Partial to aggregate: Ford government’s troubling approach
Quarry truck traffic has huge impact on rural communities
‘Clear display of industry demands versus community benefit and public interest’
AWARE News Network
The Ford government’s clear lack of interest in the views of the public when it comes to charting the future of the aggregate industry in Ontario has attracted criticisim from many groups, including AWARE Simcoe and the Simcoe County Greenbelt Coalition.
In its submission on the government’s proposed amendments to the Aggregate Resources Act, AWARE Simcoe expresses disappointment that the government announced its amendments October 28 as part an omnibus bill (Bill 132 – Better for People, Smarter for Business) a full SEVEN days before the public comment was due to end (today).
“We hereby provide our comments about the proposed amendments to the ARA for the record and without faith that our concerns will be considered,” says the AWARE Simcoe submission.
Also cited is the government’s failure to invite organizations representing those who have life experience of the effects of aggregate extraction – residents, farmers and environmentalists – to an aggregate summit in March that was part of the process referred to in the Environment Registry of Ontario as leading to the amendments. Only industry and government representatives were included.
“One of the most troubling parts of this ERO posting is its clear display of industry demands versus community benefit and public interest,” says the SCGC, calling for further consultation, including a second Aggregate Summit for those who were excluded from the first one, including farming organizations, rural community leaders, environmental organizations and municipalities most impacted by aggregate operations.
“If the province is true to its stated goal of working for the people, then it would seem logical that people and communities have an equally weighted opportunity to provide feedback on changes to the ARA.”
Recommendations from AWARE Simcoe include:
-Make conservation of aggregate, a non-renewable resource, a priority over approval of new extraction sites.
-Reserve virgin aggregate, a non-renewable resource, for use within Canada.
-Prohibit aggregate extraction below the water table without a full Environmental Assessment and full understanding of the impact on all areas, near and far.
-Prohibit aggregate extraction below the water table in drinking water source areas.
-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.
-Conduct a thorough study of all existing aggregate reserves in Ontario. We cannot know what we need until we know what we have. -Include an end to the aggregate licence, a “sunset clause”. Legally, all contracts require a termination point.
Recommendations from SCGC include:
-Consider the preservation of groundwater resources a matter of provincial interest and thereby decree that “below water table” extraction is prohibited from any expansions or new applications.
-Prohibit aggregate operations within headwaters, significant recharge areas or highly vulnerable aquifers. -Implement policies that encourage recycling of aggregate materials so there is less pressure on locating and extracting virgin aggregate.
-Consult further on vague references to “streamlining” some requirements and allowing and “self-filing” with regard to others.
Read the submissions :