Society and Sustainability
OSSGA AGM focuses on moving the industry forward
By Andrew Macklin
The Ontario Stone, Sand and Gravel Association recognizes the changing landscape of the province’s aggregate industry.
The Ontario Stone, Sand and Gravel Association recognizes the changing landscape of the province’s aggregate industry. They have participated heavily in the review of Ontario’s Aggregate Resources Act, conducted valuable research on issues surrounding water extraction and rehabilitation, and consulted with government ministries on issues important to the day-to-day operations of producers across the province.
|One contentious issue facing the industry in Ontario is the concept of net gain for new pit applications.|
At the OSSGA 2014 Annual General Meeting, held at the Fairmont Chateau Laurier in Ottawa, members were provided with information presented by a series of speakers to help understand how the industry landscape is changing, and how companies can survive in the wake of continued environmental and societal pressures that are making it difficult to affordably do business in the province.
Creating a ‘Net Gain’
One contentious issue facing the industry in Ontario is the concept of net gain for new pit applications. The term refers to the fact that there must be a net gain on the land used for aggregate extraction; the subsequent use of the land must be a ‘net gain’ versus the original use of the land.
The discussion during the presentation centered around the fact that people outside of the industry see net gain as a replacement of the original land use, plus additional compensations. However, net gain doesn’t necessarily involved returning the land to its original use. Other important factors have to be considered at the time of rehabilitation, including the land uses surrounding the rehabilitation site, needs for community parks and recreation lands, and a careful look at the need for certain types of environmental lands in the area (wetlands, marshes). According to Dave Charlton from Stantec, one of the presenters on the issue: “Like for like is not a requirement for net gain. Increasing habitat diversity IS part of net gain.”
It’s the same approach that OSSGA is using to address another important issue facing Ontario’s aggregates industry: the number on legacy sites littering the provincial landscape.
According to the Management of Abandoned Aggregate Properties Program (MAAP), 7,984 of these sites still exist in Ontario. Sand and gravel pits make up more than 90 per cent of those sites, which range from 20 to 100 years old. Since 2008, over 75 per cent of the original 6,619 sites have been re-evaluated and it has been determined that just under 3,000 of them will require some level of rehabilitation intervention.
Under the current provincial funding model for pit rehabilitation, $0.005 cents per ton of aggregate, it would take 100-150 to rehabilitate all of those sites, a number that neither MAAP nor TOARC (The Ontario Aggregate Resources Corporation) are comfortable with. As a result, the two organizations are working on a 20-25 year plan for the rehabilitation of all remaining legacy sites, including the necessary financial requirements and where that money could be generated.
Thanks to the work of OSSGA and supporting organizations, aggregate producers are learning how to produce gravel, and make money doing it, in the new economic and environmental climate in Ontario.