ARA Review - CBC Radio Interview

It seems the review of the Aggregate Resources Act is at a critical juncture. Public hearings were held last spring and terrific presentations were made by agricultural organizations and individuals including Carl Cosack, Dave Vander Zaag, Donna Baylis, Christina Wigle, Ron Lehman and others. However, the Standing Committee on General Government that's reviewing the ARA was disbanded over the summer and then everything effectively died with prorogation. 


   We learned from several people today that the review may be in some trouble. An MPP on the newly re-established Committee says "games are being played." Committee MPPs from all three parties are deciding which issues to study going forward. It appears the NDP is interested in Auto Insurance, the Conservatives in Traffic Congestion and the Liberals, who are in the minority, say they want to revive the ARA issue. Carl Cosack, Dave Vander Zaag and I met with an NDP MPP at Queen's Park today and received a slightly different version of these events, but it's clear there's a chance the review of the ARA could be pushed far down the list and, possibly, not completed. 


  Much hard work was put into all of the presentations made last spring. Dozens of people, who had never engaged in the political process before, participated in or attended the hearings in good faith, believing a comprehensive and transparent review of outdated aggregate legislation would be conducted. We believe this must happen so that the ARA is updated to reflect the growing concerns about farmland preservation, water resources and food security. 


  There are steps we're going to take to ensure the ARA review is completed and that a report is issued by the Standing Committee. We'll need your help and wizardry at the keyboard! People power works and we'll make it work for us again. But, this can wait until after the Easter  break. 


 We're also looking into possible amendments to the new Local Food Act, and changes to the Provincial Policy Statement which sets guidelines on land-use planning. MPPs from all three parties will be contacted as we push for Food&Water First. 


 There was a great boost to the campaign today. NDACT's Carl Cosack was interviewed on CBC Radio's "Here and Now" about the Local Food Act and the need to protect prime farmland. Too bad the CBC audience couldn't see his cowboy hat on the radio! 


By Donna Tranquada

March 26, 2013