Time for Action (ARA Review)
I helped stop the mega-quarry.
From the moment I read about the aggregate licence application in March 2011, I worked to stop the proposal – 40 to 50 hours per week. I knew without a shadow of a doubt that the mega-quarry proposal was a flawed idea.
The reasons were simple and obvious:
an entire plateau of prime, working farmland would be jeopardized
four watersheds/five rivers would be at risk
a mistake would be irreversible
As I investigated the application my conviction became stronger. I learned:
that the rivers flow through a huge area – south to Lake Erie, west to Lake Huron and north/east to the Georgian Bay
that the Melancthon area provides fresh water for one million Ontarians
that Melancthon farmland is actually Shelburne farmland – farmland that I grew up respecting as worthy competition to Alliston potatoes. It is significant that Alliston’s potato industry has waned under the sprawl of residences and Honda.
My path was clear. I worked together with thousands of other people – people who paid attention, talked up the issue, donated, volunteered, wrote letters, organized amazing events, and did whatever was necessary to garner the spotlight – to startle the proponent into backing down. The application was withdrawn in November, 2012.
However, I am not optimistic that the proponent has seen the proverbial “error of their ways”. I know that the potential for immediate money is hard to resist. Yet, I also know that today’s generation owes it to future generations not to carelessly ruin sources of food and water. It is imperative that we balance today’s demand for aggregate against the future needs of our descendents.
So it is time to get back to work. The government is no longer prorogued. Ontario has a new Premier. It is business-as-usual for the Government of Ontario. Now it is time to complete the review of the Aggregate Resources Act – as promised by the Premier in September 2011; as announced by the Minister of Natural Resources in March 2012; and as committed to by so many people including Mr. David Orazietti, Liberal MPP from Sault Ste. Marie and Chair of the Standing Committee on General Government during the initial ARA Review (now the new Minister of Natural Resources) as well as all of the MPPs who participated on the Standing Committee on General Government, and all the presenters at the five hearing locations (Queen’s Park, Orangeville, Kitchener-Waterloo, Ottawa, Sudbury). A lot of time, money and effort went into the hearings to-date with much knowledge shared and gleaned. It is now time for action.
It is time to prioritize fresh food and clean water before rock. It is time to stop developing aggregate resources at the expense of all else.
It is time for our Representatives to do their best by Ontarians, this generation and next, and complete the Aggregate Resources Act Review.
MPPs that Participated in the Aggregate Resources Review (Pre-Prorogation)
Mr. David Orazietti (Sault Ste. Marie L) – Chair of the Standing Committee on General Government during the ARA Review and new Minister of Natural Resources
Mr. Ted Arnott (Wellington-Halton Hills PC)
Mr. Lorenzo Berardinetti (Scarborough South West L)
Ms. Sarah Campbell (Kenora-Rainy River ND)
Mr. Mike Colle (Eglinton-Lawrence L)
Mr. Michael Coteau (Don Valley East L)
Mr. Grant Crack (Glengarry-Prescott-Russell L)
Mr. Vic Dhillon (Brampton West L)
Mr. Joe Dickson (Ajax-Pickering L)
Mr. Kevin Daniel Flynn (Oakville L)
Mr. Victor Fedeli (Nipissing PC)
Mr. Michael Harris (Kitchener-Conestoga PC)
Ms. Sylvia Jones (Dufferin-Caledon PC)
Mr. Rob Leone (Cambridge PC)
Mrs. Amrit Mangat (Mississauga-Brampton South L)
Mr. Michael Mantha (Algoma-Manitoulin ND)
Mr. Rosario Marchese (Trinity-Spadina ND)
Mr. Paul Miller (Hamilton East-Stoney Creek ND)
Mr. John O’Toole (Durham PC)
Mrs. Liz Sandals (Guelph L)
Ms. Laurie Scott (Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock PC)
Mr. Johan Schein (Davenport ND)
Contact any of the above-noted, your MPP, the House Leaders and the Premier to make your opinion known.Recommendations for Changes to the Aggregate Resources Act & Underlying Policies (2012)
1. Make conservation of aggregate, a non-renewable resource, a priority over approval of new extraction sites. Conservation can occur through aggregate recycling and use of alternative materials. All three levels of government need to be encouraged to use recycled product.
2. Reserve virgin aggregate, a non-renewable resource, for use within Canada.
3. Prohibit aggregate extraction below the water table without a full Environmental Assessment and full understanding of the impact on all areas, near and far.
4. Prohibit aggregate extraction below the water table in drinking water source areas.
5. Develop a process and guidelines for identifying and designating new Specialty Crop Areas to safeguard unique agricultural land resources. Prohibit aggregate extraction in Specialty Crop Areas.
6. Conduct a thorough study of all existing aggregate reserves in Ontario. We cannot know what we need until we know what we have.
7. Develop an “Aggregate Master Plan” and disallow new aggregate mining licenses within environmentally protected spaces until the “Aggregate Master Plan” has been fully approved by the people and the province. Align the “Aggregate Master Plan” with existing environmental protection legislation including the Greenbelt, the Niagara Escarpment Plan and the Oak Ridges Moraine.
8. Provide an assessment of the cumulative affects (dust, noise, air quality, traffic emissions; effects on water) of the “Aggregate Master Plan” on Ontario residents by district.
9. Require that new quarry proposals demonstrate need for additional aggregate resource extraction in meeting the demands of the Ontario market.
10. Mandate that an Environmental Assessment occur for all new or expanding aggregate operations.
11. Realign the cost of virgin aggregate to reflect reality. Economically, aggregate is a low-priced, heavy-weight commodity that takes the bulk of its cost from transportation. Today, however, the price of virgin aggregate must include the activism necessary by residents to fight for their best interest despite the elected and public institutions designed to represent and protect the public interest. As well, the cost must encompass the environmental cost on residents. In other words the market cost for virgin aggregate is unrealistically cheap. Create a management system that works for residents and price the product accordingly. This is called full cost accounting.
12. Address what will happen to the operators of small aggregate resources if a mega-quarry becomes the sanctioned approach. What will small operators do when they are subjected to the monopolistic power of the goliath-like mega-quarry?
13. Implement “social licencing” where operators must earn the right to continue extraction through responsible operation, and timely and progressive rehabilitation.
14. Include an end to the aggregate licence, a “sunset clause”. Legally, all contracts require a termination point. Give communities a light at the end of the tunnel. Operators have a tendency to keep a near exhausted site active enough to avoid rehabilitation due to the expense. Or, they extend the life of the operation by accepting commercial fill – the more contaminated/suspect the fill the higher the fee earned. Or, they stockpile licences they do not use. All these practices have a negative impact on local communities.
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