By Lorne johnson
CSC works with industry, NGOs on certification system.
By Lorne johnson
Aggregates and aggregate materials are some of Canada’s most important
building materials, used in virtually all infrastructure projects, but
they are also a growing source of conflict within some communities.
Aggregates and aggregate materials are some of Canada’s most important building materials, used in virtually all infrastructure projects, but they are also a growing source of conflict within some communities. With a vision for a prosperous aggregate materials industry in Canada that is recognized nationally and internationally for social and environmental leadership, the Cornerstone Standards Council (CSC) is developing a new voluntary approach to resolving issues and recognizing industry leadership. CSC is a national organization but our first step is to develop a voluntary certification system for aggregate sites in Ontario.
As the Executive Director of CSC I have had the challenging but rewarding task of working with representatives on both sides of the issues in trying to strike the right balance in setting high but achievable standards. This mixed group of stakeholders, named the Standards Development Panel, met over 30 times to share their respective experiences, expertise and viewpoints – as operators managing pits and quarries, as citizens living near aggregate operations, as planners working with proponents and/or opponents of aggregate operations, and as environmental organizations seeking to conserve Ontario’s natural heritage. Though the discussions were sometimes difficult, the individuals involved engaged in open discussions that led to a greater understanding of the other side’s point of view and an emerging consensus on what leadership on social and environmental issues in the sector could look like.
The Standards Development Panel’s hard work has paid off, and on Jan. 6, 2014, CSC’s Draft Responsible Aggregate Standards were released, beginning a 60-day consultation period. This draft (available online at www.cornerstonestandards.ca) attempts to define requirements that pits and quarries would voluntarily undertake in order to be certified as responsible operations and represents areas of agreement and areas of compromise for the panel.
The draft standards lay out requirements that include:
- Protecting Ontario’s most important natural areas;
- Identifying and addressing potentially adverse environmental impacts
- Meaningfully engaging with local communities and Aboriginal groups before extraction is licensed and throughout the life cycle of operations;
- Communicating progress towards final extraction date with the community; and
- Developing final rehabilitation plans that incorporate community’s interests.
CSC is now seeking feedback and comments on the standards from individuals and groups concerned with how aggregate operations are sited, planned and operated. Individuals who wish to review the draft standards are encouraged to visit www.cornerstonestandards.ca and download a PDF of the standards. Comments from outside of the province of Ontario are both welcome and encouraged.
To submit comments, they must:
- Be attributed: Name, affiliation and contact information must be included.
- Be in writing: All comments must be in writing.
- Be within the consultation period: The last day for submitting comments is 4 p.m. EST on March 6, 2014.
- Be sent:
- By e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or
- By mail to Cornerstone Standards Council, 285 McLeod St., Ottawa, ON K2P 1A1
Following the consultation period ALL comments, and who they are attributed to, will be posted on the CSC website.
After the SDP’s review of the comments, a revised standard will be posted online for a 30-day consultation period. Following this consultation period, the CSC board of directors will be responsible for final approval of the CSC Responsible Aggregate Standards.
Lorne Johnson is the Executive Director of the Cornerstone Standards Council.