June 1, 2015 – Aggregate Extraction
Ontario Hansard – 01-June2015
Mr. Ted Arnott: Mr. Speaker, the licensing and approvals process for new pits and quarries continues to be controversial in Ontario today. Nearby residents are often concerned about the impact that a proposed quarry or gravel pit will have on their groundwater, the environment and property values, as well as the impact that the gravel trucks will have on their local roads and infrastructure.
Local municipalities often have no choice but to spend hundreds of thousands of ratepayers’ dollars responding to these applications. They rightly question the huge cost of dealing with applications, including appeals to the Ontario Municipal Board. However, the reality is that if we’re going to build anything in Ontario, whether it’s schools, hospitals, roads or bridges, we need the aggregate that is extracted from pits and quarries.
On April 22, I wrote to the Minister of Natural Resources, urging him to update the Aggregate Resources Act and strike the right balance between our need for resource extraction and our concomitant need to protect our environment. In my letter, I wrote that the approvals process should be scientifically based, open and transparent; should ensure that people have a meaningful say; and that the adjudication of disputes is independent, impartial and not cost-prohibitive. I also outlined a number of suggestions that I believe can improve the process, following up on many of the recommendations made almost two years ago by the Standing Committee on General Government in its review of the Aggregate Resources Act.
This is an important issue for many people in Wellington–Halton Hills. I urge the minister to carefully review my letter and tell this House when he will proceed with the changes he has promised, consistent with the recommendations of the standing committee.