MNRF releases supply and demand study of GGH aggregate resources
September 5, 2017 - On August 8, 2017, MNRF released a new study that it commissioned to update knowledge and information on aggregate resources in the Greater Golden Horseshoe. The study was conducted in 2016 by Golder Associates Ltd. in conjunction with MHBC Planning, Altus Group and Dionne Bacchus and Associates.
MNRF staff met with OSSGA in early August to introduce the study. At that time, industry provided feedback indicating concern with respect to possible misinterpretation of the numbers within the study. The executive summary of the study, which indicates potential remaining reserves of 2,792 million tonnes in 123 selected sand and gravel pits does indicate that, “there is quite a high degree of uncertainty associated with this estimate and the results should not be taken as a very realistic indication of what resource may actually be proven and made available from these licensed sites. While potential reserves exist in many parts of the Province there are concerns about scarcity of certain products in close to market locations that will lead to increased costs and environmental impacts associated with increased haul distance.”
That said, industry felt a stronger disclaimer should be attached to the study. There is a danger that these numbers will be taken at face value without a true understanding of the geological uncertainties of the material. A number of suggestions were made with respect to the Executive Summary. While these were not adopted, MNRF included a transmittal letter when it released the study to further underscore the caution with which this report should be read.
Please find below excerpts from their letter of introduction to the survey and an executive summary which is attached. A full copy of the report is available here.
Excerpt from MNRF letter of introduction to the study:
The Supply and Demand Study of Aggregate Resources Supplying the Greater Golden Horseshoe (GGH), is now available.
The purpose of the current study was to gain a better understanding of current aggregate resources by updating key parts of the 2010 State of the Aggregate Resource in Ontario (SAROS), including information related to demand, material supply, availability and transport of aggregates. The results of the report are intended to:
•help inform both provincial and municipal government planning and policies in order to ensure a balanced approach to protecting Ontario’s resources, including aggregates; and,
•assist aggregate operators in identifying longer term business approaches (e.g., recycling).
This new study includes reserves and areas that were not included in the SAROS study parameters, namely estimated sand and gravel reserves and estimated reserves up to 100km outside of the GGH. As highlighted in the report, these estimates must be taken with caution as the quality of material and reliability of information available varies. However, despite the uncertainty of these sand and gravel estimates, MNRF felt it important to include some analysis of this resource even if to serve as a baseline. It is hoped that future studies will be able to corroborate the analysis performed in this study, or further refine methodologies to ensure more accurate estimates.
Consistent with the SAROS analysis, the constraint analysis in this most recent study does include some discussion of level (or strength) of constraint placed upon the resource. Results included in the conclusion and Executive Summary however, focus on overall constraints on aggregate resources. As identified in the report, while provincial policies include certain circumstances where a “constraint” may result in no permissible extraction of aggregate resources (e.g., Provincially Significant Wetland in eco regions 5E, 6E and 7E); the majority of constraints identified in the study simply illustrate that there is a greater test to be met before extraction may be considered in those areas. In comparison, some “unconstrained” resources may still not be available for other reasons, such as viability of land size or land ownership.
It should also be noted that this study was completed in 2016, prior to the release of the updated Growth Plan 2017. While new policies (e.g. Agricultural System and Natural Heritage System) may change the level or type of constraint impacting aggregate resources within these areas, they are not anticipated to impact the overall percentage of constrained resources within the study area.
To read the executive summary, please click here in English or French.
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