave Highland Companies 40,000 new reasons not to build the quarry. They couldn’t stand the heat and the overwhelming local opposition, which soon grew to provincial opposition,” said Moola, before adding that more needs to be done to cement a victory. “The Ontario government needs to work with local communities to protect the land as farm land in perpetuity,” he said. “The current rules and regulations need to be overhauled to protect nature and farmland from aggregate development.”
Meanwhile, Highland’s president, John Lowndes has resigned his position.
As for another Foodstock-inspired event? “We can make it into a celebration of locally grown food,” said Stadtländer. “Foodstock and Soupstock brought us all together — the chefs and the public, and the farmers. It’s a bond we should all celebrate.”