It was an exhausting 16 presentations over 4 hours. There was a lot of information. It became clear to me that the MPPs rarely ask questions that they don't know the answer to, and that they use their question as an opportunity to go on the record. It also became clear that the Committee is just starting to understand the magnitude of the problems around aggregate, and that such understanding contradicts their mandate of recommending quick fixes.
Some quick fixes are easy to pick out: a substantial increase to the aggregate royalty (currently $0.115 per tonne), encouragement to increase the use of recycled aggregate product, greater focus on rehabilitation. However, the more difficult problems (protection of specific land types, protection of source water, long-term transportation into the GTA, full cost accounting, compensation for all impacted municipalities (i.e. roads), rehabilitation, understaffing at the MNR for inspection and monitoring, MNR's predisposition toward industry, etc.) will not be so easily solved.
The star for me was Bill Hill, Mayor of Melancthon who came out firmly against the proposed mega-quarry with these words:
“In closing, I would like to suggest that those that support the concept of a mega quarry take a short drive up the road to our Township. I will personally introduce you to the multi-generational farmers who are concerned and worried for their future and livelihood as they have not sold out. I will introduce you to the business owners who have seen their business decline because they may deal with one side or the other of the quarry issue. I will show you where 30 homesteads once stood that have been torn down to make room for the quarry. I will introduce you to Women’s Institute Members who have challenges rounding up support and pies for their long standing “strawberry suppers”. All this, before a shovel has hit the ground. It is easy for some to support a concept that will not impact them or their Community.” Bill Hill, Mayor of Melancthon in a letter to the Standing Committee on General Government (May 14, 2012)
As at the end of the meeting last night, the Standing Committee had not yet received an answer from their request to the House Leaders to travel to Ontario's communities for further investigation. (Time to write more e-mails!)
Thank you DB!!