The Ontario Stone, Sand & Gravel Association ("OSSGA") has recently written to the Honourable Doug Ford, premier of Ontario, to state that the Premier should not interfere in the licensing and approval process for pits and quarries in the Province . OSSGA did so in response to alarming comments made by the premier about preventing, at any cost, the licensing of a quarry in the Milton area. Comments here.
The aggregate industry is vital to Ontario. The stone, sand and gravel which it supplies are used to build homes, schools, libraries, colleges, universities, hospitals, fire and police stations, as well as to construct roads, highways, water and sewer infrastructure, public transportation systems, workplaces, recreational and social centres, arenas and stadiums. We all contribute to the need for aggregates and we all benefit from the activities of the industry which extracts them.
Aggregates are to be extracted as close to market as possible to ensure an economical supply of material with shorter truck trips. This also significantly lowers overall emissions. The industry creates jobs, generates vital revenue for local governments and operates under strict regulations.
To balance the interests of all stakeholders and to protect the public, the licensing and operation of pits and quarries are subject to the requirements of the Aggregate Resources Act, the Planning Act and 23 other pieces of legislation and hundreds of regulations. The process also involves consultation with First Nations, the scrutiny of provincial government ministries, the review of local planning authorities and governments, the examination of the community, and, often, a hearing in front of the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal.
The process is a careful, deliberative, and rigorous one. It takes years and a wide array of technical and expert reports, including environmental studies, to complete. At the end of the life of a pit or quarry, the land must be rehabilitated, which adds green space to the Province.
The aggregate licensing system in Ontario represents a solid, safe and sustainable approach to bringing vital material to the market. It should not be undermined by political considerations.
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