It's been nearly a year since public hearings were held into the Aggregate Resources Act. Excellent, thoughtful presentations were made by agricultural stakeholders and mega quarry opponents. The hearings were packed and change was in the air. But, we've learned the Standing Committee on General Government now wants to focus on traffic congestion and auto insurance. Any further delay in reviewing the ARA means a further delay in revising the legislation. Our prime farmland and source water regions remain at risk!
Below is a template letter addressed to the Committee urging its members to finish the job. The e-mail addresses of the Committee MPPs and Chairman are also provided.
Please add your own thoughts/experience/expertise to the letter. Let us know what responses you receive, if any!
Bas Balkissoon, Chairman firstname.lastname@example.org
Donna Cansfield email@example.com
Rick Bartolucci firstname.lastname@example.org
Sarah Campbell email@example.com
Mike Colle firstname.lastname@example.org
Rosario Marchese email@example.com
Laurie Scott firstname.lastname@example.org
Todd Smith email@example.com
Jeff Yurek firstname.lastname@example.org
To the members of the Standing Committee on General Government:
I am writing to urge you to resume the review of the Aggregate Resources Act. This important process was ordered by the government in the fall of 2011 in response to the proposed Highland mega quarry. The application for the largest quarry in Canadian history on the best farmland in Ontario and at the headwaters of five river systems, exposed the many flaws in the outdated ARA. Public hearings were held last spring, yet the job is far from done.
I understand that the Committee is now focusing on auto insurance and traffic congestion. While these are worthy matters to study, the review of the ARA has not yet been completed. Why would the Committee head off in a new direction when there is vital work to be done on the ARA?
As you'll recall, the Committee heard from an array of presenters last spring, including many agricultural stakeholders. Several of those who made submissions were individuals who had never before participated in public hearings. They spent a great amount of time researching and writing their presentations. Their speeches outlined the value of agriculture to Ontario, its importance to our economic health and the well-being of our fellow citizens. All of the agricultural stakeholders stressed that prime farmland is at risk under the ARA. Indeed, at the end of the Toronto hearings, a member of the Committee stated "Clearly, there's an urgency to protect prime farmland."
It is critical that the review of the ARA be completed. Those who participated in the process deserve to have their submissions respected and also reflected in a final report. I urge the Committee to continue its work on the ARA. The interests of a growing number of Ontarians will not be served if the ARA review is further delayed or shelved.