Good evening, everyone -- It's been an incredible afternoon at Queen's Park as we witnessed what happens when ordinary people speak up for what's right. The Standing Committee on General Government voted unanimously late this afternoon to conduct public hearings across Ontario! (Sound of champagne corks popping!)
It was revealed that nearly 80 individuals and organizations have asked to make presentations next week while there are just 24 slots. Clearly the public pressure and negative press had an influence. The committee voted to start its road trip after June (when the Legislature rises) and visit much of the province.
As well, it plans to tour existing aggregate quarries, proposed quarry sites (Melancthon, here we come!) and sites that are no longer in operation. MPP Sylvia Jones revealed that an invitation from Honeywood had already landed on her desk!
The request for extended hearings on the road goes to the three House Leaders. We were told by one of the committee members that those House Leaders have been discussing extending the hearings and allowing for travel since Monday (when this all blew up.) They meet tomorrow, so there could be confirmation as soon as then.
The two hours of hearings were fascinating. The aggregate industry presentations had obviously been well-prepared in advance.
One company suggested the province follow the lead of the federal government and "streamline" the Environmental Assessment process which did not go over well.
Another representative complained that an aggregate application advanced to a certain stage and then "they dropped the Bobolink on us!" Yet another admitted the industry is self-monitoring but he wants it to stay that way.
Next Monday and Wednesday, the public gets its chance. More details on that later. For now, we chalk up another victory in this remarkable campaign. Thanks everyone. We did it.