Aggregate Act Hearings to Go on the Road

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  • 7/31/2019 Aggregate Act Hearings to Go on the Road

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    Aggregate Act hearings to go on the

    road AgMedia Inc.

    May 13, 2012

    Public outcry about Dufferin megaquarry proposal sparked

    legislative review but wont change the Highland Companies

    proposal

    by BETTER FARMING STAFF

    Initial hearings concerning Ontarios Aggregate ResourcesAct wrap up in Toronto this coming week but the politicians

    on the provincial legislature committee conducting the

    review have voted to introduce a second phase of evaluation

    that will involve travelling throughout the province.

    The decision comes after the Standing Committee on

    General Government was roundly criticized by a group

    protesting the development of a 2,300-acre quarry on primefarmland in Dufferin County near Shelburne for scheduling

    the hearing during the spring planting season.

    The committee members decision is another unbelievable

    boost to the proper way of doing democracy and for all the

    people who engage in this when asked to, says Carl

    Cosack, an organic beef farmer who chairs the North

    Dufferin Agricultural and Community Taskforce, Inc. He says

    the committee decision to ask the house leaders for

    permission to extend the hearings and travel the province

    came after his group lobbied hard and obtained the support

    of groups and individuals who wrote to the committees

    chair, David Orazietti, Liberal MPP for Sault Ste. Marie.

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    Mike Colle, parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Natural

    Resources, says he anticipates the dates and locations of the

    meetings throughout the province will be established some

    time over the next several days. We hope that we will have

    months of opportunity for people to participate, he says,

    noting the second phase could continue until November.

    Colle says there will be opportunity for groups and

    individuals to make presentations to the committee if it is

    permitted to go on the road. There are also plans to visit

    operating and retired quarry sites, and to explore how the

    legislation fits in with other provincial legislation.

    Growing public outcry about The Highland Companies

    Dufferin County quarry proposal sparked the legislative

    review but any changes to the Act the committee might

    recommend wont affect the quarrys development.

    Whatever legislation is in place when you initiate your

    application is what the review would be based on, explains

    Dufferin-Caledon Conservative MPP Sylvia Jones, who sits on

    the committee.

    The review shes referring to is a full class environmental

    assessment, which last fall the Liberal government ordered

    the Highland proposal to undergo. Its the first time a quarry

    in the province has had to undergo such an assessment,

    Colle says. The Ministry of the Environment is still waiting to

    receive suggestions from Highland about terms of reference

    for the assessment, notes Jones.

    Cosack says his group is fully aware that any action taken

    from reviewing the Act wont affect the Highland quarry

    proposal. Nevertheless, the group is committed to working

    with others to change aggregate policy in the province.

    Recent high profile conflicts concerning quarry proposals

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    have brought recognition that there has got to be a better

    way, he says. And somehow the megaquarry has touched

    something in so many people right across the province that

    that awareness and expertise thats being offered. Were

    trying to lever that expertise and the proper type of public

    engagement to change policy.

    Gord Miller, Ontarios environment commissioner, was one of

    several people who made presentations to the committee

    this past week. According to Hansard transcripts, Miller

    advocated for allowing municipalities to have more say in

    the decision to grant permission to develop a quarry. The

    Act, he says in a telephone interview Thursday, is primarilyunder provincial control although municipalities do have

    some influence through zoning. With municipalities being the

    quarries biggest customer, they are unlikely to cut

    themselves off, he says. But clearly a lot of the issues are

    planning related issues and a lot of friction were seeing out

    there relates to conflicts that arise between municipalities

    trying to plan for their residents and the fact that aggregate

    resources approvals can override much of municipalplanning.

    During the presentation he also criticized using proximity to

    market as a heavily weighted factor for approving quarry

    development and noted that the way the provincial policy

    statement is written makes it impossible to weigh need as a

    factor.

    There is no question there are some policy failures, Millersays by phone. But mostly, the problem has to do with

    failures in procedure and enforcing compliance. He

    attributes the compliance problems to not having enough

    people in the Ministry of Natural Resources to do it. Lack of

    enforcement of progressive rehabilitation plans, usually a

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    key point in negotiations for developing a quarry or a pit, in

    turn means that the land usually undergoes profound and

    lasting transformation, he says. Many pits and quarries end

    up as a small lake devoid of aquatic life or being

    rehabilitated to residential or commercial development,

    instead of being returned to previous use, he points out.

    Hearings continue Monday May 14 from 2 to 6 p.m. AndWednesday May 16 from 4 to 6 p.m. BF

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