CRH’s Teedon Pit extension: Donna Baylis responds
The following is an Objector’s Response to a January 3 2020 letter from CRH Canada Group Inc. Objectors (there are 178) are those who registered in a process under the Aggregate Resources Act. Those who did not register can’t respond under this process but can continue to fight to protect the water in the political arena – local, provincial and federal – and in the court of public opinion.
From Donna Baylis, Creemore
I don’t know why I continue to participate in these sham public comment consultation processes.
The aggregate industry fronted by the Ontario Stone Sand and Gravel Association (OSSGA) has done an admirable job of lobbying the Ontario government for favourable laws, regulations and policies to the point where all venues for objection have been taken away from Ontario municipalities and residents without significant legal costs being incurred. Even this 20-day response period is designed to put the objector under time pressure and to cost money in the form of registered mail/delivery to proponent and government recipients. I recognize there is a risk by delivering this letter exclusively by e-mail, however, with multiple recipients and a mere 20 days to review and respond, I must trust that e-mail will be acceptable.
The latest round of amendments to the Aggregate Resources Act (ARA) enacted by the Ford government under Bill 132 Better for People, Smarter for Business Act, 2019 shut down any objections re: ongoing maintenance and repairs due to road degradation from truck traffic; took away municipal control via zoning by-laws over depth of extraction of aggregate sites; took away municipal control via zoning by-laws over crown land; and gave the Minister god-like powers to add, amend, rescind and approve licences at his/her discretion without need to notify affected municipalities.
The ARA amendments under Bill 132 were proposed before the public consultation period on the Environmental Registry of Ontario (ERO #019-0556) had come to a close, proving the ERO process a charade under this government.
Despite CRH’s letter of January 3, 2020 (the company having had 301 days to reply), my objections stand.
I object that:
1. “Need” for aggregate is assumed despite the existing Teedon pit (licence #3670) not being fully extracted, and with multiple neighbouring sites already licenced (#607461, #607361 and #3680).
2. The application extraction area was reduced in size twice (in years 2012, 2018) from the original (2011) proposal reducing the licence area from 42.6 ha to 15.3 ha and the extraction area from 39 ha to 13.5 ha to “protect important natural heritage features”. The 65% reduction in size is an obvious indicator that extraction in the area is inappropriate.
3. Despite inappropriate siting, the proponent continues to promote the project confident that, once a licence is granted, future site expansion and licence amendments are relatively easy – and getting easier — to obtain.
4. Indiscriminate approval of new aggregate operations leads to excess supply, which keeps the market cost of aggregate artificially low despite aggregate being a finite resource.
5. Supplies of aggregate are being allocated and taken from future generations, especially where decisions made today are grandfathered going forward.
6. The Ontario government does not take “the big picture” into account with respect to (i) concern for future Ontarians, (ii) consolidated sites impacts, (iii) cumulative impacts of consolidated sites. 7. The Government of Ontario maps and ranks land based on the quality of the aggregate resource for aggregate extraction with complete disregard for the fact that aggregate quality also underpins clean water sources, productive farmland, and healthy ecosystems.
8. Pits and quarries are expected to be dug “close to market”, which undermines the recycling market and, as Mr. Wayne Roberts of NOW Magazine succinctly puts it, is “a stand-alone piece of stupidity that would be laughed out of court if applied to uranium, computers, steel or coal, let alone food.”
9. Aggregate operations are approved on environmentally significant sites (Walker’s expansion in the protected Niagara Escarpment near Duntroon); source water areas (CRH’s expansion near Waverley); allowed near municipal water wells (CRH’s startup in Paris); are re-opened/expanded after being exhausted and dormant or closed (Brock’s site in Tottenham); allowed to go below the water table despite original mandate (also Brock’s site in Tottenham); used as a landfill (Carmeuse near Ingersoll) or for soil remediation (Ramara site proposal); all without requirement for full environmental assessments and cumulative impact studies.
10. Aggregate operations take priority over prime farmland (Lafarge expansion near Avening) and Canada’s food security.
11. Aggregate operations are allowed to go below the water table in source water areas (Sarjeant pit near Waverley).
12. Ontario’s aggregate policy framework does not take people’s health into account (RIP Jeanine Cressey).
13. The ARA is a back-door to owning Canadian water rights.
14. Tonnage fees do not cover road costs. In May 2012, Marolyn Morrison, Mayor of Caledon, and Chair of the Top Aggregate Producing Municipalities in Ontario (TAPMO), pointed out that the cost of heavy aggregate traffic on infrastructure warranted a fee of at least $0.93 per tonne to break-even. The current levy of $0.202 per tonne does not even come close. In 2012 the aggregate industry advanced the idea of 50 cents per tonne aggregate levy so companies are laughing all the way to the bank at 20.2 cents per tonne.
15. Trucks deviate from haul routes with police enforcement being the only recourse for residents, straining local police budgets. 16. Aggregate companies strive to cut property taxes increasing their burden on the municipality and region.
17. The aggregate industry is not good for tourism, which affects local economies.
18. Aggregate operations put source water at risk by reducing or removing the filter layer above the water table opening the water table to contaminates and turbidity; releasing silt and dust; use of dust suppressants; and in the case of quarries use of explosive chemicals such as ammonium nitrate fuel oil (ANFO).
19. Aggregate operations are considered “interim” land use, when the lifespans of most sites are measured in multiple decades and the trend is expansion. 20. With history as an indicator, the odds of the proposed Teedon expansion site being rehabilitated to a useful state and not expanded yet again are slim to none.
21. TOARC funding for defaulted site remediation is not enough and the current annual rate of site rehabilitation is unworthy of a responsible industry.
22. The Government of Ontario does not encourage use of recycled product over virgin material neither at the provincial nor municipal levels.
23. The aggregate operators near Waverley have complete disregard for the effect of their operations on the quality of water for local residents and their previously fully functional wells.
24. Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry has limited resources to monitor aggregate operations and relies on complaints to initiate regulation enforcement. 25. The current Government of Ontario does not utilize the Environmental Registry as intended and as legislated, especially in regard to this aggregate proposal.
26. Aggregate operations have no regard for impacts on abutting woodlands, wetlands and wildlife, such as negative impacts from dust, noise and water use.
27. CRH continues to provide topographical map images that understate the level of forest on the property. See Appendix II for today’s verdant google map representation.
28. This proposal is all about theft from the future. With close to 6,000 active licenced operations in Ontario, excluding inactive, grandfathered, crown land and otherwise unlicenced sites, more and more Ontarians are starting to see the unfairness inherent in today’s governance when it comes to the aggregate industry.
We understand that government and therefore taxpayers are the largest customer of the product, and we know that the resource is invaluable and finite, which is why I demand on behalf of Ontarians, good information, forward “big picture” thinking, good decision-making, recycling and conservation.
The current Aggregate Resources Act allows pits/quarries to be dug anywhere including environmentally protected land; it bypasses the environmental assessment process; it does not require that proof of need of the aggregate be established; it requires that pits/quarries be dug “close to market” undermining recycling; it does not quantify cumulative impacts and it does not take farmland, source water or people’s health protection into account.
With the existing Teedon Pit not even close to being fully extracted, CRH’s request for an expansion is premature, excessive and would cheat future planners. This proposal does not make conservation or Ontario’s future options a priority.
Sincerely, Donna Baylis
Recommendations for Changes to the Aggregate Resources Act & Underlying Policies (2019)
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 aggregate 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. Implement “social licencing” where operators must earn the right to continue extraction through responsible operation, and timely and progressive rehabilitation.
13. 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.
Topographical map of proposed CRH Teedon pit expansion area (original proposal) sourced from google maps as of January 19, 2020.
CRH understated “History of Application” exhibit photos in the January 3, 2020 objector response letter re: the size/density of colour of the forest area on the property. (map to be added)
There are 100-year-old trees on site and while the peer review process prompted the excavation area to be scaled back to leave the significant woodland on the west side of the property below the ridge, the dust, water use and activity would undoubtedly have negative impact on these and abutting natural areas.