Wilmot Council Approves Controversial Petersburg Sand Pit 4-1 - Grant Haven
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Wilmot Council Approves Controversial Petersburg Sand Pit 4-1

Wilmot Council Approves Controversial Petersburg Sand Pit 4-1

 Veronica Reiner

Wilmot council voted 4-1 to approve a controversial sand pit in Petersburg during a meeting on Monday, May 29.

In a recorded vote, Mayor Natasha Salonen, Ward One Councillor Stewart Cressman, Ward Three Councillor Harvir Sidhu, and Ward Four Councillor Steven Martin voted in favour of the zone change.

Ward Four Councillor Lillianne Dunstall declared a conflict of interest and refrained from voting, while Ward Two Councillor Kris Wilkinson opposed the zone change.

“While there’s a lot of things that are in the application, ultimately, the one thing that is missing more than anything is the support of the people, and support of the individuals that live there and have to deal with this every single day. And that weighs on me. It’s very clear that the residents do not want this in my conversations throughout the election campaign,” said Wilkinson, before opposing the zone change. “I stand with the people on this one.”

He called on both regional and provincial governments to give municipal governments better tools to address the needs of their constituents.

After the zone change was approved, several people shouted at council members, “You’re all a bunch of cowards,” and “We’ll remember.”

In June 2022, Mike Hodgkinson of the Petersburg Sand Company requested a zone change for 68 acres of land at 1856 Snyder’s Road East. It is currently zoned agricultural, and the request is for extractive industrial to allow for a gravel pit operation. The pit would be an above water table extraction operation, removing more than 20,000 tonnes per year. Sand, stone and gravel would be the primary materials to be extracted, and would include asphalt and recycling uses.

Hodgkinson was present at the meeting. He said that throughout the process, he had submitted more than a dozen technical studies and assessments examining dust, air quality, water quality, noise, traffic, agriculture impacts, archaeology, cultural heritage and more. “All of those studies were peer reviewed by staff and third party consultants,” said Hodgkinson. “They all concluded that this pit would have negligible impacts on the community.”

He added that he lives on the property, and that the pit is in his backyard. “I don’t want to live beside something that is going to negatively impact the air that I breathe or contaminate the water that I drink. I don’t want to be kept up all night by excessive noise or have trucks speeding past my house every hour. That’s why I’ve taken time to ensure that this will not happen.”

Dozens of residents have come forward to make their concerns known about the gravel pit, including air quality, noise, loss of farmland, water quality, plummeting property values, and road safety, including a conflict with school bus stops, and increased traffic.

“This new gravel pit is a literal money pit, but not for Petersburg, for Mr. Hodgkinson and Petersburg Sand Company. The town of Petersburg is not going to see any revenue from this endeavour but will have to deal with the increased traffic, road damage, accidents because of the trucks and noise because of the trucks,” wrote Endi Grujic in a letter in opposition to the pit.

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