Published on Monday, 28 May 2012 14:01
All the government transcripts are now posted.
Active NDACT Member, Donna Baylis, has attended the hearings and has kindly submitted notes summarizing the day's hearings.
Day 1, Mon. May 7, 2012
An excerpt from her notes:
There was a dubious start to the meeting with about 30 minutes of confusion. The Sub Committee report was read with a motion to accept, except Sylvia Jones and Laurie Scott requested amendments; confusion ensued when Michael Coteau attempted to chastise Sylvia Jones for putting out the press release notifying people of the public hearings prior to the official release date (today) and for misleading the public by saying the committee was not prepared to travel. Sylvia made no apologies for notifying her riding and stood against the lack of notice offered by the Sub Committee. General consensus ensued that the Sub Committee agreed to review the dates and possible travel based on community interest. Laurie Scott and Sylvia are both in favour of traveling to communities. John O’Toole wants to add commercial fill operations to the rehabilitation aspect of the review. Rosario Marchese did not rule out travel and is prepared to give more time.
Read Donna's notes of Day 1.
Government transcript of Day 1.
Day 2, Wed. May 9, 2012
Comments from Donna Baylis
The notes for this day may not be complete. There was a lot of information in the industry representative handouts, which were not widely available. I am looking forward to seeing how the Committee determines who to invite to the presentations next week!
Read Notes for Day 2.
Government transcript of Day 2.
Day 3, Mon. May 14, 2012
Comments From Donna Baylis
Notes from yesterday's ARA Review Hearing (14-May-2012). 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, under staffing 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!)
P.S. Again I remind you that these notes are a personal endeavour and taken on a best efforts basis.
Agenda for Day 3, Mon. May 14, 2012
Good lineup of speakers for Day 3!
Read more of Donna's notes from Day 3.
Government transcript of Day 3.
Day 4, Wed. May 16, 2012
Agenda for Day 4, Wed. May 16,2012
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.
Have a good day,
"Close to market is too close to prime farmland", Carl Cosack
P.S. There is still no decision from the House Leaders to continue the ARA Review. Keep sending those e-mails!
Read more of Donna's notes for Day 4.
Government transcript of Day 4.