Cottagers and locals unite against Skeleton Lake quarry

Skeleton Lake Photo by Flick999/Wikimedia Commons

A proposal to open a medium-sized quarry near Muskoka’s Skeleton Lake has caused loads of backlash from local residents and cottagers.

According to The Globe and Mail, hundreds have voiced their concerns about the new quarry’s impact on the region and have started a petition to put a stop to it. Many are worried about the environmental impact the quarry will have on the surrounding lakes and about the impact of an increase in traffic — one study estimated the average number of truck trips on the road to the query could rise to seven per hour.

“We are a tourist area and this scenic corridor would be obliterated with heavy traffic, noise, dust and exhaust fumes. The hundreds of dump trucks hauling aggregate could have serious effects on the physical and mental health of people living nearby,” Doris Villemaire, a local environmental columnist, said in a letter to editor published on Muskokaregion.com.

While there is ample concern about the quarry preventing residents and cottager from enjoying their lakefront property, there is also a lot of concern that the quarry would negatively change Skeleton Lake’s unique ecology.

The lake was formed out of an ancient meteor crater and it is one of the clearest lakes in the region. There is rich flora and fauna life in and around the lake and it also feeds into two other popular lakes: Rousseau and Muskoka.

The quarry, which would sit just 1.7 km north of the lake, is anticipated to discharge phosphorus into nearby waterways. While this would not make Skeleton Lake toxic, it would dramatically effect the chemical makeup of the lake and have an impact on its ecology.

Currently, the townships of Skeleton Lake and Huntsville have both voted against the plan. However, investor Frank Lippa, who has proposed the quarry, is appealing these decisions to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB).

Those opposing the quarry hope that preserving this unique hydro-geology will be enough of a reason for the OMB to side with them and reject the proposal. They’ll also be arguing that the quarry would prevent locals and cottagers from taking full advantage of their lakeside property.

A hearing is unlikely to happen until spring of next year. Even if the project is approved, Mr. Lippa will still have to get a license from Ontario’s ministry of natural resources and forestry.

The townships, along with local cottage organizations, will not be quieting down in the meantime. According to the Globe and Mail, they are cautiously optimistic that they’ll be able to prevent the proposal from going forward.

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