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Bonnefield elaborates on Orangeville Banner article re former "Megaquarry" lands

The following is the text of a Letter to the Editor of the Orangville Banner, from Tom Eisenhauer, President & CEO of Bonnefield, dated July 31, 2017:

To the Editor:

I would like to elaborate on the article by Chris Halliday that appeared in the Orangeville Banner on July 28, 2017, entitled “Megaquarry land part of new aggregate application in Melanchthon”

The article correctly reports that 50 of the 150 acres subject to the expansion application by Strada Aggregates were purchased by Bonnefield from the former Megaquarry proponents. Bonnefield has not yet, however, sold the property to Strada.  Rather, Strada has a time-limited option to acquire the property.

My greater concern about the article is that it might leave readers with the impression that the potential sale of this property is at odds with Bonnefield’s goal of protecting farmland for farming, or that Bonnefield has not been fully transparent with the local community about the potential sale.

When Bonnefield acquired approximately 6,500 acres of the former “Megaquarry” lands in July 2013, we embarked on an extensive research and consultative process to determine which of those 6,500 acres were quality farmland of interest to the local farmers, and which portions should be targeted for either rehabilitation or sale. 

As part of this effort Bonnefield met with officials from Melancthon and Mulmur, leaders of community groups who opposed the Megaquarry, we made public presentations to Melancthon Town Council and at least three presentations to public meetings held in neighbouring communities.  In these meetings and presentations, Bonnefield was clear that the 50-acre parcel in question was of limited use as a farm and would likely be sold given that it was surrounded on three sides by existing Strada Aggregates operations and lands. We received broad consensus from those with whom we met on this point and no one proposed a contrary view.

Indeed, Bonnefield sought expressions of interest from over 25 farm operators in our efforts to lease the land to local farmers. Not a single respondent indicated any interest in farming this 50-acre parcel.

Bonnefield has worked hard to develop an open and transparent relationship with the communities surrounding the former Megaquarry site.  In the four years since we acquired the Megaquarry properties, Bonnefield has returned 24 mostly vacant houses to local residents who now occupy them; renovated, sold or leased over 30 farm buildings to local farm operators; sold surplus land parcels to local residents; invested heavily to improve environmental, water and farming infrastructure on the properties; supported the planting of trees for a wind break along Highway 124; supported numerous local charities as well as a hospice and Headwaters Hospital; and we remain a proud supporter of NDACT and Food & Water First.

We have worked hard to develop an open and transparent relationship with our neighbours in Dufferin County and we remain true to our central mission of protecting farming for farmland. I hope that readers of the Orangeville Banner will not be left with an impression to the contrary.

Respectfully,

Tom Eisenhauer
President & CEO
Bonnefield Financial Inc