Rock to Road

News
The aggregate debate


July 30, 2009
By Andy Bateman

July
30, 2009- A detailed report in today’s Orangeville Citizen (Ontario) encapsulates the
debate over land use for aggregates and other uses. In this instance the
aggregate property is public, neatly removing the profit motive from the
discussion. 


“The debate over the proper
use of Mono's town-owned gravel pit took centre stage at Tuesday's council
meeting when representatives of the Mono Nordic Ski Club argued for its use as
a recreational area while proponents of aggregate mining said the pit should
continue to produce gravel.

 

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For a number of years, the
ski club and the town have shared the site on County Road 16 east of Blind
Line. The town gives the club permission to use the area. The club, in turn,
maintains the trails at its own expense. Local road infrastructure projects
have ramped up, however, and the town is in need of more gravel.

Arguments for gravel
extraction use became more compelling after the town got quotes that compared
the price of using gravel from their own pit, to hauling it in from another
location. The 36,000 tonnes of B-grade gravel needed to rebuild Mono's Second
Line from the paved portion north of Highway 9 to Five Sideroad will cost
$116,201 from the town's pit, as opposed to $383,700 from a private location.

Ski Club spokesman Usman
Valiante, meanwhile, is urging Mono council to "think outside the
box" on the issue. "The position we have is that we want what's in
the best interests of the town," he said Tuesday. "There's a tendency
to undervalue" recreational use of land.

 

In his Tuesday presentation
to council, Mr. Valiante acknowledged there is a strong case for gravel
extraction. He pointed out, however, that maintaining the ski trails will have
long-term, intrinsic economic benefits. By making gravel extraction the
ultimate priority, he said, "there will be fiscal savings in one area. But
there will be costs in another." Although the land would eventually be
rehabilitated, "its utility value won't be the same."

 

He said the topography of
the trails, with their particular elevations and curves, make the area around
the pit "a world class" cross-country skiing facility. He added that
the pit, as well as the Monora
Park ski facility, has
produced four local skiers who are serious contenders for a spot in the 2010
Winter Olympics.

Altering the trail system
through extraction, he explained, will mean that the facility will not be as
good, regardless of what rehabilitation takes place.

In an interview after his
presentation, Mr. Valiante said a first-class facility will draw skiers from
other areas, which means outside dollars into the local economy. For example,
an out-of-town skier will buy a meal in a local restaurant, or even book a room
in a local hotel. As well, he said, good recreational areas add to the value of
nearby properties, provide a recreational outlet for youth, and have health
benefits are obvious.

 

Mayor Haddock, on the
other hand, said it's "good old common sense" to have gravel
extraction the number one priority. "Let's save money where we can and
build the roads we need to build. If, by owning the pit, we're saving $50 or
we're saving $500,000, it is still viable" to focus on extraction.
"The pit is an asset the public owns and we should be making full use of
it. Some may disagree but, overall, there are 7,200 people (in Mono) that we
are accountable to."”