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Few solutions presented at ARA Hearings in Kitchener


July 10, 2012
By Andrew Macklin


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July 10,
2012, Kitchener, Ont. – Web Exclusive – The Ontario Government held the second
of four public hearings on the Aggregate Resources Act on Monday. The hearing
in Kitchener follows a previous one in Orangeville held a few weeks ago.

July 10,
2012, Kitchener, Ont. – Web Exclusive – The Ontario Government held the second
of four public hearings on the Aggregate Resources Act on Monday. The hearing
in Kitchener follows a previous one in Orangeville held a few weeks ago.

 

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In total,
18 presentations were made to the Standing Committee on General Government, the
tri-party group tasked with the review of the Aggregate Resources Act. The
presentations were made by a wide array of industry representatives,
agriculture producers, municipal officials and citizen groups. Each group was
given 10 minutes to make a presentation, followed by five minutes of questions
asked by members of all three political parties.

 

Rick
Esbaugh of Tri City Materials made the first presentation of the afternoon,
attempting to provide important clarification on some of the misconceptions
that have been presented as part of the ARA hearings process. That included
pointing out the fact that less than 5% of aggregate is transported by water,
and a similar percentage by rail. If there were a desire to shift aggregate
haulage from truck to either water or rail, which many community and
environmental groups have been demanding during the review process, then a
comprehensive transportation strategy would be necessary in order to meet that
demand. With so much of the rail infrastructure in Ontario removed in the past
few decades, transporting aggregate by rail is not currently an option for most
producers. He also stated that aggregate production in the region has been
significantly reduced in the past 10 years, providing statistics on current
aggregate production.

 

James
Parkin of MHBC spoke to the need for additional funding needed for the Ministry
of Natural Resources in order to provide better service to everyone affected by
the production of aggregates. A stronger financial model for the Ministry would
include funding for more effective enforcement of the industry, as well as the
creation and implementation of a solid audit system. In addition, greater
organizational capacity in MNR could also help to provide a reduction in
duplication that can slow down the licensing process.

 

However,
several representatives presenting at the hearings called for swift changes to
the Aggregate Resources Act. Garry Hunter, a consultant representing Rutledge
Farms, suggested that quarry applications be limited to a township block, and
that a citizen committee should assist MNR with review. Todd Cowan, Mayor of
the Township of Woolwich, stated that the tax received by municipalities for
aggregate removal should be increased substantially in order to pay for their
expenses. That was one of six recommendations made by Cowan and his staff,
which also included a call for a review of enforcement for site plan compliance
and the establishment of minimum separation distances between pits and
settlement areas.

 

There was
also a great deal of talk about the involvement of the Environmental Assessment
Act. Alisa McClung of Transition K-W suggested that the ARA review should be
done under the purview of the Environmental Assessment Act rather that by the
committee. University of Waterloo PhD student Tanya Markvart suggested that the
same Act shouldn’t be used universally in reviewing pits and quarries, but should
be applied in all cases of below-water-table extraction.

 

Mark
Reusser, Vice-President of the Waterloo Federation of Agriculture, made the
biggest call for change to the Aggregate Resources Act. Reusser claimed that
full site rehabilitation to previous agricultural productivity was impossible,
and as a result, no pits or quarries should be allowed on Class 1-4
agricultural land. He also insisted that the use of recycled aggregates be made
mandatory across the province, and that staged rehabilitation for pits and
quarries should be a compulsory requirement of all current and future plans.

 

The
review of the Aggregate Resources Act in Ontario will continue with two more
public hearings to be held in Ottawa and Sudbury. Following those hearings, the
committee will make recommendations on how to proceed with the review. Be sure
to visit us at our website at www.rocktoroad.com
or on Twitter @RockToRoad for future updates on the ARA review.