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A New Direction

B.C. assocation changes brand to make aggregates a known commodity.


April 17, 2013
By Peter Caulfield

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The Aggregate Producers Association of British Columbia last year
changed its name to the  the British Columbia Stone, Sand and Gravel
Association (BCSSGA).

The Aggregate Producers Association of British Columbia last year changed its name to the  the British Columbia Stone, Sand and Gravel Association (BCSSGA).

BCSSGA executive director Paul Allard says the purpose of the name change, which took place in June 2012, was to improve communication with people and organizations outside the aggregate industry.

“We thought a new name would identify us better to anyone who didn't know what ‘aggregate’ meant, such as people in government, as well as the general public,” he says.

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Allard says the association got the idea for the change when some of its senior officials met with B.C. civil servants in Victoria, and the meeting began with the government people asking their industry counterparts to explain what aggregate was.

Another reason for the switch was to align the B.C. association with the National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association in the United States and the Ontario Stone, Sand and Gravel Association.

Founded in 1957, the former Aggregate Producers Association of Ontario changed its name in the fall of 2006. OSSGA CEO Moreen Miller says the 279-member association decided to take on a new name in order to be more specific about what it does.

“We did  a market survey in the early 2000s that found that ‘aggregate’ is not widely understood by the general public,” Miller says. “Because of land use pressures, our industry has been coming more and more into contact with the general public, and it is important that we have a clear identity.”

Allard says most of the interaction that BCSSGA members have with the public is confrontational. He cites as an example the Fraser Valley Aggregate Pilot Project (APP). The APP was established by the B.C. Ministry of State for Mines in 2004 in response to persistent and intense conflicts with the public involving aggregate operations in the Fraser Valley Regional District (FVRD), a fast-growing rural and semi-rural area east of Greater Vancouver. Because the FVRD is a narrow area sandwiched between water and mountains to the north and the U.S. border to the south, there are often conflicts between residents and businesses over land use.

The purpose of the APP is to develop a set of recommendations to industry, local governments and the provincial government for new approaches that reduce land use conflicts and encourage the development of a long-term, economic and stable supply of aggregate.

One of the goals of the project is to put in place a simple, colour-coded method for  permitting aggregate operations, including identifying lands as either suitable or not suitable for aggregate uses.

But good intentions and high hopes notwithstanding, the project has stalled and it looks unlikely that it will get in gear again soon.

“There were continuing complaints from the public about noise, dust and truck traffic,” Allard says.

“As a result, the industry wanted to better inform the public of its activities. One of the purposes of the project was to make everyone aware of where aggregate is located in B.C. But that didn't lead anywhere and there's been no advancement on the project for several years.”

Allard says there will probably continue to be conflicts between the public and aggregate producers in B.C. in the future.

“Many of the current mine locations in B.C. have been there for years, and housing has been gradually encroaching on the mines, which has led to friction with residents,” he says.

Allard says that, after dealing with the public, the BCSSGA’s biggest challenge has been the fact that aggregate is not a provincial resource in British Columbia. 

“In B.C., there is divided responsibility between provincial and municipal jurisdictions, which has proven to be problematic for our industry,” Allard says. “The Province issues the mining permits, but the municipal level of government is responsible for making and enforcing land use bylaws,” he says. “The Province allows you to mine, but it's the municipality that says whether you can or cannot crush and screen. If aggregate were a provincial resource, there wouldn't be a problem.”

Allard says the BCSSGA has been trying to have aggregate declared a provincial resource for about 10 years.

“Although most municipal governments in B.C. are friendly to the aggregate industry, they don't have the expertise or the resources to deal with land use questions related to the mining and processing of aggregate,” he says. 

Allard doesn't expect the matter will be resolved if the B.C. New Democratic Party succeeds the free-enterprise B.C. Liberal Party as the governing party after the May 2013 election, as polls suggest it will.

“When we started our quest to have aggregate declared a provincial resource, the NDP was in power,”Allard says. “The Liberals have had the ball for 12 years, and yet we do not feel we are any further ahead than we were before they came to power. Our relationship with the government is much better than it was, but if we had to measure our successes in tangibles, we would probably come to the same conclusion: We have been spinning our wheels for 10 years. We do not expect that the potential change in government will have a dramatic effect on the aggregate industry in B.C.”

Looking ahead, the main concern of the BCSSGA in the future is the return of the B.C. Provincial Sales Tax (PST). Effective April 1, 2013, the current 12 per cent Harmonized Sales Tax will be decoupled into the five per cent federal GST and the seven per cent PST.

As a result of the change, according to a report by Michael Willis, Lafarge Canada Inc. director of indirect taxes, the B.C. aggregate industry will face higher costs on delivery conveyances, material depot costs, scales, electricity and general business administrative costs.

“The return of the PST is of great concern to the association and its members,” says Allard. “It's a loony way to do business and it will create havoc. We greatly preferred the HST, which streamlined our business, especially the tax collection component. It's much easier to collect one tax than it is to collect two.”