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Helen Purdy was often David in the fight against Goliath gravel companies

I was sorry to learn last week that a local environmental activist had passed away.

Helen Purdy, a retired school teacher and passionate activist who lived in Puslinch, died in November. She was 70.

I first met Helen not long after I started working at the Mercury some 16 years ago. I was terribly green — even more so about environmental concerns and environmental law. True to her training, Helen proved an excellent and patient teacher as she led me to the legislation and walked me through it.

Helen’s biggest concern was gravel, and there is plenty to be concerned about in Puslinch. Everyone wants to get their hands on that sweet, sweet limestone that lies just below the surface. Gravel is a multimillion-dollar industry but the process of extracting it destroys habitat, affects the water table, possibly damages the aquifer and leaves a barren landscape once they are done.

Helen didn’t want to see that happen. So she informed herself about water-taking applications by gravel companies in the area and followed them through the process. She’d write letters, speak to council and speak to others who shared her concerns…

[Read Joanne Shuttleworth’s full article here…]