Press Coverage

Concerned Residents Adjacent To Quarry Report Lead In Well Water And Health Issues, October 13, 2022.

Lead in the soil and water wells at resident homes on Bonnie Lake Road was one of the concerns raised by homeowners in the Bracebridge Council meeting on October 12, 2022.

Residents that attended the meeting to express concerns about the Fowler Quarry expansion application indicated worry about lead in their drinking water and a link to hearing issues.

Bonnie Lake Road resident, Larry Holditch said wells will be affected with the expansion. He said, “Because of blasting, my 400 foot well ran dry twice and mineral levels are off the charts, with lead at 7800 times the recommended level. I’m deaf in one ear for no apparent reason… One apparent reason is the lead.” He also indicated that he has to keep his windows closed because of the noise.

Holditch, who said he uses reverse osmosis on his well water and has to change his filters twice a year, has contacted the Ministry of Environment about concerns and was told he’s on his own because it’s a private well. He suggested that Council pause on the Fowler application, saying, “reject or defer with studies regarding how it impacts our lives.”

Other concerns by Holditch include “global climate change, environmental issues, wildlife, watershed and contamination of Sage Creek into the river.”

Councillor Barb McMurray asked Holditch, “Does reverse osmosis take the lead out of the water?”

Holditch replied, “Yes. Not a hundred percent.”

Bonnie Lake Road resident, Andy Pratt, expressed concern about the impact of Fowler trucks using the road as a haul road, including the danger, with three truck accidents near his house, and indicated, “Canada Post won’t run on that road because of safety issues.” He added, “My house smells like burnt diesel, and I have a friend that is deaf in one ear as well… There is oil up and down the lanes.”

Resident Leslie Newman, who also lives on Bonnie Lake Road expressed concerns about the timing of the traffic studies. She said, “The traffic study was done at the height of the pandemic when traffic was slow.” She also indicated concern about residential wells, and asked, “What will happen when water is no longer plausible or run dry? The property values will be lower. Will Fowler or the Town cover the loss of costs?”

Newman added, “24 hours, 7 days a week we are no longer able to enjoy our property.”

Land Use Planner, Brian Zeeman indicated, “The site was already designated as mineral aggregate,” and that the Fowler operation doesn’t use lead. He added that washing aggregate is through a “closed loop system. No chemicals used.”

Bracebridge resident, Brian Tucci, said he worked with the District of Muskoka for 31 years, including in environment, design, water sewer and roads, and expressed concern about Bonnie Lake Road being used for hauling and the impact being “at the expense of residents.” He inquired, “Extraction at the depth that exceeds dug wells…residents with lead… Can anyone tell me the contaminants aren’t a result of the Quarry?” He added, “Once ground water is contaminated it’s too late.”

Councillor, Andrew Struthers, indicated, “New things are coming up and it deserves answers and considerations, such as the ground in the area containing lead. Fowler is saying it’s not in the Quarry… What happens if it’s mined up…in ponds… Where does that go…?” He recommended a deferral, to allow for more information to be gathered and discussions held, which was denied in the vote by Council.

Director of Planning and Development, Cheryl Kelley, replied, “We don’t govern water. We don’t govern wells. We don’t have regulation power to do anything about it, but we can look at it.

Council agreed that Town staff will summarize public comments regarding the Fowler Childs Pit zoning application and submit them to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, and will request Fowler Construction to create a Community Liaison Group regarding further discussion of the Quarry on Bonnie Lake Road.


BRACEBRIDGE — Despite protests outside, council here last night approved a mega quarry for the east side of town, which would see trucking 24/7.

Demonstrators opposed to the Fowlers construction project on Bonnie Lake Road gathered at 6 p.m., waving signs under watch of police, at the Bracebridge municipal office as they called on councillors to defer their decision to the next council.

Laura Pratt, whose family owns the Bracebridge Golf Course at the intersection with Hwy. 117 where she says 500 trucks a day could possibly be turning, cited a number of concerns including environmental and safety.

The site is beside the north branch of the Muskoka River and Sage Creek. Sage Lake is in Lake of Bays Township and the creek flows 10 kms east to west, collecting water from more than two thousand hectares of wetlands and small lakes along the way, the protest group says on its website.

“Muskoka residents haven’t been adequately consulted on this rezoning proposal. How could residents attend a statutory public meeting Dec. 2, 2020 about the rezoning application during the COVID-19 lockdown? We should all be concerned.”

Residents last night also noted inconvenience to neighbouring property owners.

But after Bracebridge’s planning committee approved the project last week, council’s approval of those minutes were a formality that took less than 15 minutes to rubber stamp, complained opponents on Facebook.

The battle could still be appealed to the Ministry of Natural Resources, whose minister is former mayor of Bracebridge Graydon Smith the head of council until this spring.
Demonstration spokesperson Laura Pratt talks about their concerns.
Neighbouring residents and those with environmental concerns gathered outside the Bracebridge municipal office Wednesday night to demonstrate against the proposal.
The quarry approved by Bracebridge council last night would be east off Hwy. 117 on Bonnie Lake Road.
Michael Appleby was among those asking for a deferment of the decision to a new council. He said it is similar to a court battle currently underway with council on the other side of town on Lake Muskoka regarding a mega school plan there.
Police were on hand after demonstration organizer Laura Pratt said the town told them no election campaigning could be held on public property.

Rally At Bracebridge Town Council Tonight On Fowler Mega Quarry Proposal, October 12, 2022

The Muskoka Environmental Alliance (MEA), headed by local property owner Laura Pratt, has called on local residents to attend a protest rally preceding the Town Council meeting at 6:00PM on Wednesday October 12, 2022 at the Town Council Chambers – 1000 Taylor Road, Bracebridge.

The protest will be in opposition to Fowler Construction Company’s push for a new Zoning By-law for Childs Pit. Local residents have formed the MEA to fight the rezoning proposal which will double the allowed Quarry size to 900 acres.

Ms. Pratt said, “this Mega Quarry zoning application will alter the Muskoka environment for decades to come. It’s only days before a municipal election, and this Council knows it needs to step back and address the disastrous environmental consequences of this proposal. Muskoka residents have not been properly consulted.” She added, “This is now a major municipal election issue, pitting Mega Quarry opponent Michael Opara running against Mega Quarry advocate, appointed Mayor Rick Maloney, for Mayor of Bracebridge.”

The residents are concerned about the environmental impact of the increased Mega Quarry output on the neighboring community and the urban centre.  This impact includes:

  • Dramatic increase in large truck traffic to 600 truck trips a day on local Town roads including the Bonnie Lake Road and Highway 117,
  • 24 hours per operation including blasting in a residential neighborhood,
  • Damage to wildlife, 40 acres of wetlands, water wells and Town’s air and water, diesel soot, carcinogenic silica dust, and explosive residue,
  • Potential contamination of up to 9.2 m liters of water extracted daily from the Muskoka River

The Muskoka Environmental Alliance acknowledges that Mr. Opara has stated , “We need a Mayor who is willing to stand up for our beautiful Muskoka environment, and not beholden to corporate, profit-driven interests, especially since Fowler Construction is controlled by a South Ontario company.”

The Public Speaks Out About The Fowler Quarry Expansion
September 6, 2022

The public had a chance to speak out about the Fowler Quarry Expansion at the Bracebridge Council meeting on August 31, 2022.

Bracebridge resident, Laura Pratt, said, “A mega quarry requires more public engagement, regarding blasting and the environment. Were first nations contacted?” She added, “2 million tonnes of aggregate is 10 times the volume increase… and 24 hours a day, 7 days a week of operations… Families travel during flying rocks during blasting. You need expert opinions on blasting.” She suggested the pit entrance be relocated.

Another resident of the town, Michael Opara said “580 acres of trees will be removed, 40 acres of wetland destroyed, 600 truck movements per day, and trips through town, suet dust and silica dust that will permeate the town…” He added, “The official plan should include protection of the Town and natural attributes… Protect the environmental features, including water and wildlife habitation.”

According to Opara, there are sixty-two bird species on the land to be developed, including two that are endangered species, along with snakes and turtles.

Resident of the haul route Bonnie Lake Road, Gary Lachance said, “Young families – babies are on the road – with people walking.” He measured 8” grooves and 2-3” cracks currently in the road.

Mario Nicolette expressed concerns about the proposed setbacks and the blasting potentially “affecting the structure and integrity of our home and the home across from us.”

Nicolette’s wife, Ellen, added, “We’re not just a number of a study.”

‘I’m done with it’: Bracebridge residents angered over Fowler rezoning application
September 1, 2022–i-m-done-with-it-bracebridge-residents-angered-over-fowler-rezoning-application/

Nancy Pratt didn’t mince words about a proposed quarry expansion on Bonnie Lake Road in Bracebridge. 

An application to rezone the Childs Pit/Quarry is causing concern for area residents who believe already difficult living conditions caused by the quarry will worsen with the application’s approval.

Nancy Pratt, owner of Bracebridge Golf Club at the corner of Bonnie Lake Road and Highway 117, has lived in the area for 55 years. She says she has been “subjected to the filthy air, noise and unsightly endless huge truck traffic for decades,” stating the proposal is “unconscionable, and at 82 years of age, I’m done with it.”

Her statement was one of several voices heard by Bracebridge council that is sending the rezoning application of what is being called a ‘mega quarry’ by residents back to staff. Furthermore, approval might not come without a caveat asking the District of Muskoka to take action to deal with public concerns on the District-owned road.

Fowler Construction Gives Response To Concerns On Quarry Extension
September 1, 2022

Muskoka Environmental Alliance Press Release: Bracebridge Council Voting on New Mega-Quarry Proposal
August 31, 2022

“Our community thrives on clean air, water and a mostly quiet environment that is inconsistent with the imposition of a major extraction facility producing 2 million tonnes of aggregate per year”, said Ms Laura Pratt

Bracebridge Mayor Concerned About Situation With Pit Expansion
August 26, 2022

Maloney added that public concerns included safety, noise and the degradation of the road used by the trucks. He said, “I would expect 10 to 20 people in the audience today, if we’re talking about Bonnie Lake Road as a road itself, sharing their stories about challenges they’ve had. I travel the road. I know the road. The road is in rough shape It’s deteriorating. It’s not safe. There’s not wide shoulders, not speed reduction areas. There’s nothing to suggest there’s any consideration of any type of Jake Brakes or anything like that, that cause disturbances in the neighborhood.”

Fowler plans to add 400 acres to Bonnie Lake quarry – South Muskoka Doppler
August 24, 2022