Key Issues: Cultural heritage, noise, farmland, water


West MontroseIn 2008, Capital Paving submitted a zoning application to the Township of Woolwich, and a license application to MNRF, to locate a 40 hectare gravel pit in the community of West Montrose approximately 120 metres from the historic Covered Bridge.

Concurrently, a team of planners from the University of Waterloo’s Cultural Resources Centre were conducting research to determine if the area in and around West Montrose should be designated and protected as a Cultural Heritage Landscape under the provincial Planning Act.

The West Montrose Residents’ Association, operating as “BridgeKeepers”, raised concerns about the siting of a large industrial aggregate operation in such a tranquil setting, on prime agricultural lands, in the middle of an Old Order (horse and buggy) Mennonite community, and in close proximity to the Covered Bridge. The application received significant public exposure, and BridgeKeepers garnered widespread support in their opposition to the pit.

BridgeKeepers built public awareness through a web site, a professionally-produced video, brochure hand-outs, a Facebook page that at one time boasted close to 6,000 fans, ongoing media coverage, and events such as parades, public meetings, information sessions at the bridge, postcard campaigns, and community newsletters. They also retained experts to conduct peer reviews of the initial reports, and met and corresponded with experts and with politicians at all levels of government to state their case and seek support.

In early 2012, the Township of Woolwich designated the lands around West Montrose, including the proposed pit site, as a Cultural Heritage Landscape under the Ontario Planning Act and on the recommendation of the University of Waterloo’s Heritage Resources Centre.

In a press release issued on August 9th, 2013, Capital Paving stated that the company “decided to acknowledge the concerns of the local community of West Montrose and the covered bridge.” Their application was withdrawn.