Limerick met with Land’escapes Sept. 6 regarding acreage rezoning

At their meeting on Sept. 21, Limerick Township council heard from clerk and treasurer Victoria Tisdale regarding her clerk’s report to council. This report covered a variety of issues including; a Sept. 6 planning meeting the township had with Land’escapes about rezoning their acreage, the AMO conference the township attended, the upcoming election, the Storm Cleanup Appreciation Summer barbecue they had, expected Municipal Disaster Relief Assistance funding to cover the cost of the derecho damage from the May 21 storm and upcoming tax sales in the township.

Mayor Carl Stefanski introduced the clerk’s report at the Sept. 21 meeting and invited Tisdale to speak about it. She told council that at the township planning meeting on Sept. 6, the township had their first meeting regarding Land’escapes rezoning application; from Marginal Agricultural (MA) and Environmental Protection (EP) zone to site specific Marginal Agricultural (MA-X) zone, to permit and revise the definition of a camping establishment and restrict non-complementary uses within the MA zone.

“Transition Metals had concerns about their mineral rights versus surface rights and permissions to access lands for exploration. The appropriate parties will be meeting again in the near future to hopefully come to an agreement that is acceptable to all. Following this, we will schedule another planning meeting to discuss this and begin the next steps in the process. There has been some concern among residents that a mine is starting up, but that is simply not the case at this time,” she says.

Scott McLean, president and CEO of Transition Metals wrote a letter to Tisdale on Aug. 30 (in the Sept. 6 planning meeting agenda) outlining their concerns, emphasizing that his company has 68 mining claims totalling 1,679 hectares in Limerick, the majority of which fall within the proposed rezoning area.

“Since the mining rights were granted, there has been approximately $375,000 of exploration work completed on the claims. The geology underlying the township has been designated a high mineral potential area by the Ontario Geological Survey with potential to host strategic reserves of nickel and copper. Both of these metals have been identified as key materials required to support federal initiatives toward the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions,” he said in his letter.

McLean went on to say that in accordance with the Ontario Mining Act, Transition Metals has been granted the right to access and explore the claims for the purpose of identifying economic mineral resources. This was confirmed by an Aug. 29 letter to Tisdale from regional land use geologist Peter LeBaron, with the Southern Ontario Geological Survey, Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry (in the Sept. 6 planning meeting agenda). McLean reiterated that it was Transition Metals’ intention to maintain the claims and their rights to explore and access the property.

McLean reiterated to The Bancroft Times on Sept. 23 that they are in receipt of Land’escapes rezoning proposal, they participated in the Sept. 6 meeting and his company holds mining rights in the township.

“We are working within the process to find a solution that satisfies all stakeholders including the surface and mineral rights holders,” he says.

Ben Samaan, the owner of Land’escapes, confirms there have been concerns raised by Transition Metals with respect to its mining claims that overlap the

Land’escapes property, when he spoke with The Bancroft Times on Sept. 22.

“They feel the rezoning doesn’t properly address their rights. This seems to be a misunderstanding and we’re hoping to clear it up soon. We are working on setting up a meeting with the township, the County and Transition Metals shortly.

Samaan says that this mining claim seems to have renewed the rumour that Land’escapes supports mining.

“I cannot state this strongly enough. Land’escapes if fully opposed to any mining in the area,” he says.

Aside from the Land’escapes rezoning meeting, Tisdale also spoke of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario conference the township attended in August.

“There were two delegations that the township was granted. One was for the Attorney General [the Honourable Doug Downey], to discuss joint and several liability and the second was the Solicitor General [the Honourable Michael Kerzner] to discuss fire services and request financial assistance for equipment repair and training,” she says.

The upcoming municipal election was also discussed by Tisdale, who said that Elections Nomination Day had been on Aug. 19, and that all the councillors had been acclaimed. There are two current members of council running for mayor for the next term; Mayor Carl Stefanski and Councillor Kim Carson. Tisdale reminded everyone that early voting opens up on Oct. 17, with the election being held on Oct. 24.

Council also decided to have a Zoom meeting on Oct. 13 at 12:30 pm in lieu of their regular council meeting later in the month (which was not doable due to the election), to tie up any loose ends before the election and the new council is inaugurated.

The MDRA funding reporting deadline was on Sept.19, and Tisdale said that Limerick submitted a couple of hundred pages of material; pictures, invoices, an excel sheet. She said that with the future cost of cleanup, the grand total ended up being $425,000, of which the province will cover 97 per cent.

“So that’s a lot better than having to pay the full amount. But it’s a lot better, the roads are all cleaned up and some roads are in better condition than they were. We fixed them right up. So that’s where we ended there. That’s all gone through. I will keep everybody posted when I hear back,” she says.

Tisdale recounted how council had held a Storm Cleanup Appreciation barbecue on Aug. 20 to thank everyone who had helped clean up the mess resulting from the May 21 derecho.

“Overall, it was a success and we had a lot of positive feedback from the residents and companies who attended,” she says.

Tax sales from last year have reached their deadline and are being advertised in the newspaper and on the municipal website, according to Tisdale.

“The tender opening for that is Oct. 12 at 3 p.m. and there are four properties up. I think the lowest one is $5,200 and the highest one is around $11,000, minimum bid. But we’ve had lots of interest. Lots of people have been inquiring about them,” she says. “They expect them all to go.

Michael Riley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Bancroft Times