City of Hamilton Staff Upset Over Ford Government’s Proposed Quarry Rule Changes

The potential changes could affect water tables, trucking routes and where quarries could expand. Self-filing procedures and elimination of licensing for some “low risk” activities are also proposed.

Changes of concern to Hamilton and other municipalities include no longer requiring “agreements between municipalities and aggregate producers regarding aggregate haulage.”

News from Citizens at City Hall, a Hamilton, Ontario-based citizen watchdog group

Posted October 16th, 2019 on Niagara At Large

Hamilton, Ontario – City of Hamilton staff are fuming over a Ford government re-write of the rules governing quarrying and related aggregate transportation.

The provincial plans emerged from a “summit” last March to which the
city was not invited.

And once again the changes have not been spelled out in
sufficient detail to determine their impacts, although they have won
the endorsement of the aggregate industry association.

The potential changes could affect water tables, trucking routes and
where quarries could expand. Self-filing procedures and elimination of
licensing for some “low risk” activities are also proposed.

City planning staff are recommending submission of comments to the province that include some barely diplomatic expressions of frustration in response to a notice posted on the Environmental Registry of Ontario.

“A pattern of provincial engagement (e.g. limited or targeted public
consultation, short commenting periods, vague Act regulation or Plan
changes, uncertainty as to the number of opportunities to comment, and
posting changes on ERO followed by a short effective date between
posting and coming into effect) continues,” declares the report that staff are recommending be sent to Queen’s Park.

“There is a commitment to consult further on any regulatory changes
but there are no details as to when or how this consultation will take
place or the length of time municipalities will be given to make comments on any proposed changes.”

The proposed amendments to Aggregate Resources Act (ARA) have just a 45-day commenting period.

Changes of concern to Hamilton and other municipalities include no longer requiring “agreements between municipalities and aggregate producers regarding aggregate haulage.”

That could mean heavy trucks damaging city roads and travelling along
unwelcome routes although the city could seek voluntary agreements
with the aggregate operators.

The provincial notice also promises “a more robust application process for existing operators that want to expand to extract aggregate within the water table” while achieving “additional protection of water resources”.

Hamilton staff applaud the latter promise but worry that the usual description for quarrying is “above or below the water table” rather than “within”, so are asking for provincial clarification.

The Ontario Stone, Sand and Gravel Association (OSSA) has hailed
the proposed provincial changes as “reducing red tape and
addressing many of the inefficiencies that weigh down the industry.”

On the day it was released, the OSSGA tweeted its support: “It demonstrates that this government is listening to industry and we’re moving on matters that will make it easier to do business in Ontario. The Minister and his staff understand the importance of aggregate – without it nothing gets built!”

In January OSSGA released its Untangling Red Tape  report that called on the Ford government to make changes to the Aggregate Resources Act. It criticized changes made by the previous Liberal government after a wide ranging public
consultation process.

In February the provincial minister of natural resources and forestry
announce a summit on aggregate reform, but its location wasn’t announced
until a few days before it occurred. Wellington Water Watchers
petitioned to have the summit opened. The citizens’ coalition Gravel Watch
Ontario says repeatedly asked to attend, but got no response.

When the summit took place in Caledon on March 29 with about 70 attendees, Gravel Watch held a picket outside to protest.

“The people of Ontario value clean air and water, our environment and our farmland,” Caledonia resident Cheryl Conners told the media. “We will not stand by quietly while  they continue their secret assault on the environment to the benefit of their rich industry friends.”

The March summit is listed as the only “public consultation opportunities” that guided the new provincial proposals.

Further comments can be submitted to the Environmental Registry until November 5. To submit a comment, click on – <https://ero.ontario.ca/notice/019-0556> .

To read the provincial notice, click on – <https://ero.ontario.ca/notice/019-0556> .

To read the Stone, Sand and Gravel Associations ‘Untangling Red Tape’ report, click on –  <https://ero.ontario.ca/notice/019-0556&gt;To read related news commentary Niagara At Large posted this October 15th, 2019 on this issue, click on https://niagaraatlarge.com/2019/10/15/ontarios-ford-government-now-moving-to-weaken-rules-for-owners-of-provinces-quarries-and-pits/ .

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