Rock to Road

Cooperation in action

February 20, 2010
By Andy Bateman

February 20, 2010 – A
recent article in the Lindsay Post, “Sometimes conservation means unlikely
partners”, describes cooperation in action between a conservancy group and
several Ontario
aggregate producers.   

“The work of The Couchiching
Conservancy is all about partnerships. Often we acquire or manage lands in
partnership with other conservation groups.

We partner with landowners on stewardship
projects or to create long-term solutions to protect lands they love. Many of
our projects depend on partnerships with local communities.

We also partner with local businesses, through our
corporate membership program and by encouraging their involvement in
on-the-ground projects. On occasion, that leads to hard questions: how could we
work with the quarry companies, for example, that often destroy the natural
habitats we are seeking to protect?


Our answer is rooted in the reality of being
part of a relatively small community. We all use stone and gravel to support
our lifestyle; the pits and quarries have gone through a public process and
have clear rules to follow in locating and operating their facilities; and we
know that we will often be neighbours on the same landscape for many decades to
come. While we certainly avoid the few bad actors that seem to be part of every
industry, we accept that most of the companies involved try to minimize the
effects of their operations on the environment.

In an area like the Carden limestone plain,
where conservancies and quarries are sometimes in competition for the same land
base, some degree of conflict is perhaps inevitable. But cooperation is also
possible, and over the past two years a great deal of discussion has led to
much better understanding of the priorities and needs of other interests by
everyone involved.

That cooperation can bring tangible results. At
the entrance to Prairie Smoke Nature Reserve, for example, we wanted to develop
a small parking area so that visitors would not have to park on the side of Dalrymple Road.
Miller Paving, who have operated a nearby quarry for several decades, provided
the equipment and materials to install a well-designed gravel parking lot, all
at no cost to the Conservancy.

Similarly, Stewart Construction donated
materials from their pit just west of Orillia to
extend the parking area at Grant's Woods in Orillia. Glenn Stewart has been very generous
in helping us to select large rocks that we use to recognize major corporate
sponsors, and in providing his machines to deliver and place them. These
contributions have saved the Conservancy thousands of dollars, meaning that
those dollars can be used for pressing conservation projects.

Last summer Dufferin Aggregates was among our
partners in staging the Carden Nature Festival. The company held quarry tours and
gave participants a chance to go fossil-hunting during the festival.

We continue to work together with these and
other aggregate companies in the region to find common ground.

It would be naïve to
think that the rapidly expanding quarry industry in this region and
conservation interests would never conflict. But while recognizing that we have
different agendas and different priorities, it is in the best interests of the
community for us to work together where we can.”