Saturday, April 24, 2010

Ontario needs "smart planning" for aggregate extraction

by Peggy Hutchison

GABP has always recognized the need to protect aggregate resources for future use. Fifteen years ago GABP held a workshop, "We All Us the Aggregates" and heard from producers who work with communities to minimize impacts. We saw examples of rehabilitation of exhausted production sites. In 1999, the province of Ontario required that the Grey County Official Plan identify important resource areas and protect them from development that could limit their exploitation. With the introduction of the comprehensive Provincial Policy Statement (PPS) in 1995, more recently revised in 2005, it seemed that the Province was seriously "planning" aggregate resource extraction in balance with other provincial priorities. However, outcomes from recent aggregate applications indicate a disregard for wetlands, for forests, for residential communities, and for agriculture.

In 2009 GABP was asked to comment on an application by Harold Sutherland Construction for a new site adjacent of an existing site (Keppel Quarry) near Shallow Lake. The Keppel Quarry is located in the Niagara Escarpment Planning and Development Area (NEPDA) which runs through Grey County> As GABP examined the Keppel Quarry application, we realized that there was a lack of communication between the two planning authorities and further, that there were significant deficiencies in the Provincial Policy on aggregates.

GABP initiated correspondence with the Minister of Natural Resources. The Minister indicated that MNR was updating its 1993 State of the Aggregate Resource in Ontario Study and that aggregates would be considered in the five-year review of the PPS in 2010-2011.

GABP realized it did not have a policy on aggregates, though we have given it much thought over the years. Our 7-point policy is posted on our website, along with a presentation we made to the Niagara Escarpment Commission on March 18, 2010. The seventh point is directed at the Niagara Escarpment Plan Area:
7.  No new aggregate mining licenses should be granted for mining within the Niagara Escarpment Plan Area until the Niagara Escarpment Commission has a provincially approved "aggregate master plan" covering the areas under its jurisdiction. (GABP Policy February 5, 2010.)

Although the province has required that Grey County prepares its "Aggregate Resource Inventory Master Plan", which is a schedule to the County of Grey Official Plan and is posted on the county website, there is a glaring deficiency in the Plan. It implies that there are no bedrock resources outside the NEPDA and that Grey County has no jurisdiction in the NEPDA. GABP will be continuing its dialogue with the new Minister of Natural Resources, and the other ministries that are affected by aggregate policies.  

The Keppel Quarry application has yet to be considered by the NEC, but may be on its April agenda. Meanwhile, another application, by Walker Industries in Simcoe County, adjacent to Grey (south of Collingwood), was turned down by the NEC, has been appealed by local residents, and the joint hearing begins April 12, 2010 at the Creemore Area and Community Centre.

On may 1, 2010, GABP will celebrate its 20th Annual General Meeting at the Shallow Lake Community Centre (admin. note - venue has changed to Shallow Lake United Church Fellowship Hall). Ric Holt, Chairman of Gravel Watch Ontario, will share his views on policy development at the provincial level. GABP recently was accepted as a member of Gravel Watch. We look forward to a productive discussion on new policy development for aggregates in the Province of Ontario.

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