Party Responses to Questions Regarding Aggregates

PitSense posed a series of questions to all four Dufferin Caledon candidates and requested responses by June 6, 2014.

The questions and answers follow. Please note that the Green Party candidate was the only one to respond.

If elected, what will you do to influence government policy regarding aggregate extraction to ensure that environmental and community impacts are given much greater importance in determining whether or not applications for aggregate extraction licences are granted?

Response from PC incumbent MPP - no response

Response from Liberal candidate - no response

Response from NDP candidate - no response

Response from Green Party candidate - Our environment and communities do not have a champion to protect them from the adverse effects associated with aggregate extraction. I want to be that champion.

·             There are a few key policies we need to correct in order to address the inequalities inherent in the approvals process.

·             The first hurdle is the "no need to show need." Aggregate is being consumed heavily in this province and being sold off at "rock bottom" prices.

·             This policy has to change.

·             The Green Party, in its platform, has acknowledged the need to increase levies on aggregates.

·             The second policy revolved around the "close to market" requirement. Certainly pollution can be reduced by limiting transit but this is not the only solution. This policy is used to excuse the destruction of many rural communities who happen to lie adjacent or near to major urban centres.

·             Third, the "interim use" definition. Until we are adequately rehabilitating aggregate mines at a rate comparable to approvals being given, this policy is not necessarily reflective of the true nature of these operations.

·             To better enable local decision-making, the Green Party is advocating for the overhaul of the Ontario Municipal Board. Citizens should not have to fear bankruptcy in order to stand up to protect their homes and their environment.

·             Air quality and water protections are other key aspects of the approval of operations that does not receive adequate attention.


Can farmland save urban renewal?

In 1973,Oregon State passed a law to protect farmland and they drew a circle around every town and city in order to curtail urban sprawl. This was at the height of suburbamania when "new towns" were spreading like spilt milk across North America, from Levittown and Irvine in the U.S. to our homegrown Meadowvale and Erin Mills in Mississauga. In 1973, Erin Mills was 8,000 acres of sprawling, pastoral farmland and today it's 8,000 acres of cookie-cutter homes and a labyrinth of malls that shopaholics can't navigate in a week. So what have we learned about the clash between rural and urban land value? Not much.

Forty years of hindsight has yet to foster much foresight as most planners and politicians remain wedded to an economic model in which urban growth competes with rural interests. They still think we need to trade pristine farmland for big box stores and herds of McMansions – not to mention a mega-incinerator – in order to increase urban conveniences and tax revenue. But as Jane Jacobs explained in her 1970 book, The Economy of Cities, growth comes from diversity, not endless suburbs, strip malls and industrial parks.

Towns like Port Hope and Cobourg should reexamine the myth of growing out and start growing up (no pun intended) by thinking like Portland, Oregon did 40 years ago: preserve agricultural land, increase height and density within current boundaries and invest heavily in downtowns as people places. It requires a different vision, even if it’s 40 years late.

In the 19th and early 20th century, small towns grew out of rich agricultural heartlands and shared a symbiotic relationship of value and respect. But by the 1950s, towns were weaning themselves off the respect for land and starting to worship the gods of materialism and property taxes. The promise of easy revenue and jobs turned many town councils and planners into land-for-money prostitutes as they ignored the long-term balance and value of the rural-urban relationship. The growing out became a hollowing out as downtowns deteriorated and the land was paved with asphalt, as far as a politician’s eye could see.

If Jane Jacobs and Oregon were so prescient in the 1970s why was Mike Harris so shortsighted in the 1990s? Because Harris’s not-so-common-sense-revolution was based on cost efficiencies through forced consolidation and amalgamation, but Oregon's common sense was rooted in long-term cost savings and balanced growth through rural and urban collaboration. And it has been worth it. They recognized that rural land contributes to urban living and is a primary reason why urbanites live next to rural settings where they have access to Nature’s rolling parkland and local farmers supplying local stores, markets and restaurants.

This inherent value should never be paved over or over taxed to the point that rural and urban citizens become divided and the latter are left living in hollowed out towns. Why would any Northumberland politician consider converting more farmland to commercial use without first investigating if there isn’t a better way to renew and grow a town? Why not visit Oregon to learn how to save farmland and towns versus visit Poland to see how to burn garbage for money?

It’s election time in Ontario and that’s an opportunity. More citizens need to get involved before our irreplaceable rural assets are gone and our urbanites move to greener pastures. Port Hope is reviewing its Official Plan and, like Cobourg, trying to save and revitalize its downtown. So why not challenge candidates to get Ontario to do what Oregon’s governor did 40 years ago and have the farmlands help renew the towns rather than the towns degrade the farmlands? It might not be too late.

By David Hughes
Posted on Northumberland Today, May 15, 2014

Ontario Farmland Trust Pushes Parties On Farmland Preservation


The Ontario Farmland Trust is welcoming a move by the provincial Liberals and calling on the other provincial party leaders to follow suit.

The Liberals unveiled their ‘Farms Forever’ program this week, describing it as an enhanced and collaborative approach to farmland protection.

The Ontario Farmland Trust says it formally recognizes farmland protection as a key issue in the province.

Now the Trust wants the other party leaders to speak to how their election platforms address protection of farmland.

The Liberal program includes offering willing farmers tax advantages or other incentives to protect their farms with easements.

Those easements would prevent future non-agricultural developments on that land.

Easements are a part of the Ontario Farmland Trust’s own Farmland Forever campaign to protect agricultural land.

By Ray Baynton
Posted on BlackburnNews, May 22, 2014

Wynne Introduces Farms Forever Program to Gain Rural Support

Wynne visits farm to talk about support for agriculture

PARIS, Ont. -- Premier Kathleen Wynne donned a pair of Liberal red rubber boots Tuesday to visit a farm in one of the party's few rural ridings, announcing support for the agriculture industry if they're re-elected.

Wynne said she would introduce a $40-million-a-year fund over 10 years to support the food processing industry, which she said would help farmers buy machinery and equipment.

"We know that if we can partner with businesses and make sure that they have the support that they need and that they can grow and that they can market their products we know that we can grow the food processing and the agri-food industry generally in the province," she said in Paris, Ont., in Liberal Dave Levac's Brant riding.

The money would come from a $2.5-billion "jobs and prosperity" fund aimed at providing government grants to businesses, which was part of the Liberal budget that failed to pass.

Many of the province's rural ridings are held by Progressive Conservatives, but Wynne suggested funding for the agriculture sector isn't just about those seats.

"Yes, it's in an election campaign and of course we are all campaigning, but whether my political career ... is advanced by doing this or not, it is absolutely important to the future of this province that we have a strong agriculture and food industry," she said.

Wynne admitted last year during her bid to become Liberal leader that the government's popularity has suffered in rural Ontario, partly over industrial wind turbines.

Wynne's own seat is a Toronto riding, but the premier also took the post of minister of agriculture and food. When asked about trying to shed a downtown Toronto image, Wynne married urban and rural with a personal anecdote about her grandmother who grew up on a farm and didn't have money to go to university.

"If kids who grow up on farms want to go to university and then come back I want the government to be there for them to help them do that," she said. "That's not about being a rural kid, it's not about being an urban kid. That's about being a kid who wants to have opportunity. That's what our government is about."

Wynne also spoke about a Liberal "farms forever" program, which would be aimed at protecting agricultural land close to urban centres.

"We recognize that preserving farmland is a very important part of our responsibility and that's what the farms forever program would be about," she said.

"The other thing that I have heard as minister of agriculture and food is the need for support for young farmers who want to get into farming, either to be able to buy their family's land or to be able to break into farming even if they haven't been part of a farm family."

Under the program, a landowner could request an easement to prevent non-agricultural development from taking place on the land even if it is sold.

Progressive Conservative Vic Fedeli, whose riding is in northern Ontario, waited outside the farm Wynne visited to criticize the Liberal platform, which he suggested is not costed out, though he didn't offer specific criticisms of the agriculture fund.

"When you're making an agricultural announcement that involves funding you're basing it on funding you don't have," he said. Fedeli scoffed at the notion that the Tories are in danger of losing rural ridings.

"I don't think the Liberals are making gains in rural Ontario whatsoever."

Ontario voters go to the polls June 12.

Posted on CTV News website May 20, 2014

We can’t eat subdivisions, quarries, highways or pipelines

Challenge all Political Parties to put Food & Water First

Orangeville -- Mike Schreiner, leader of the Green Party of Ontario, has challenged the leaders of Ontario’s other parties to sign the Food and Water First Pledge.

“We can’t eat subdivisions, quarries, highways, or pipelines,” says Schreiner. “Aggregates just aren’t very nutritious.”

Schreiner, who grew up on a farm, was an early champion of the local food movement. He was the first political leader in Ontario to speak out against the Melancthon Mega Quarry.

“It breaks my heart to see the Ontario government fail to protect prime farmland. 350 acres of farmland a day bulldozed or paved over. It’s an unforgivable loss of such a vital resource.”

Losing farmland not only threatens our ability to feed ourselves, it also jeopardizes our economy. The food and farming sector employs over 700,000 people, contributes over $30 billion to Ontario’s economy and is essential to our quality of life.

“My top priority is to put food and water first,” says Karen Wallace, GPO candidate in Dufferin-Caledon. “I’m running to protect prime farmland and source water regions.”

While Queen’s Park sits on its hands, citizens have taken action to protect food and water. Schreiner is the first and only provincial party leader to sign the Food and Water First pledge to permanently protect Ontario’s class 1 farmland and source water regions.

“After all the hard work of citizens like Karen to stop the Mega Quarry, it is unacceptable that there is no legislation to prevent the another mega quarry from threatening our farmland and water,” says Schreiner.

Posted on
May 14, 2014