Stop preferential treatment of aggregate industry

Residents of Ontario continue to raise concerns about the special treatment given to the aggregate industry, yet these concerns are not being addressed in government policy decisions. The recent review of the Aggregate Resources Act did not adequately recognize the concerns raised by the public and impacted local communities.

The special, preferential treatment of the aggregate industry needs to stop. Key pieces of environmental protection legislation include an “exception” clause for the aggregate industry. Big business interests should not take priority over the health, safety and quality of life of rural Ontarians, the environment and prime farmland.

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What about the water?

Some interesting facts and figures present themselves along the Food and Water pathway. We know a lot about about food producing land and it being a non-renewable resource. It is different getting agreement of issues of water as it presents its own puzzles. It flows, it evaporates, it disappears, and can be almost impossible to track.

Water is a fundamental necessity, and clean water should  be an assumption. In fact, any drilling into the water table should be carefully regulated and monitored with the proponent providing evidence of due caution.

There is currently drilling underway to install transmission towers in our County, and some of its activity is taking place on old rail beds (long known to contain contaminants) and through manure piles. The Walkerton tragedy has taught us what is at stake. With all we know, why is this being allowed?

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By Shirley Boxem
Published in the Orangeville Banner, Food & Water First column, August 5, 2014.

NDACT calls for united front on Food and Water First

The North Dufferin Agricultural and Community Task Force (NDACT) held its annual general meeting for approximately 40 members on July 10th in Horning’s Mills. Carl Cosack Chair of the taskforce brought members up to date on NDACT activities from the past year, stressing the need for a continued, united front on the Food and Water First mandate to protect prime farmland and source water. Shirley Boxem, Vice Chair spoke to the members about the urgency in “keeping this issue at the forefront, as the legislative rules have not changed and the very same mega quarry application could be applied for today.”

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Mega-Quarry Peer Review

Should anyone be surprised?

Recently, a peer review study of the Melancthon mega-quarry was released. Commissioned by the Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority in response to the application by The Highland Companies to blast a huge hole into the prime farmland of Melancthon Township, the report by SLR Consulting (Canada) Ltd. would likely have remained unread, in a dead-file cabinet somewhere, if not for the efforts of someone (I know not who) in the NVCA.

With the application withdrawn by The Highland Companies, there would not seem to be any reason to release this report.  Some would say that there would little to gain.

The truth is, there are some huge reasons for the release and understanding by the public of this report. The report results, and the lessons to be learned, should be known by all those concerned about the stewardship of our farmland, and all those involved in the massive effort to stop this travesty.

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The County Plan

The GTA West Corridor plan advances and is now in Stage 2, which means that the general areas for a pair of new divided highways has been chosen.

The area is the rural part of Caledon Township.  The Caledon and Peel Councils are opposed to any major highways through prime agricultural land.  I understand that the Ontario government is adamant, though receptive to “consultations.”

In April a professor of the University of Guelph spoke to a “Food and Water First” meeting, the members of which aim to preserve agricultural land for agriculture rather than development, gravel pits, etc.

According to “In The Hills” magazine, Professor Rene van Acker showed that no new workable land is available or can be produced by man, that human life is totally dependent on food and water and that, therefore, agricultural land is far too valuable to be wasted on housing developments, highways, gravel pits, etc.

Southern Ontario contains over half of the arable land in Canada.

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