PowerPoint version of more visual documentation of Alvas

People Count
Northumberland Rock
Georgeville, Nova
~ The Story ~
 Background
 Fire
In The Hole
 The Environmental Assessment
 What Went Wrong
 Making It Right
Alva Construction Ltd. owns and operates the
Northumberland Rock Quarry in Georgeville, Nova
Alva Construction Ltd. indicated:
 the quarry has produced 650,000 tonnes of
aggregate over the last 15 years, from September 6,
1996 to November 09, 2011. This equals approx.
43,333 tonnes per year for the past 15 years.
 the total disturbed area over the last 15 years has
been 3.5 ha, approximately 0.23 ha / year.
Industrial Approval 2011
The existing quarry is operating under an Industrial
Approval issued on April 11, 2011. This permits Alva to
produce aggregate from within a defined 4 ha area, of
which 3.5 hectares have already been exhausted over
the past 15 years, leaving .5 hectares of “productive
aggregate”. More on this later!
Surrounding communities and residents of the
Georgeville area didn’t express concern in 2011 to this
Industrial Approval for three reasons;
Industrial Approval 2011
Most residents weren’t aware of the 2011 industrial
approval. The Industrial Approval process also does not
include a public input component. It only requires Public
Notice before an approval is issued.
Misleading Information: The Public Notice for the 2011
Industrial Approval stated that “hours of operation” would
“stay the same”. Since a large sign at the entrance to the
quarry used the term “hours of operation”, residents believed
that these were the same “hours of operation” mentioned in
the Public Notice. In fact, the “hours of operation” in the
Public Notice referred to a 24 hour a day/7 day a week
schedule of the previous industrial approval.
Other residents weren’t overly concerned about the 2011
Industrial Approval because of the limitation of space. Only
0.5 hectares of land was left to produce aggregate
over a 10 year period.
Fire In The Hole
Remember the .5 hectares of remaining quarry
to mine…
To increase the size and production levels for
the quarry, Alva submitted an Environmental
Assessment application in November 2011.
Preparation work (field studies etc.) started
more than 1.5 years earlier.
On November 09, 2011 Alva Construction placed
the following ad in the Antigonish newspaper,
The Casket,
Fire In The Hole
Fire In The Hole
For the 13 communities and residents
surrounding the quarry site in Georgeville, NS
this caused little initial concern
We read the EA Registration Documents
(=application), all 222 pages. Instead of
“business as usual” Alva applied for:
An increase in production from 43,300 tonnes
per year to 450,000 tonnes per year. The
implications were staggering:
Fire In The Hole
Past 15 Years
Anticipated with EA
Registration in 2011
and approved by EA
Branch in 2012
Production level
43,300 tonnes
450,000 tonnes
28 trips per day
300 trips per day
Hours/Days of
Mo–Thu: 7:00 - 7:00
Fridays: 7.00 - 3.00
(as posted)
110 days per year
24 hours per day, 300+
days per year
300% increase
Size of Operation
4.0 hectares
54 hectares
1300% increase
Environmental Assessment
Environmental Assessment (EA) is a planning and
decision-making tool used to provide sustainable
development by protecting and conserving the
It is an information gathering process used to
identify and assess the potential environmental effects
of undertakings prior to their development.
It is also a process that provides the public with an
opportunity to contribute to the decision making
Quote from Nova Scotia Environment – Official Government Website:
Environmental Assessment
The Minister’s decision, which marks the end of the EA
process, has to follow EA Regulations (made under sect. 49
of the Env. Act).
According to the EA regulations a proponent must submit
(among other information) the following to the EA Branch:
 Details of the nature and sensitivity of the area surrounding
the proposed undertaking
 All steps taken by the proponent to identify the concerns of
the public and aboriginal people about adverse effects or the
environmental effects of the proposed undertaking
 A list of all concerns expressed by the public about the
adverse effects or the environmental effects of the proposed
 All steps taken or proposed to be taken by the proponent to
address concerns of the public (...)
Environmental Assessment
The Process
The information gathering phase as preparation for
the EA Registration (application) is time and resource
It is in place to collect facts of the situation/location of
the proposed project and to identify and address
potential concerns/issues.
The EA Branch as well as many other levels of
government (DOE, DOT, DNR, Tourism etc.) are
involved during this preparation process.
Public Involvement at this stage is an important
source to identify potential issues
YET, the Public is excluded from this phase.*
Quote from Proponents Guide to Environment Assessment, provided by NSE:
“It is up to the proponent to decide to involve the public…”
Environmental Assessment
A Final Report marks the end of the information
gathering process. This Final Report is the
application document for the EA.
The Final Report must be registered at the EA
Branch in order to start the EA process:
Under provincial legislation, the EA process must be
completed over a 50-day period after registration
A 30 days period for Public Comments starts with the
registration of the Final Report
A decision of the Minister of the Environment marks the
end of the 50 day period
Environmental Assessment
What We know
Alva Construction had worked on the application for
more than a year with government authorities before
registering their proposal on November 09, 2011.
The public became aware of the application in the local
newspaper after the Registration. Whereas Alva had
over a year to work with government officials to prepare
their application, the public had only 30 days to review
and comment on a 222 page report, from November 9th
until December 9th 2011.
The Minister’s Decision had to be made by January 9th
2012 – just after the Christmas Holidays.
Environmental Assessment
Ministerial Approval
Despite over 100 letters to the minister opposing
the application, a letter from our MLA, two town
hall meetings of nearly 200 people, discussions
with government officials, legal and
environmental opinions to inform our responses,
a community health impact study, and countless
hours trying to correct incorrect information...
An approval was issued on January 9th 2012, by
the Minister of Environment, the Honourable
Sterling Belliveau.
Environmental Assessment
Terms and Conditions
The approval for the quarry extension project was
subject to several Terms and Conditions, to mitigate
adverse effects of the quarry extension project.
Comparing these Terms & Conditions with terms &
conditions of previously approved quarries, more than
95% of the terms and conditions were identical.
Slightly different terms and conditions; a community
liaison committee and transportation plan, which were
tailored for the Northumberland Rock Quarry, are
without regulatory enforcement.
None of the Terms and Conditions will be able to
effectively mitigate the adverse affects identified by
concerned residents during the public review.
Environmental Assessment
Terms and Conditions
Clause 11.1 of the Terms and Conditions was written to
mitigate adverse effects of the increased size and higher
production level of Alva quarry in Georgeville. It states:
“The Approval Holder shall operate the quarry in a
manner such that the active area does not exceed
ten hectares (10 ha) at any time (…).”
This clause really does not limit the production of the
quarry. As an example:
Another Rock Quarry in NS proposed a production
level for its own operation of 2 million tonnes/year
and 40,000 tonnes/week. For their production, which
would be 4.5 times larger than the Alva, their
footprint would be 4 ha per year.
Environmental Assessment
Terms and Conditions
Clause 8.1 of the Terms and Conditions was written to
mitigate adverse effects for an adjacent residential land
development, which was approved with the help of the
Department of Environment during the information
gathering process for the EA. It was supposed to provide
lots in this subdivision with a 800 m setback for blasting.
After asking for clarification, the EA Branch stated that
this clause only applies for existing structures (time of IA
approval) – not for future buildings. Since this
subdivision was only approved a few months ago, no
homes have been built yet. Therefore this clause 100%
What Went Wrong
Public Engagement
Alva stated in the EA Registration documents that public engagement took
place in the preliminary planning stage.
 The Proponent and their consultant met with NSE on February 4, 2011
to discuss (…). Landowners adjacent to the quarry were also
contacted (…) for the purpose of issues identifications.”
 “In the fall of 2010, Project Information Bulletins (Appendix C)
were distributed to landowners within approx. 1.0 km of the
quarry. The purpose of the bulletin was to advice local residents and
businesses close to the existing quarry and proposed Project site (i.e.
those who are potentially most affected) and provide them with the
opportunity to comment on the proposed undertaking.”
The subsequent EA application indicated under the topic Stakeholder
comments and steps taken to address issues:
“To date, no comments have been received from stakeholders as a result of the
Project Information Bulletin…”
Stakeholders adjacent to the quarry insist they were not
contacted by the proponent. No documentation has been provided
to verify otherwise.
What Went Wrong
Public Consultation
Although the EA application was biased by
misleading public notification, this information was never
updated, corrected, or taken into consideration in the
final decision.
The application was approved without meaningful
public consultation by the proponent or DOE and
under the banner of “business as usual”, an message
completely contradicted by the EA application.
The current process is biased to the proponent, and
does not allow the public the same opportunity to
provide informed comment on issues arising from the
application, issues that directly affect their lives.
What Went Wrong
Incorrect Information
The EA Branch in Halifax used the following description as official
Project Information to other departments reviewing the application
and as Public Notification:
“Proposed quarry activities (i.e. production levels, blasting
and truck traffic) will be consistent with current quarry
This “business as usual” message from government was consistent
throughout the process, as indicated in a March 2012 response from
DOE that the “proponent did not anticipate an increase in
production levels with the EA Registration”.**
*Quote from the official EA Branch website for Project Description and Public Notice
**Quote from email response from DOE staff, answering the question if the EA approval would allow Alva to increase
production levels compared to current operations: “Alva does not anticipate any change to the way in which they
have operated over the last ten years.”
What Went Wrong
Incorrect information
The EA Branch was notified of incorrect information
many times by numerous members of the public, but
they did not acknowledge or distribute this
corrected information to other government
departments and to the public of the anticipated
increase in size and production levels in their EA
Other government departments involved in the review
and approval process accepted and disbursed this
incorrect information.
What Went Wrong
Incorrect Information
The proponent provided incorrect information, leading to a
decision by the Minister of Environment that was ill-informed,
ill-advised and did not reflect the best interests of the
communities most affect by this change.
Residents of Georgeville organized a fire hall meeting during
the 30 day public comment period to inform the public about
the biased process and provide them with an analysis of the
application and implications to the communities and residents
of the area.
Members of the Public then informed the EA Branch and
other government authorities about their concerns and the
incorrect and misleading information in the application
documents. Their letters asked for more time to respond to
the application due to its inaccuracies and misrepresentations.
What Went Wrong
DOE in Antigonish officially commented on a draft version of the
application documents as follows:
“We looked at the proposed draft and we do not have any major
DOE advised other government departments involved in the
application process with the following email on November 9th, 2011
to inform them about the proposed project :
“This is to advise that on November 9, 2011 Alva Construction
Limited registered a Northumberland Rock Quarry Extension Project
for environmental assessment ...
Proposed quarry activities (i.e. production levels, blasting and truck
traffic) will be consistent with current quarry operations.”
NS Economical and Rural Development and Tourism has raised
concerns in regards to additional truck traffic. They officially
received the following response from the EA Branch:
“No additional truck traffic is anticipated with the expansion of the quarry”.
What Went Wrong
Outdated Maps
The proponent used outdated maps and incorrect
area information in the application documents. The
information indicated:
 Other pits/quarries existed near Alva’s quarry.
 Very low residential land use around the quarry with
no oceanfront / ocean view subdivisions.
This drew an incorrect picture of the surrounding
activities and residential developments that would be
adversely affected by the increase in activity.
What Went Wrong
Outdated Maps
There are no active pit / quarries located near the
Northumberland quarry. Pits / quarries as presented in
the EA Registration documents simply don’t exist
There are more than 50 recently developed
waterfront and water view properties, which are
located within ~ 1 km of the quarry. None of these were
One of the nearby subdivisions is incorrectly shown
in the application document as a gravel pit.
The Department of Environment was involved in the
approval of all newly developed lots around the quarry.
Outdated maps and an incorrect description of the
neighboring land uses was never corrected on the
applicant proposal, despite public input to correct the
What Went Wrong
Socio Economic Aspects
The EA application stated:
“ Due to the existing industrial activity in the vicinity of the Project
area (i.e., the Northumberland Rock Quarry and adjacent
quarries) and the distance of the proposed Project from
residences, impacts on existing and future adjacent land uses
are not expected.``
A neighbouring residential land development stands in
obvious conflict with the quarry extension. Despite DOE
staff processing both projects, by the same people, at
the same time, and meeting with both proponents for
site visits the essential issue of the potential for
conflicting land use was not discussed or addressed in
the EA approval.
A Community Health Impact Assessment was conducted
as part of the Public Input Process. It highlighted public
road safety, highway deterioration, and affects on
tourism and residential development.
Making It Right
People need to count! The EA process needs to
address and solve community concerns and resolve
conflicts, not fuel them.
The solution was/is obvious. The proponent stated in
writing, at public hearings, and in correspondence that
they had no intension of increasing production levels. If
that is truly the case, then put it in writing.
Concerned community members and neighbours
expressed they could live with an extended quarry area
as long as production levels and truck traffic did not
increase. The conflict could have been/can still easily be
resolved by placing the “business as usual” indicators in
the Terms and Conditions. Period.
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