- Published on Wednesday, 01 May 2013 08:11
- Hits: 52
Ontario Farmland Preservation spokesman Bernard Pope will join an AWARE Simcoe panel to discuss how to put food and water first Saturday.
As solar companies moved in Simcoe County, Pope has advocated solar farms be located on non-prime agricultural land.
The panel also includes North Dufferin Agricultural Taskforce chairperson Carl Cosack, whose organization fought and stopped the megaquarry, as well as broadcast activist Dale Goldhawk. Former CBC host Donna Tranquada will emcee the event at Alliston's Circle Theatre.
The discussion which will focus on the Ontario Aggregate Resources Act and how to stop companies from using prime agricultural land for uses other than food and clean water takes place from 9:30 a.m. to noon.
By Barrie Advance Staff
Published in Simcoe County, Apr. 30, 2013
- Published on Friday, 12 April 2013 11:48
- Hits: 46
Municipalities say they need bigger royalties from aggregate dug out of the ground and hauled out of their territories because the money they get now is far less than the cost to taxpayers of serving the industry.
Getting the province to hike the current 7.5 cents per tonne royalty paid to municipalities on royalties from aggregate products is one of the chief objectives of the lobby group Top Aggregate Producing Municipalities of Ontario.
"The situation isn't fair because we have no control over anything," says Brant County Mayor Ron Eddy, a member of a group of municipalities lobbying for changes.
"The government gets to issue licences to companies for pits and quarries and it gets to state in its regulations what kinds of trucks are to be used, and what they can carry, and issue the licences. And the government decides the standards of the roads we have to build and maintain to carry those trucks.
"The royalty we get isn't enough even to cover the cost of the roads, and that's only one of a bunch of expenses we have due to the number pits around the county."
The per-tonne royalty is paid by pit and quarry owners to the Ontario Aggregate Resources Corp., which forwards a percentage to the municipalities and other organizations.
The rate has been a bugaboo with aggregate-producing municipalities for some time. It stood at four cents a tonne for years, with 3.5 cents going to the lower level and 0.5 cents to the upper level in the case of two-tiered counties and regions. Because Brant is a single-tier municipality, it got the whole four cents.
The rate was increased in 2007 to 7.5 cents per tonne, with six cents going to the lower tier municipalities and 1.5 cents to the upper level. Brant gets the 7.5 cents.
The county recently got a cheque in the mail for $130,065.95 for 2012. Compared to Brant's roads costs last year, it's a "pittance," says Eddy.
TAPMO has been around for a few years, and was originally called the Top 10 Aggregate Producing Municipalities of Ontario.
The organization's stated purpose is to work in "partnership" with companies and other stakeholders to build a responsible, sustainable industry that also works for host municipalities.
Their complaint is that the lion's share of the province's aggregate is produced in their municipalities and they have to shoulder big infrastructure costs while the products go to other centres.
Its members - mostly rural or cities with rural hinterlands - originally included: the City of Ottawa, the City of Hamilton, Municipality of Clarington, Town of Milton, City of Kawartha Lakes, North Dumfries Township, Uxbridge Township, Zorra Township, Caledon and Puslinch Township.
But more municipalities - including Brant -- joined over the past year with the sudden appearance of some controversial applications for licences - particularly a later withdrawn one from The Highland Companies to open a mega-quarry in Melancthon Township in Dufferin County.
It would have served primarily the Greater Toronto Area market to the south but would have seriously affected several rural and small-town municipalities.
Brant's interest in joining TAPMO was piqued partly by an announcement that Dufferin Aggregates intends to go ahead with a 39-year-old licence to open a pit on Watts Pond Road north of Paris.
If it goes ahead, the new pit would force the county to spend millions upgrading roads along designated routes that would take an estimated 150 trucks making 300 trips per day.
Dufferin has committed to paying the cost of upgrading Watts Pond Road from the pit entrance roadway to Pinehurst Road. The county is on the hook for the rest.
The county is still negotiating with Dufferin on the details and costs of the routes. Meanwhile, council has earmarked $2 million in the roads capital budget to get ready.
"Local roads don't have the base needed to support the heavy trucks," said Eddy.
"Our taxpayers will have to pay a huge cost."
By Michael-Allan Marion
Published in the Brantford Expositor, Apr. 11, 2013
- Published on Thursday, 21 March 2013 14:07
- Hits: 98
An editorial posted in the Caledon Enterprise, Thursday March 21, 2013
Re: ‘Recycling aggregates preserves natural resources’, Enterprise letter Jan. 24
A recent letter to you from Moreen Miller of ‘Aggregate Recycling Ontario’ has seriously misinterpreted the article ‘Is Recycling Always a Good Thing?’, and has misrepresented the views of PitSense. We believe Ms. Miller would not wish her credibility, nor that of the various organizations to which she belongs, to suffer from such errors. Nor would you want your readers to be misinformed. To be very clear, PitSense is not “opposing recycling” as she suggests. In fact, as Matthew Strader’s article made quite clear, PitSense is emphatically in favour of aggregate recycling because, as Ms. Miller correctly states, it is an excellent way “to reduce the need for more primary operations”. And PitSense’s statistical research shows that “more primary operations” (i.e. new pits and quarries) are simply not needed. Increased recycling will certainly serve to lessen the need even further.
But the answer to the question posed in the November article is not so “simple”. Recycling is not ‘always’ a good thing. For example, if a recycling operation poses serious risk to the environment, or damages human health, or fails a cost/benefit analysis, then it needs re-thinking.
Ms. Miller’s assertions are understandable when we realize where she is ‘coming from’. She is a very effective lobbyist for the Aggregate Industry. She is a key player in a number of organizations, including the recently established Aggregate Recycling Ontario (ARO), and the Ontario Stone, Sand & Gravel Association (OSSGA). Prior to joining the OSSGA, she was Vice President, Land, Aggregates and Concrete Division for Lafarge, the world’s largest construction materials producer. She is also part of TAPMO (Top Aggregate Producing Municipalities in Ontario), and the fledgling Cornerstone Standards Council (CSC).
I know PitSense is in total agreement with Ms. Miller and ARO when she points out that “many municipalities’ specifications do not allow recycled aggregates to be used in construction projects. Processed properly, these aggregates meet all performance requirements and provide a suitable alternative to primary aggregates”.
The key phrase here is “processed properly”.
It is clear from Matthew’s article that PitSense is simply questioning whether existing pits and quarries, which are designated as an ‘interim land use’, are the proper places for industrial recycling operations.
- Published on Friday, 01 March 2013 07:44
- Hits: 137
I’ve experienced my share of memorable parties over the decades, but the mega-celebration at the hockey arena in Honeywood on Feb. 16 quite possibly takes the cake.
The cause for celebration was the Highland Companies recent withdrawal of its controversial plan to turn thousands of acres of prime farmland (home to Honeywood Loam) into a massive limestone quarry. Essentially, corporations with very deep pockets wanted to dig a very deep hole to fill their shareholders’ equally deep pockets.
One of the organizers (tongue in cheek) thanked the Highland Companies for bringing together so many diverse groups and individuals who otherwise would not have met. Paradoxically, a big-city American hedge fund accidentally built a stronger community in rural Canada and energized an ongoing Food and Water First movement.
The capacity crowd at the party was a reflection of that diversity and that sense of community. Partying together were transplanted urbanites, longtime ruralites, holdout farmers who wouldn’t sell to Highlands, farmers who sold and regretted it, babes-in-arms, local elders, ranchers and Native people; plus representatives from the Council of Canadians, the David Suzuki Foundation, Wellington Water Watchers and journalists and musicians who were not even trying to appear objective.
And this diversity was also reflected in the music, the dancing and the food. In the music department there was everything from square dance reels, to native drumming, to a fresh-faced band called Harlan Pepper playing songs easily three times their age, to Our Lady Peace and a young vocalist named Kirt Godwin who was apparently channelling John Lennon.
Young solo freestylers shared the dance floor with jiving intergenerational unlikely partners and elderly couples waltzing with the kind of synchronization that only comes from decades of dancing together. When a traditional country square dance was followed by a traditional native round dance, the symbolism seemed perfect, with the circular non-linear nature of native cultures juxtaposed with the grid roads and square fields laid out by settlers.
With the local food movement playing such a key role in this struggle, it wasn’t surprising that there was some great food on offer.
Choices ranged from gourmet golden caviar hors-d’œuvres to egg salad sandwiches, both of which I enjoyed equally, with a slight preference (partially sentimental) to the homemade sandwiches set out by the local women around midnight.
As you’d expect, there were speeches and many people to be thanked and lots of applause and cheering. Local rancher and North Dufferin agricultural and community task force chair Carl Cosak delivered the keynote address, dressed in his signature pink cowboy shirt, cowboy hat and oversized belt buckle. One of the more moving moments came when a young teenager, speaking on behalf of the next generation, presented him with a new belt buckle customized with the task force’s logo.
Cosak spoke with great passion about how this battle had surpassed political partisanship, with support from within all three parties, including Red Tory Wellington-Halton Hills MP Mike Chong.
Cosak, ever the showman, got the crowd going by reminding them: “We said we’d send the PR firm back to New York and the hedge fund back to Boston and we did it!”
Native elder Patricia Watts recounted, in reverential terms, traversing the proposed quarry site with Cosak on horseback — a new take on the stereotypical cowboy and Indian scenario — she having never been on a horse and he, having never met native people, expressing his new-found respect for First Nations culture and sensibilities. Watts also drew a parallel to the Idle No More movement, recognizing the importance of not succumbing to colonialism’s classic divide and rule tactic.
University of Guelph agriculturalist and quintessential farm boy Rene Van Acker managed to captivate the crowd (despite the fact that many were in a party mood) with a lecture-style talk about the importance of soil, water, genetic diversity and farm viability. This was a crowd ready to listen before they partied.
Several speakers reminded the receptive audience that victory is a relative term and encouraged them to remain engaged through the task force’s new focus on food and water first, to be vigilant regarding possible next moves by Highlands, lobby to amend the aggregate resources act to fill legislative loop holes you could drive a gravel truck through.
Perhaps my favourite moment was during the party when someone announced that the seventh generation of a holdout farm family was in the room, at which point a baby was held high in the air above the crowd and an audible gasp went through the crowd — perhaps in response to the sheer confidence of a young first-time father hoisting a newborn into the air, but also, I think, in recognition that this was a historic watershed moment and that victories like this are few and far between and need to be savoured and celebrated.
By Dale Hamilton
Dale Hamilton is a member of the Guelph Mercury Community Editorial Board and Playwright for Everybody's Theatre Company
Published in the "Guelph Mercury", Feb. 26, 2013
- Published on Thursday, 14 February 2013 23:10
- Hits: 117
Members and supporters of the North Dufferin Community Agricultural Taskforce will gather this Saturday night in Honeywood to celebrate their victory against the Highland Companies, which withdrew its application to develop a “mega quarry” in Melancthon Township last fall.
But beyond some great local food and a plethora of live music, the night will feature something else as well: the unveiling of a new vision for NDACT, of which the group`s president, Carl Cosack, gave us a sneak preview this week.
“We’ve always seen our task as two-fold,” said Cosack. “Job one was to stop the mega quarry, and now we can tick that off. Job two is to make sure the legislation is changed so that food and water are the first priorities. On that subject, our demand for change is as strong as ever.”
Two pieces of Ontario legislation, the Aggregate Resources Act and the Provincial Policy Statement, have always allowed aggregate extraction to trump agriculture, even on prime agricultural land. Both the ARA and the Policy Statement are currently under review, and for the next 18 months, until Cosack is finished his three-year term as head of NDACT, he intends to fight to make sure that situation is changed.
NDACT’s “Stop the Mega Quarry” signs, which have been visible all over Ontario for the past few years, are gradually being replaced by “Food and Water First” signs, and an upcoming “spring planting,” as Cosack calls it, will soon see many more dotting the landscape.
In addition, NDACT will be approaching businesses and organizations across the province who are involved in agriculture in any way at all and encouraging them to sign a pledge, the wording of which is still in the works, and make their commitment to food and water known in their literature, at their storefronts and on their websites.
Meanwhile, NDACT members will be lobbying politicians and bureaucrats, many of whom have made connections locally during the mega quarry fight, and encouraging them to fight to make sure prime agricultural land and specialty crop areas are made sacrosanct in legislation.
“Food and water need to be prioritized,” said Cosack, noting that he was still working on his exact speech for Saturday night. “Once the foodland is gone, it’s gone, and a society that cannot feed itself cannot claim to be a sovereign society.”
Tickets for Saturday night’s party, at $20, are available at ndact.com.
By Brad Holden
Published in the "Creemore Echo", Feb 14, 2013