- Published on Monday, 02 July 2012 22:30
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An open letter to David Orazietti, Chair of the Standing Committee on General Government, Reviewing
the Aggregate Resources Act, from Carl Cosack, Chair NDACT
July 2, 2012
Throughout this Review process, the public participants have been focused on preparing and delivering their presentations and have avoided taking issue with the mechanics of the Review itself. Participants have not made an issue of the short notice given for the initial Presentation Week in Toronto - with clearly more notice given to the Aggregate Industry. We appreciate the extension of the Review process to include key visits to prime sites in Ontario.
Specific actions taken, comments made and conduct by you and your Committee leading up to, during and after the June 27th Orangeville visit might be the turning point which caused people to lose faith in this process, its transparency and its guise of being unbiased. I am deeply concerned that our input to the Review and suggested changes to this outdated piece of policy are not valued, will not be considered and that these “Local Visits” are simply a public relations exercise.
Case in point:
- Your Team had a scheduled tour of four sites accompanied by Maureen Miller of the Ontario Gravel Sand and Stone Association.
- Who organized and approved the tours of the four quarry sites on the morning of June 27th?
- Why wasn't NDACT or the OFA contacted and given a similar opportunity to conduct an on-the-ground tour of farming operations to explain how prime agricultural lands benefit Ontarians and contribute $33-billion to the Provincial economy each year?
- Due to some public pressure, your Team conducted an unescorted “drive by” tour of the proposed Mega Quarry and disrespected some key members of our community, the Armstrongs, who were ready and willing to welcome your Committee, and you left them standing on the side of the road as you drove by!
- Your dismissive response “We know people who know people” to our query as to who guided your “tour” is simply flippant and unacceptable.
After a day filled with creative, well thought out presentations - particularly Dave Vander Zaag’s poignant presentation, it is incumbent upon your committee members to educate themselves on all aspects of the issues that surround Prime Farmland and Source Water Protection.
You are quoted as stating: “We are not here to stop the Mega Quarry”. But it is the deeply flawed Highland Companies Mega Quarry proposal that the current Act permitted to be filed, an Act that has clearly outlived its usefulness. The Highland Companies proposal serves as an ideal case study to highlight the issues in the Act that the Review Report should address to ensure that a project like the Highland Companies proposal will never be proposed again.
As Chair of this Review, you should lead and inspire your Committee and should serve as much more than a time keeper. Minister Gravelle, who thinks enough of you to appoint you Chair of this most important Review committee, expects more – as do we the people of Ontario. Your work will have a long legacy. It is incumbent upon you to lead your team, perform your duties, educate yourselves in a way that leaves no stone unturned, pun intended, and is above reproach.
As Chair, you have much work ahead of you, to bring integrity and transparency back into this Review process, and bring it to an outcome that all future governments, whatever their political stripe, will use in order to better serve Ontarians.