Wednesday, May 9, 2012

A Mega-Quarry Update

If you recall, last fall I wrote two posts about the proposal to create a mega-quarry on prime farm land in Dufferin County, not far from where I live, and about Foodstock, a celebrity chef fundraiser to raise money and awareness for the cause.  I had mentioned a pending environmental review, but there was also a revision ordered to the Aggregate Resources Act, that lays out the manner by which quarries are to be set up and operated in the Province.  On Monday, I received an email from the Canadian Chef's Congress Foodstock Committee, saying that they had received word that the review was scheduled to start on that very day.  This is prime planting season, so the affected farmers will not be able to attend these meetings, and the time allotted for public consultation is too small.  Below is the email sent to me.

Foodstock Call to Action


Dearest Friends in Arms, As you know, back on September 1st the government promised that they would undertake a review of the Aggregate Resources Act. We have consistently attempted to get information on the process and when it would start, and just found out that the review will start in Toronto on Monday, May 7, 2012. Not only is the hearing taking place in Toronto (a place from which no aggregate is extracted), it is also taking place during prime planting season (virtually omitting the participation of farmers and others whose livelihoods depend on the preservation of farmland). It feels very tricky and we suspect that it is. The government has set aside just 4 short sessions to gather public input and we'd like to create a groundswell of participation to jam these sessions (there are currently only 12 hours allocated to public comment) so that they have to extend and expand the hearing. This is our chance to be heard and to share input on the future of how aggregate is extracted in this province. People wanting to voice their concerns have been asked to contact Sylvia Przezdziecki and Tamara Pomanski (their email addresses and a sample note are below). Please consider taking the time to write to them to request a chance to speak, or to voice your concerns about the destruction of farmland for aggregate.  Please also consider sending this email along to your friends--our hope is to extend the hearing and to prove to the government that we can't be caught unprepared.

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” —Edmund Burke

Michael Stadtlander, President
Canadian Chefs' Congress and on behalf of the Foodstock Committee members

Sample email

Subject: Public Participation: Aggregate Resources Act

Dear Sylvia and Tamara,

I am an Ontario resident and taxpayer.  I ask that the Government of Ontario, the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Standing Committee established to review the Aggregate Resources Act (ARA) amend the ARA to address the following values:

1.  Make conservation of aggregate, a non-renewable resource, a priority over approval of new extraction sites.  Conservation can occur through aggregate recycling and use of alternative materials.
2.  Reserve virgin aggregate, a non-renewable resource, for use within Canada.
3. Prohibit aggregate extraction below the water table without a full Environmental Assessment and full understanding of the impact on all areas, near and far.
4. Prohibit aggregate extraction below the water table in drinking water source areas.
5.  Develop a process and guidelines for identifying and designating new Specialty Crop Areas to safeguard unique agricultural land resources.  Prohibit aggregate extraction in Specialty Crop Areas.
6. Conduct a thorough study of all existing aggregate reserves in Ontario.  We cannot know what we need until we know what we have.
7. Develop an “Aggregate Master Plan” and disallow new aggregate mining licenses within the Niagara Escarpment Plan Area, Oak Ridges Moraine and Green Belt until the “Aggregate Master Plan” has been approved by the province.
8.  Provide an assessment of the cumulative affects (dust, noise, air quality, traffic emissions; effects on water) of the “Aggregate Master Plan” on Ontario residents by district.
9.  Require that new quarry proposals demonstrate the need for additional aggregate resource extraction in meeting the demands of the Ontario market.
10.  Mandate that an Environmental Assessment occur for all new or expanding aggregate operations.
11.  Realign the cost of virgin aggregate to reflect reality.  Economically, aggregate is a low-priced, heavy-weight commodity that takes the bulk of its cost from transportation. Today, however, the price of virgin aggregate must include the activism necessary by residents to fight for their best interest despite the elected and public institutions designed to represent and protect the public interest.  As well, the cost must encompass the environmental cost on residents.  In other words the market cost for virgin aggregate is unrealistically cheap. Create a management system that works for residents and price the product accordingly.
12.  Address what will happen to the operators of small aggregate resources if a mega-quarry becomes the sanctioned approach.  What will small operators do when they are subjected to the monopolistic power of the goliath-like mega-quarry?

Until such time as the above noted issues are sufficiently addressed, I do not consider the ARA an up-to-date and relevant piece of legislation.


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I definitely agree with what is said here and with the importance of making sure this isn't all kept quiet so big business can do whatever they want to cropland, not to mention the watershed.  I will be acting on this.  The email also asks that this email be sent to friends, so here it is.  And I hope those readers who are actually residents of Ontario will also decide they want their voices heard so the government can know the environment and the food supply is at least as important as building materials.

Oh, also as a foodie and former cook, I also consider it cool and a bit of an honour that I have a communication from Chef Michael Statdlander, one of the best chefs in this area.  Sure, it isn't an actual signature and not addressed to me directly, but still...well, I like it.

1 comment:

  1. Hello Evan, seems money and big business are corrupting the fair due process owed to all citizens. It seems that those who wish to make a dollar defiling the wonder of the Earth have managed to rig the process. I thank you for keeping this issue alive in your blog. Some how we have to win these lopsided affairs and save the life of this world and all who live on it. many hugs