As always thanks to DB for this contribution:
Notes from yesterday's ARA Review Hearing (16-May-2012). This was a more easily digested hearing with 8 presentations over 2 hours.
The gallery was full and for the Stop the Mega-Quarry crowd there was anticipation in the air since Carl Cosack would be wrapping up the day as the last speaker.
The series of presentations was pretty evenly split between the "fors" and "againsts". The MPPs seem to be feeling more at ease with the subject matter as they often opted to comment rather than ask questions.
From my point of view, the aggregate industry is starting to sound pathetic with their "close to market" mantra and their "the royalty is too low, we support a significant increase" pay-off tactic.
Sylvia Jones pointed out that the $0.115 royalty can be increased without amendment to the ARA.
Increasing this fee will not be a victory for Ontarians.
Increasing this fee is merely belated administrative housekeeping. Two presenters to-date have estimated that the fee should be around $1/tonne just to cover costs to road infrastructure.
It makes me wonder what has stopped this fee from being increased on a regular basis? Even my local curling club pays an annual 5% rent increase. How has the industry got away with such a low fee for so long?
The "close to market" policy in the Provincial Policy Statement is rather cyptic today.
It states that as much aggregate as realistically possible shall be made available as close to markets as possible. It is unclear why this policy was added given that normal supply/demand would determine the distance/cost of supply.
Perhaps this policy was added to ensure one locality didn't
exploit another locality's resources before using their own.
Or perhaps it was made to save the government money by keeping transportation cheap.
Whatever the reason, the effect of the policy is to justify aggregate pits on prime farmland and in protected environmental spaces.
Today we have to find a balance.
For me the Ontario Federation of Agriculture said it best when they asked
"What would you rather have: a bumpy road to the supermarket or a smooth road to starvation?"
It pretty much says it all right there.