You can't keep doing the same thing and expect different results.
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A L T E R N A T I V E S P.2
A lot has changed since 1989!
First, we are all 29 years older. But are we any wiser?
What has changed along the way, and what have we learned? We are certainly far more aware of our ecology and environment today than we were then. Legislative initiatives have increasingly taken into account priorities such as re-use and re-cycling. More and more we have discouraged waste and misuse of finite resources. We are more concerned about our planet and the legacies we leave to our children.
So, what has NOT changed?
Well for one thing, key provisions of the Aggregate Resources Act of 1989 have not changed. The provisions within the act, which were largely derived from even earlier studies and reports, encourage low-cost exploitation of this finite resource. This has meant that thousands of acres of environmentally sensitive and supposedly protected land have been torn up for the benefit of corporate owners and shareholders. For example, a report by consultant M. A. Vos in 1969 stated:
“It is essential for a quarry to be located close to market for its product. The cost of transport of low-cost, bulk commodities like aggregate is critical in determining the competitive position of a producer.” [emphasis added]
Consequently, the Act provides that corporate profit will trump other considerations.
More recently (but still 18 years ago!) the favorable position of the aggregate industry was further entrenched by the “Provincial Policy Statement” of 1995. The PPS stated that municipalities had a responsibility:
“... to identify and protect mineral aggregate resources and legally existing pits and quarries to ensure mineral aggregates are available at a reasonable cost and as close to markets as possible …”.
The term “reasonable cost” goes undefined. However, it is clear that the aggregate industry is a highly profitable business, with the greatest profits accruing to those operators who are permitted to extract the resource ‘close to market’.
Are there ANY independent studies that document an economic benefit to the citizens and taxpayers from these policies?
The highly advantageous position gained by the aggregate industry from the recommendations going back 40 years or more was further enhanced in the 2005 PPS that stated:
“Demonstration of need for mineral aggregate resources, including any type of supply/demand analysis, shall not be required …”. [emphasis added]
What is the purpose and result of such a statement? It certainly is not to encourage careful and responsible stewardship of a finite resource! It is apparent that the aggregate industry believes it should be (and has been) given precedence over other conflicting interests.
As planner Mark L. Dorfman, F.C.I.P., R.P.P. succinctly states in a recent submission to the Ministry of Natural Resources:
“The existing governance model built in the past sixty years does not work and does not effectively deal with 1) the complexity of the need for the aggregate resource; 2) the negative impacts on people in the area of the operations and along the haul routes; 3) the need for protection of natural area features and functions; 4) the impact on water resources and its contributing integrative force in nature; 5) the inability of the legislation to deal with mitigation measures and monitoring mechanisms; 6) the absence of any real oversight by the provincial government with regard to the full life cycle of the aggregate operation from construction of the pit or quarry, operations, and to the final site and area remediation; and 7) the lack of financial assurances that on-site and off-site operations, the mitigation and monitoring, and the remediation will occur as planned at the beginning of this complex procedure.”
Mr. Dorfman goes on to say:
"The aggregate industry continues to view their business as a finite operation of extracting a resource from nature without clearly recognizing and understanding the externalities created and impacted by their industry. However, the people in communities where aggregate operations are occurring and are planned are often affected by and are part of these externalities whether as individuals or in community groups." [emphasis added]
Isn’t it about time we re-think many of the current provisions and priorities?
PitSense heartily endorses Mr. Dorfman’s analysis and recommendations. His 2-part submission is essential reading for anyone interested in influencing the path forward. It can be accessed at:
Of particular interest to PitSense supporters is his statement on page 10 of Part One:
“Mitigating the financial impacts on people individually and collectively in municipalities have not been considered and rationally articulated by legislation and the communities.”
Among all the aspects that PitSense is addressing, one important part of our mandate is “rationally articulating” these “financial impacts”. As Mr. Dorfman states:
“Legislation should be put in place to allow municipalities to require, negotiate and enter into binding agreements with licensees to provide royalty payments based on the extracted volumes, as well as costs to mitigate impacts on off-site properties, compensation for impacts to people directly affected by the full extent of the extraction operation, compensating property devaluations, recompensing municipal losses of property taxes, and incentives for community facilities.”[emphasis added]
PitSense intends to vigorously pursue our mandate, and with your continued support we are quite confident we can have a positive influence.
As Bob Dylan once said: "The Times They Are A-Changing".
PitSense believes that we must re-evaluate society's relationships between our aggregate industries, our aggregate users, our environment, and ordinary citizens who currently suffer the harmful consequences without adequate compensation.
We must create a better balance between all stakeholders.
Every problem is an opportunity ...