Laws Favouring Mining of Pits and Quarries over other Land Uses Need Overhaul, Law Group Argues

May 14 2012

Toronto - Ontario laws exempting pit and quarry operators from having to demonstrate the need for mineral aggregate allow this industry to trump other land uses to the detriment of the broader public interest, said the Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA) today in testimony before a standing committee of the provincial legislature.

Appearing at Queen’s Park before the Standing Committee on General Government, which is reviewing the operation of the province’s Aggregate Resources Act (“ARA”), lawyers for the Association argued that aggregate operations get a free ride under laws that should be closely controlling this environmentally intrusive industry.

“Regardless of whether it is the siting of new pits and quarries, ensuring compliance while they are operating, or requiring rehabilitation after closure, the province takes a kid gloves approach to this industry”, said CELA lawyer Joseph F. Castrilli. “It will take literally centuries and tens of millions of dollars to rehabilitate abandoned pits and quarries in Ontario”, added Mr. Castrilli.

“There is no other way to explain provincial policies and OMB decisions that specifically prohibit consideration of whether a new pit or quarry is needed before granting an ARA licence, or the lack of adequate Ministry of Natural Resources inspection staff responsible for ensuring aggregate industry compliance with applicable operating requirements”, said Ramani Nadarajah another CELA lawyer who gave testimony before the standing committee.

Problems posed by aggregate operations can include loss of prime agricultural land, harm to surface water and groundwater sources, detrimental effects on fish spawning, interference with rare, threatened, or endangered species and their habitat, disruption of the continuous natural environment linkages provincial plans such as the Niagara Escarpment Plan and the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan are meant to provide, traffic safety concerns, physical damage to roads, adverse impacts on tourism and corresponding effects on local and regional economies, jobs, and recreation, excessive levels of noise, dust, and nuisance, diminution in property values, and a variety of other land use conflicts.

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Background Information: CELA Submissions to the Standing Committee on General Government on the Review of the ARA, May 14, 2012

For further information, or to arrange for an interview, contact:
Joseph F. Castrilli, CELA Counsel – (416) 960-2284, ext. 218; castrillij@sympatico.ca Ramani Nadarajah, CELA Counsel – (416) 960-2284, ext. 217; ramani@cela.ca