Peer Review of Greer’s Application

In November 2019, I filed a request under the Municipal Freedom of Information and Privacy Act to receive a copy of the following records:

Records pertaining to the Peer Review of Mr. Paul Greer’s Application for an Official Plan Amendment and Zoning By-law Amendment, further to his application for a license to operate a pit on Ridge Road, PEC. I am specifically wanting copies of any records relating to the RFP (or equivalent instrument) to conduct the Peer Review; WSP’s response to the RFP, the evaluation of submissions and the selection of WSP, draft and final contract with WSP, any progress reports, correspondence between the County, WSP, Mr. Greer or his agents.

In response, the municipality has provided the following:

Holding Court is a monument to cultural genocide

In 2010, a small group in Prince Edward County conceived The Macdonald Project to celebrate the two hundredth anniversary of Sir John A. Macdonald’s birth, in 2015. The Project’s centrepiece was Holding Court – a bronze statue commemorating the nineteen year old Macdonald’s first trial before a judge and jury in the Picton Courthouse in October 1834.

In 2010, many Canadians were unaware of Macdonald’s culpability for a campaign of cultural genocide waged against Indigenous peoples. So, the Project might be excused initially for its decision to honour this man.

By 2015, however, Macdonald’s legacy was becoming more fully known, thanks to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada and studies like James Daschuk’s Clearing the Plains: Disease, politics of starvation, and the loss of Aboriginal life.

By June and July 2015, Commentary and Letters to the Editor in The Picton Gazette were already speaking of the long road ahead for Canadians who wished “to make amends … after such betrayals” and suggesting that the meaning and implications of installing a statue of Macdonald Holding Court on Picton Main Street needed to be considered in a broader historical context.

The Project’s answers to these concerns in 2015 amounted to minimizing the underlying issues and denying outright the most serious allegation against Macdonald: that he was personally responsible for designing and waging a campaign of cultural genocide against Indigenous peoples.

First, The Macdonald Project arranged for the unveiling of Holding Court‘ to include one speaker’s acknowledging that Macdonald’s Canada was far from perfect:

… Now, we know today – and we are painfully aware of this – that our 1867 Constitution was far from perfect. And, in particular, we realize, that from our founding to the present day, we have failed to accord our Aboriginal brothers and sisters the place and the respect they deserve as First Canadians. (Applause) Some of the things said by Sir John A., and some of the things he did, are certainly part of that problem. But, as a wise judge has said, “It is the nature of injustice, that we may not always see it in our times.” Today, we acknowledge past wrongs, but our focus must be that the positive side of Sir John A. Macdonald’s constitutional vision becomes a reality for us all.

Excerpt from a recording of the remarks of Justice Sharpe, beginning at about 00:10:33.

Sharpe’s admission that Indigenous peoples have not been accorded “the place and the respect they deserve” skirted the issue of Macdonald’s cultural genocide entirely. We also cringe to hear First Nations called “First Canadians” and resent being told that we – including Indigenous peoples, presumably – need to focus less on past injustice and more on “the positive side of Sir John A. Macdonald’s constitutional vision.” Through Sharpe’s remarks, the Project clearly aligned itself with what’s known as the “Indians should just get over it” point of view.

And yet, let’s credit the Project for saying at least something about the controversy surrounding Macdonald at the unveiling of Holding Court. In contrast, a recording of the ceremony shows that no one from the municipal government – neither Mayor Robert Quaiff nor any other elected official who was present, including then-Councillor and Chair of the County’s Historical Society, Steve Ferguson – made any effort to acknowledge Macdonald’s “past wrongs” that day.

For denying the most serious charge against Macdonald – that he had committed cultural genocide against Indigenous peoples – The Macdonald Project turned to its good friend, Toronto Star columnist and amateur historian, Richard Gwyn. During a promotional tour in November 2011 for his latest book Nation-Maker: Sir John A. Macdonald: His Life, Our Times, Gwyn had made a number of public appearances in Picton and had become an early celebrity-supporter of The Macdonald Project.

In promoting sales of his book, Gwyn was earning a reputation as Macdonald’s fiercest apologist. One time, Macdonald ‘s critic was simply another paid opinion-writer, like Gwyn himself:

Another time, Macdonald’s critic was the Chief Justice of Canada’s Supreme Court:

Gwyn’s perspective on Macdonald is especially relevant to understanding the thinking and underlying values of The Macdonald Project – in 2015 and up to the present.

First, The Macdonald Project’s website (under Education) still links to Gwyn’s defense of Macdonald, including his patronizing dismissal of Chief Justice McLachlin and her acceptance of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s conclusion that Macdonald was guilty of cultural genocide against Indigenous peoples.

Second, Ruth Abernathy – the artist whom The Macdonald Project commissioned to sculpt “Holding Court” – credits Gwyn for most all of whatever understanding of Macdonald she brought to the work:

Author Richard Gwyn produced an illuminating two-volume biography on John A. Macdonald just prior to my sculpting of John A.’s distinctive face. I declared to Richard that, true to Canadian politics, his books “were so boring I couldn’t put them down!” They were ideal background reading …

I began carving young Macdonald despite inflamed public discourse about the upcoming “birthday boy”.

In classic Canadian fashion, celebrating an elected leader was unduly difficult. Macdonald’s nineteenth-century choices were not deemed politically correct today and the contemporary press seemed to focus on the historic “errors”. There was little mention of his nineteenth-century accomplishments, yet Macdonald’s continual re-election suggested that his ideas were shared and supported by the electorate. …

I’d learned a great deal about Macdonald through Holding Court, and even more about the complexities of celebrating Canada’s elected leaders.

Ruth Abernathy, Life and bronze: A sculptor’s journal (2017), pp. 107 – 111.

Abernathy shares not only Gwyn’s perspective on Macdonald, but his bemusement at all the fuss about Macdonald as well. In fact, she confidently predicts that the “often vitriolic public discourse over John A.’s habits and his nineteenth-century decisions” will soon be as “difficult to comprehend [as] aggravation across the nation over that red maple leaf [flag] that we now wholeheartedly embrace.” [p. 177]

In considering what’s to be done with Holding Court now, it’s fair for us to take account of the initial and continuing motivations and sentiments of its originators. It’s also fair for us to ask the Mayor and Members of Council to share their thoughts and feelings about Holding Court. Their predecessors were silent in 2015 – a repeat performance isn’t good enough.

CSGW Presentation to SCGG – 20191121

STANDING COMMITTEE ON GENERAL GOVERNMENT

Thursday 21 November 2019

Better for People, Smarter for Business Act, 2019.

Citizens for Safe Ground Water

The Chair (Ms. Goldie Ghamari): Before we call our final presenter, I just want to thank all members for their co-operation today and for maintaining decorum. We have one more presenter ready to go, and I would ask all members to keep their conversations to a whisper all around the table. If I can hear you, then everyone can hear you, and it’s a distraction. So let’s respect each other’s time and get through this last presentation. Thank you very much.

I’d now like to call upon Citizens for Safe Ground Water: Mr. Rory Farnan. When you are ready, please state your name for Hansard, and then you may begin. You will have 10 minutes for your presentation.

1400

Mr. Rory Farnan: Great. My name is Rory Farnan and I am the secretary for Citizens for Safe Ground Water.

Good afternoon, honorable members, and thank you for the opportunity to speak with you today, even though I may sound like a bit of a broken record at 2 o’clock in the afternoon.

Also, a special acknowledgement to MPP Harris, who represents my riding of Kitchener-Conestoga at Queen’s Park, and Mr. Schreiner and Madam Fife, who represent the neighbouring ridings of Guelph and Waterloo.

Like most of you sitting across from me today, I have spent most of my life living in an urban setting. Issues like roads, sidewalks, urban infrastructure: These were topics that affected me the most. However, four years ago my wife and I moved from suburban Waterloo to rural Wilmot township, and have started our family there. Living in the township has brought a new perspective on challenges that communities face, and although some challenges completely differ from each other, one thing has remained the same: the need to protect our drinking water.

My name is Rory Farnan and, again, I am the secretary for Citizens for Safe Ground Water. I am here today to outline a few of our concerns relating to aggregate policy in Ontario which affect communities big and small. But first, please allow me to take a few moments to explain how I got to be standing—or sitting—in front of you today.

A member of our local Optimist board of directors, I was approached by a woman named Michelle back in April. Michelle was coming back from her daily run. On her run that day, she noticed a woman in the distance sitting on her porch. As Michelle got closer to the home, the woman started running towards her. They chatted about an upcoming gravel pit application for a property located on the same road, and the woman handed her a piece of paper inviting her to a neighbourhood meeting. Michelle asked me if I had any experience with gravel pits and whether I would be interested in attending the meeting. I attended and, as the old saying goes, the rest is history.

They say all politics is local, which couldn’t be further from the truth today.

Citizens for Safe Ground Water is probably the truest form of grassroots organization that I have ever been a part of. It started as a small neighbourhood meeting at a local rod and gun club, to being in front of you today commenting on Bill 132.

I would suggest to you that our group is not opposed to aggregate extraction, but is a group that is pro-water. We are a group that sees not only the micro issues of the gravel pit application that is in front of us today in Wilmot but the macro issues that it presents to an entire region in the long term. We have presented in front of our township and regional councils, supporting their concerns to the proposed changes that your committee is obtaining feedback on today.

First and foremost, our number one concern is our municipal water supply. For an economy to grow and prosper, it is paramount that our water is protected. Without it, communities don’t nourish or flourish. The gravel pit application that I referenced earlier, which includes a used asphalt and concrete recycling area, is being proposed within a source water recharge protection area from which municipal wellheads draw water.

The region of Waterloo is heavily reliant on groundwater, water from the Waterloo moraine, drawing underground water via approximately 100 wellheads. Two wellheads that feed from this water recharge area represent close to 7% of the region’s integrated water system. As such, it is the recommendation of the Citizens for Safe Ground Water that any aggregate activity be restricted to areas that are outside of a designated source water protection area.

Second, which also relates to water supply, are the cumulative impacts of aggregate extraction on the environment and the affected water tables below. The gravel pit location before Wilmot township will be situated in the immediate area of several existing pits, including Lafarge, Coco Paving, Steed and Evans, Dino Trucking and the township. The risks that are being presented by adding another gravel pit in an area that is already aggregate intense, with the added sensitivity of groundwater recharge, is unknown. It is our understanding that, to date, there have not been any comprehensive studies conducted to understand the impacts of intense aggregate activity within a certain region and what effects it poses on water resources.

With that, it is the recommendation of Citizens for Safe Ground Water that the provincial government, in collaboration with each local municipality, conduct a comprehensive study on the impact of intense micro aggregate production activities on local water resources.

Third is our concern about aggregate rehabilitation. In a recent study conducted by the region of Waterloo, a miniscule 20% of land excavated for aggregate production has undergone rehabilitation. That is just not acceptable, and poses permanent destruction of significant natural features and ecosystems. In the case of the gravel pit application before us in Wilmot, the applicant has suggested that after decades of peeling away protective layers of sand and gravel, which are used as a filtration system before hitting the water table, they will return the property to its previous state of agricultural use. But let’s be honest with ourselves: How can we be convinced that (a) it will be rehabilitated as planned, given the statistics in front of us today; and (b) what will be used to fill the pit to restore it back to agriculture, with the necessary ingredients required to filter from contaminants in the future?

The Chair (Ms. Goldie Ghamari): You have three minutes left.

Mr. Rory Farnan: As such, Citizens for Safe Ground Water propose that the provincial government conduct a comprehensive review of existing aggregate licences to determine what can be done to improve the success rate of rehabilitation, and consider revisiting existing pit agreements that remain dormant from rehabilitation, especially those that are owned by applicants who want to submit future development applications. As North Dumfries Mayor Sue Foxton recently commented to the CBC, aggregate extraction is like chopping a leg off; it doesn’t grow back.

Fourth: It is our understanding from the government’s position that there is a growing need for aggregate to facilitate the province’s growth. One of the things that we have learned in this process is that gravel pit operators can essentially sit on a property once it has been licensed, with no benchmarks in place to dictate the amount of aggregate it must produce to the market versus the amount of aggregate extraction it has been approved for. Across the road from the applicant’s proposed gravel pit in Wilmot is an extremely large property—I believe almost 400 acres—that is owned by Lafarge. Most of that property remains untouched, with no current extraction taking place or plans for extraction in the immediate future.

As such, Citizens for Safe Ground Water recommends to the province a full-scale audit of all active gravel pit licences to determine the current running capacity of extraction. Why continue to approve new applications if existing applications are not operating at optimal capacity to meet demand?

The Chair (Ms. Goldie Ghamari): You have one minute left.

Mr. Rory Farnan: This should be considered low-hanging fruit, for the government to make more aggregate available today, versus waiting years for new applications to lift off the ground.

Fifth is related to haulage routes that affect the traffic safety and ongoing road maintenance costs within our municipalities. Large-sized, heavy-scaled trucks are a danger to neighbouring residents, businesses and roadways that neighbour a gravel pit. Again, pointing to the application before us in Wilmot, it is estimated that up to 34 trucks an hour could travel on Witmer Road, which is a small township road that the pit will use to haul aggregate out of and used asphalt and concrete into. It is a narrow road with no shoulders, no guardrails, peaks and valleys, and hidden driveways. It is on a school bus route and is used by runners, cyclists and pedestrians alike.

With that, it is the recommendation of Citizens for Safe Ground Water that municipalities continue to have jurisdiction as it relates to haul route approvals, and that comprehensive road standards are enacted for primary haul routes.

1410

The Chair (Ms. Goldie Ghamari): Thank you very much. That’s the time that I have for your presentation.

Mr. Rory Farnan: Okay. I have a sixth, which would only take a minute, if you would—

The Chair (Ms. Goldie Ghamari): You would have to—

Mr. Ian Arthur: We’re going to give him a minute of our time.

The Chair (Ms. Goldie Ghamari): Okay. You’re giving him how much of the time?

Mr. Ian Arthur: As much as he needs.

The Chair (Ms. Goldie Ghamari): Okay. All right. If you can just give me one moment, please.

Mr. Rory Farnan: I only need one minute for—

The Chair (Ms. Goldie Ghamari): Okay, that’s fine. I have to make sure, with the timing. Okay, you may continue.

Mr. Rory Farnan: Yes. Thank you.

Interjection.

Mr. Mike Harris: Rory, we’ll cede a minute of our time—

Mr. Rory Farnan: I appreciate it. Thank you. Again, my apologies. It’s a very hard thing. Madam Redman only gave me three minutes at the regional meeting, and I barely pulled it off.

Mr. Mike Harris: You get more than she did. Remember that.

Mr. Rory Farnan: The minute I saved for her, if you’d give it to me, I’d thank you.

Interjections.

The Chair (Ms. Goldie Ghamari): Sorry. So you’re going to give one minute of your time?

Mr. Mike Harris: We’ll give him one minute of our time, yes.

The Chair (Ms. Goldie Ghamari): Okay.

Mr. Rory Farnan: Thank you, honourable member. I appreciate that.

The sixth is the protection of our agricultural lands. The property of the proposed gravel pit sits within the region of Waterloo’s protected countryside, and it is designated as prime agricultural, with the municipality’s official plan designating the site as agricultural. In 2015, farms in Waterloo region generated $563.6 million in revenue, which is an increase of $90.7 million from 2010.

With that in mind, it is the recommendation of the Citizens for Safe Ground Water that the provincial government recognize the strategic designations set forth by local municipalities as they relate to the protections of our agriculture resources and the economy that benefits from it financially.

Each municipality is different, choosing what they feel is important to make them unique from others.

The Chair (Ms. Goldie Ghamari): It has been a minute.

Mr. Rory Farnan: Fair enough.

The Chair (Ms. Goldie Ghamari): If you’d still like to—

Mr. Rory Farnan: No, that’s great.

The Chair (Ms. Goldie Ghamari): Okay. MPP Harris.

Mr. Mike Harris: Rory, it’s great to see you.

Mr. Rory Farnan: Thanks. It’s good to you again, yes.

Mr. Mike Harris: We’ve obviously had a chance to chat. It was actually a front porch chat, which was kind of fun too.

Mr. Rory Farnan: That’s right, yes.

Mr. Mike Harris: We came out to Sam’s house.

Mr. Rory Farnan: The same porch.

Mr. Mike Harris: The same porch. There you go. I figured it might be.

There are a few things that you brought up today. Obviously, you’re speaking of a very specific application that’s currently going forward.

Mr. Rory Farnan: I am, yes.

Mr. Mike Harris: I’m obviously very well aware of that application and a lot of the different nuances to it. It actually just came in—I think it was last week, or about a week and a half ago that we’ve finally seen what the plan is there.

Mr. Rory Farnan: Correct.

Mr. Mike Harris: I want to just speak a little bit broader, obviously, because I don’t think it’s fair to the committee to be speaking just about one specific project.

Mr. Rory Farnan: Understood.

Mr. Mike Harris: I think some of the things that we talked about when we were there chatting were looking at better ways to go forward—it’s the end of the day—

Mr. Rory Farnan: Yes, I understand. I appreciate what you guys are going through.

Mr. Mike Harris: —and looking at ways that we can reduce burdensome red tape, reduce duplication—I know that was one of the things that we talked about—

Mr. Rory Farnan: Yes.

Mr. Mike Harris: —but while still maintaining fairly stringent environmental regulations.

Mr. Rory Farnan: Sure.

Mr. Mike Harris: One thing that I have brought up a couple of times today, and I want to bring it up again because I know this is something that you’re keen on, is that, currently, there is no mechanism for a concerned citizen like yourself to be able to bring an application, such as the one that we have in Shingletown, and be an official objector to that application and bring that to the LPAT. There’s no mechanism in place to do that.

With the regulation we’re looking at putting forward in this bill, it would give you the opportunity to be able to do that and be an official objector and be able to send that application to be reviewed by a third party, which would include all the hydrology studies, all the geological studies and all of the feedback that would come from the municipality, which again is the one that has to initially zone said property to be able to have aggregate extracted on it.

Mr. Rory Farnan: Sure.

Mr. Mike Harris: There are some new mechanisms we’re putting in place to give people, and citizens just like yourself, and the other folks who are part of your organization an opportunity to do that. Are you supportive of a move like that?

Mr. Rory Farnan: Without seeing the fine print of it, yes, I would be supportive of anything that would encourage public engagement, although, again, I would caution that any application that would be put forth that would be sitting on top of a source-water protection area—

Mr. Mike Harris: And of course all of those things would be taken into account through the evaluation process?

Mr. Rory Farnan: Absolutely, yes. I’m struggling with the word “protection” and what the definition of that really means, but yes. I would support any public engagement that would be brought forth.

Mr. Mike Harris: Very good. Thanks.

Mr. Rory Farnan: Thank you. I appreciate your time.

Mr. Mike Harris: That’s all for us, Chair.

The Chair (Ms. Goldie Ghamari): Thank you very much.

We’ll now turn to the official opposition. You have 10 minutes. MPP Stevens, you may begin.

Mrs. Jennifer (Jennie) Stevens: Thank you for coming on behalf of the Citizens for Safe Ground Water. I think that the first part of your group name, “citizens,” is what we should all be looking forward to at a provincial level, as well as not ignoring the municipal level.

Mr. Rory Farnan: Thank you.

Mrs. Jennifer (Jennie) Stevens: You mentioned the municipal official plan and the detection of agricultural lands. Can you elaborate on that? That was basically your last point, and I found that very interesting, that you feel that this bill will actually affect the official plans of your municipality.

Mr. Rory Farnan: Well, quite potentially. The municipality, in an effort to protect rural properties, has made official designations that put, at least in our particular case, this property in a protected countryside area, in a prime agricultural space. Realizing that this area of the region brings a half-billion dollars to the economy, they obviously want to see it protected and nourished.

When you see a 20% increase in revenue over a five-year period and a municipality that is also trying to protect urban sprawl—which is something Waterloo region, I believe, has been a leader in, as well—I think it talks to several key issues. They’ve decided that it’s strategic for them to have this portion of land or this region as agricultural and not subjected to other types of operation like aggregate extraction.

Mrs. Jennifer (Jennie) Stevens: Just one other thing: In St. Catharines we have an aggregate pit that has started. The previous speaker mentioned the right to restrict the depth of aggregate extraction, and right now within the city of St. Catharines we have one. We didn’t have that guideline of depth, and the contractor actually hit below and hit the water table, which has now caused almost a natural ponding. Do you feel that that could happen? And if that does happen within your municipality, how would that affect your drinking water or your water table?

Mr. Rory Farnan: Particularly to the application that we’re reviewing today, it is my understanding that there’s only a metre and a half, I believe, between the lowest excavation point and the water table.

Now, that being said, I’m not a scientist—probably the gentleman with the beautiful shirt that I might ask to borrow for Friday night might better explain—but water tables are not straight. Water tables flow. They flow in different directions. They flow at different heights. That happens in the spring, that happens in the fall, and so to put maybe six or seven feelers out in a 200-acre property and suggest that an entire property is going to flow based on those six wellheads, whatever this gentleman has put in, or future applicants—I don’t believe that that’s a true reflection.

We talked about the cumulative effects, too, of what happens when you have a half-dozen pits within a two-block radius of each other. What happens when the sixth one comes into the water table at that point? We don’t know. We don’t have those studies.

From our perspective, at least in Waterloo region, what happens when things get breached, and they’ve been breached before—these two wells, in particular, when you look at them, provide approximately 7% of the integrated water system. Seven per cent doesn’t sound like a lot for two wellheads; when there’s 100 of them, it’s pretty significant. You’re essentially getting rid of, I think, a valuable portion of what has contributed to the overall drinking water supply and general municipal water supply.

1420

I haven’t even touched upon private wells in the area. There was a recent article in the New Hamburg Independent—I’m sure you probably saw that this week, honourable member, but essentially it’s two members of the community who use their private well for their business. What happens to private well contamination and to the businesses that are located within that area?

We talk about drinking water for the region. We’re a growing region; we rely on water. We, obviously with global warming, will rely on water even more, but even just the people who are in the immediate area, whether it be nurseries or farming, cattle feed—different sectors within that area could be affected through their private wells. That is one thing that the region doesn’t spend a lot of time on, because they’re obviously focused on the regional wells, not private wells. So we definitely have some concern about private well contamination, as well.

Mrs. Jennifer (Jennie) Stevens: Okay. Thank you.

Mr. Rory Farnan: Thank you.

The Chair (Ms. Goldie Ghamari): MPP Fife?

Ms. Catherine Fife: Just quickly: Thank you, Rory, and I hope that the public meeting that you’re going to have on—November 26, is it?

Mr. Rory Farnan: I believe, yes.

Ms. Catherine Fife: I hope it’s well attended. I know that I’ve been receiving phone calls about this. I think it comes down to risk, right? And is it worth it? I know that there’s a feeling out there, “This is on a farmer’s property. It’s his property. It’s 200 acres. It’s his farm.” But at the end of the day, you also have to weigh in public interest and public health, and that decision will have an impact on the entire region.

That is why we didn’t want the repeal of the Local Planning Appeal Support Centre Act to be part of this. We think that citizens deserve to have tools and mechanisms by which they can actually be actively involved in planning decisions like this, but also that local municipalities are that direct link with the citizens that they serve. We want to make sure, and we’re going to try to change this as this act moves forward, that municipalities don’t lose that power.

Mr. Rory Farnan: Yes, that’s very important.

Ms. Catherine Fife: It’s very important. I just want to wish you well on the 26th.

Mr. Rory Farnan: Thank you.

Ms. Catherine Fife: It’s the timing of what’s going to happen with the Hallman pit in Wilmot township and the timing of this bill—it’s like a perfect storm. It will test whether or not this government truly understands that this is a huge risk for the well-being—and the economy, as you pointed out—for the people of Wilmot.

Mr. Rory Farnan: We’ve made it quite clear: We’re not anti-aggregate extraction. We realize that—where else are you going to get it? You have to get it from the ground. But there are certain areas, like you say, when you want to talk about calculated risk, that should just be a no-brainer. Protected source water recharge areas: You can’t produce those once they’re contaminated.

Ms. Catherine Fife: I think your quote, that you’re not anti-aggregate; you’re pro-water—that is the message that you’ve come to this government with and to this committee with.

Mr. Rory Farnan: Yes. There are lots of places to do aggregate in, so I appreciate it.

The Chair (Ms. Goldie Ghamari): You have one minute left. MPP Arthur.

Mr. Ian Arthur: It’s not so much a question as just a thank you for coming here today and sharing your story. Groups like yours continue to play such a vital role. When we look at water resources across Ontario—I asked a question last week about the residents of Tottenham, who have trihalomethanes in their water that’s contaminated. We have many, many boil-water advisories, continuing the troubles in Essex county with water. We need groups like yours continuing to advocate for safe water. I get why you don’t trust the government to do it well. They haven’t so far, on many, many cases.

Mr. Rory Farnan: We’re pretty grateful, I think, living in Waterloo region, that we have a pretty progressive municipal government that has put a lot of safeguards in place not only for drinking water but for protected countryside and prime agriculture. It’s my understanding that the region of Waterloo has made recommendations to the provincial government in that regard.

The Chair (Ms. Goldie Ghamari): Thank you very much. That’s the time that we have for the official opposition.

Last but not least, turning to the leader of the Green Party, the independent Green member: You will have two minutes. You may begin.

Mr. Mike Schreiner: Thank you, Rory, for your presentation. I really appreciate it.

MPP Smith mentioned my private member’s bill, which I am happy to say would address many of the concerns you presented today—though I’ll apologize to you; it applies to the Paris Galt moraine. But if my colleagues would like to amend it, I’d consider it a friendly amendment to apply it to the Waterloo region moraine. We all can work together on that.

Mr. Rory Farnan: There’s no reason why it shouldn’t.

Interjection: We’re all in it together.

Mr. Mike Schreiner: We’re all in this together, Rory.

Mr. Rory Farnan: To be quite frank, sir, the two are neighbours, so don’t think for one moment that not protecting one moraine with a neighbouring moraine beside it is not going to have an adverse effect over that. I appreciate what you’re doing and would love to see that extended. It sounded like maybe everyone would be in agreeance to that today.

Mr. Mike Schreiner: Let’s hope so, Rory.

Mr. Rory Farnan: If we get that in Hansard, that would be terrific.

Mr. Mike Schreiner: There’s limited time here. In Wilmot township, farming is very important. The municipality’s designated land is protected farmland. Are you worried that Bill 132 could supersede the municipality’s ability to put those kinds of protections in place?

Mr. Rory Farnan: My understanding, from a lot of things that I’ve learned over the last couple of months, is that aggregate is either not mentioned or exempt from many aspects of legislation that we have. So, yes, anything that doesn’t strengthen or deny extraction within a source water protected area, in my mind, is something that’s a missed opportunity.

Mr. Mike Schreiner: Great. That’s a good way to close, Rory. Thank you.

The Chair (Ms. Goldie Ghamari): Thank you very much. This concludes our business for today. You may step down.

Mr. Rory Farnan: Thank you for your time.

CAMQ Presentation to SCGG – 20191122

STANDING COMMITTEE ON GENERAL GOVERNMENT

Friday 22 November 2019

Citizens Against Melrose Quarry

The committee met at 0900 in the Holiday Inn Peterborough-Waterfront, Peterborough.

Better for People, Smarter for Business Act, 2019

Consideration of the following bill:

Bill 132, An Act to reduce burdens on people and businesses by enacting, amending and repealing various Acts and revoking various Regulations.

The Chair (Ms. Goldie Ghamari): Good morning, everyone. The Standing Committee on General Government will now come to order. We are here today for public hearings on Bill 132, An Act to reduce burdens on people and businesses by enacting, amending and repealing various Acts and revoking various Regulations.

Citizens Against Melrose Quarry

The Chair (Ms. Goldie Ghamari): I will now call upon Citizens Against Melrose Quarry to please come forward. Pursuant to the order of the House dated November 7, 2019, you will have up to 10 minutes for your presentation, followed by 20 minutes for questioning, with eight minutes allotted to the government, 10 minutes allotted to the official opposition and two minutes allotted to the Green Party independent member. Please state your name for Hansard, and you may begin.

Ms. Sue Munro: Good morning. My name is Susan Munro. Thank you for providing this opportunity to speak to you today. I am addressing schedule 16, which includes the bill’s proposed amendments to the Aggregate Resources Act.

I am the chair of Citizens Against Melrose Quarry, CAMQ. We are a community not-for-profit organization in Tyendinaga township, Hastings county, represented by Mr. Daryl Kramp. I do not come to you as a lawyer or as a professional bearing credentials to review aggregate operations. I am an RN. CAMQ members come from all walks of life.

We were formed in the spring of 2013 by citizens who felt their long-standing concerns about the proposed Melrose quarry were not being heard. Opposition began in 2004, when residents first objected to the plan being brought forth for official plan amendment to add a second quarry adjacent to the existing Long’s quarry.

In December 2010, prior to the approval of the OPA, the proponent submitted an application for an ARA class A, category 2 licence, below the water table. In early 2011, residents responded with formal opposition to the then-MNR. Nine years later, this application is now coming under review at LPAT: MM180027. I believe you all got the handout, did you? Okay, thank you.

Fifteen years, and residents’ fears have not been addressed.

Our group promotes responsible, equitable and sustainable resource use. Tyendinaga is primarily zoned agricultural and rural residential. Our community, like many others in Ontario, relies on groundwater to meet domestic, commercial and agricultural needs, as we have no municipal water supply. This is a community that falls outside the scope of protections by the Clean Water Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act.

The aquifer in the area around the quarry is classified as highly vulnerable. To date, there has been no study to review the cumulative impact. Since 2004, there have been multiple new home builds. There is also a recreation centre and a public school in the vicinity that rely on well water. Our nearest municipal water supply, should an untoward event happen, is 20 kilometres away in Belleville.

On March 2, 2017, Danielle Emon and I, on behalf of CAMQ, made a submission on Bill 39, Aggregate Resources and Mining Modernization Act. Our presentation is still available on the standing committee transcripts. Our requests were simple, and we were thrilled when the committee was able to act on one of them: that section 12(1)(e) be amended to specify that there shall be regard to any possible effects on ground and surface water, including “drinking water” sources. This was a change from “municipal water.”

Some 18% of Ontario’s total population relies on private wells, with their water being excluded, as noted, from source protection plans. We are painfully aware that much of the responsibility for well maintenance falls to owners. Government-initiated actions such as aggregate extraction below the water table pose increased risk to these well owners, and stewardship must lie beyond the control of the individual property owner and in the hands of government and the proponent. Contingency planning for what to do when something happens is not precautionary.

Other points we addressed in 2017 are still relevant. We need to improve openness and transparency within our ministry, and better cross-communication. All legislation supporting sustainable use of water needs to be structured to protect rural water supply as well as municipal.

The MNRF must consider other ministries’ requirements and non-compliance records when evaluating aggregate licences for approval. When assessing cumulative impacts on groundwater, please consider large-volume water-taking and residential needs, coupled with research on climate change.

We ask that for an ARA application, you consider that the aquifer can continue to tolerate a broad range of uses, with limited abilities to recharge, and we want to know how pumping billions of litres of water affects highly vulnerable, weak-recharge environments. We ask that ARA licences be time limited.

I also want to address the funding. We know that there is an ability to go to LPAT should we not agree with a decision; however, that costs mega dollars for a community and is cost-prohibitive. We are suggesting that when the MNRF refers an application to LPAT, that it be funded. Our suggestion is that you collect one cent per tonne from the aggregate industry to fund that ability for citizens to have their voices heard.

CAMQ made a submission this month to the ER notice regarding proposed changes to the ARA. We note the intent of the new act to strengthen rural water by a more robust application process. We suggest that you do this by tying the permit to take water and the licence together. This would time-limit the ARA and would consider impacts to aggregate extraction both within and below the water table. We also noted the intent to streamline compliance reporting; again, we believe these two should be tied.

Why does CAMQ believe the aggregate licence should be time limited and tied to the permit to take water? Here is our example, and we know this type of situation is happening all across Ontario. We doubt, however, that this scenario was discussed at your summit last spring.

In 2005, Long’s Quarry was denied a permit to take water by the then MOE. The operator continued to pump water for six years before the Ministry of Natural Resources found out. Apparently, there was no communication between the two ministries. When they were discovered, around the time the application for the adjacent Melrose was submitted, the MOE ordered that the non-compliance be investigated.

The proponent had not kept records, meaning that there was no proof that more than 50,000 litres of water had been pumped from the aquifer. There was no penalty. However, to bring the operator into compliance, the ministry issued a permit for more than one million litres a day. To me, that’s quite a change, from not needing 50,000 to bringing them into compliance with one million litres per day. That was followed by a one-year permit to take water.

That became the subject of an ERT—Environmental Review Tribunal—hearing in 2015, launched by CAMQ with the support of the Canadian Environmental Law Association. It was paid for by cookie baking, community funds and private donations. As a result of the 2015 recommendations, the subsequent permit to take water provided language for low water conditions, i.e. drought. In the very first year, the proponent violated those terms. We addressed it; the ministry discussed it with him. After a second violation, an investigation was launched by the MECP. To date, we have not heard of a penalty. This is unacceptable.

There are several other non-compliances with this operator, both with the MECP and the MNRF. We learned that information is kept in a silo effect. Cross-communication between these two ministries is essential, and having a time-limited ARA licence tied to the permit to take water is straightforward, cuts red tape and affords ordinary citizens protection.

Finally, climate change provides yet another reason for the permit to take water and the ARA licence to be tied. A new licence for aggregate may allow for continued extraction and billions of litres of water pumped annually for upwards of 100 years. Is it reasonable to predict the future health of a vulnerable aquifer for generations to come based on today’s conditions? We believe there should be a moratorium on all new licences until you, our government, get a better handle on this situation.

0910

Other agencies will come before you and address Bill 132, schedule 16, in a much more eloquent way. However, on behalf of this rural community in eastern Ontario, I respectfully have two requests:

—that the ARA licences be time limited and tied to the permit to take water; and

—that annual compliance reporting be combined with the aggregate licence and the permit to take water for improved communication between the Ministry of Natural Resources and the MECP.

Again, thank you for allowing me to address you today on behalf of Citizens Against Melrose Quarry.

The Chair (Ms. Goldie Ghamari): Thank you very much for your presentation.

This round of questions will begin with the official opposition. MPP Fife.

Ms. Catherine Fife: Ms. Munro, I have to say, you were pretty eloquent in your presentation. The paper that you presented is well researched. You have excellent references that support all of your claims.

We heard yesterday from other groups who are at the beginning of their journey, so it’s pretty discouraging to hear that you’ve been working so long. I’m sure that it has been a test of your resources and your patience, and you quite rightly point out that it should not come to that. But Bill 132 and the proposed changes by the PC government will not solve the problem. Do you agree with that?

Ms. Sue Munro: I’m coming before you as totally non-partisan, because in our group, with CAMQ, I have members who come from every political party, and I want to depoliticize this. I agree that, as the act stands, it does not address the concerns of rural citizens.

Ms. Catherine Fife: That’s all I want to say. I don’t want to get into the partisanship. But if we’re looking to solve the problem, which is what this committee is tasked with, and to try to change this bill and make it actionable and responsive to the very issues that you’ve raised, there are a few things that have to change that are in the schedules.

You’ve pointed out that your efforts have been funded by bake sales and fundraising. The government is repealing the Local Planning Appeal Support Centre, which was brought in in 2017 to help groups like yours because there was a great sense of frustration, under the former government, that groups needed support to navigate all of these appeal processes, and not every group can lawyer up. They’re repealing this, which we don’t support because we think there’s a power imbalance that I’m sure you’ve come up against over and over again.

The other—

Ms. Sue Munro: May I just speak to that briefly?

Ms. Catherine Fife: Yes, of course.

Ms. Sue Munro: I came before the standing committee, as I noted, in 2017, with the then Liberal government. My concern at that time was that that office might be a start to help navigate but that doesn’t answer the problem. When you go before an LPAT, you need $100,000 in your pocket. How are you going to get that? Yes, it’s nice to have that office to help navigate—and I agree it maybe shouldn’t be taken away—but that isn’t enough, and I argued that before. What we need is for the aggregate resource industry to pony up. We would not be going to an LPAT had they been able to resolve the differences with the community. We would not be in this position had they not put us there. So rather than getting into the “individual person up against” and getting into all the biases, I firmly believe that one cent per tonne goes into a contingency thing—I would ask that this government start right away with maybe $1 million, or pick a figure, to put in a contingency fund to start, so that when your ministry, as a government, refers this to an LPAT, we’re not left behind the eight ball.

Ms. Catherine Fife: But you wouldn’t even need to get to that point if the government followed through on one of your recommendations to have ARA licences be time limited. What do you think the aggregate community would think about that, Ms. Munro?

Ms. Sue Munro: I think the aggregate community will have a problem with that, because it’s realistic and it needs to happen.

I’ve given you a good example of how things fall through the cracks. This is going into 2020. The acts go back to the 1970s—in 50 years, with climate change—a lot of things have happened. It’s time for the tail to stop wagging the dog and look at what’s happening with the citizens.

Ms. Catherine Fife: Yes. But just to go back to my point: Bill 132, though, would not address that power imbalance between aggregate companies and citizen groups.

Yesterday, on the Hallman pit, a group that’s just starting this process, they made the point of saying that they’re not anti-aggregate; they’re pro-water. I think that was a very powerful statement, because you have communities that are genuinely concerned—in rural communities where they have private wells but also aquifers—that the risk is not worth compromising the water table, and Bill 132 would still allow aggregate companies to go underneath the water table.

I’m going to pass it on to my colleague here. Thank you very much for your time, Ms. Munro.

The Chair (Ms. Goldie Ghamari): MPP Arthur.

Mr. Ian Arthur: Good morning. Thank you so much for coming into the committee this morning and making the trip up from Tyendinaga. I’m from Kingston so I drive through your community every week.

You touched a little bit on the siloing that has happened between MNRF and the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks. Can you also touch on the interactions—you mentioned your local MPP was Daryl Kramp. You’ve travelled all the way up to Peterborough, which isn’t too far, but is a bit of a trip to come before this committee, and this is the first bill that we’ve had an opportunity to actually travel and hear from citizens across Ontario. Would you describe a little bit your interactions with your own MPP and if you feel that there are adequate avenues in place for these concerns to be addressed?

Ms. Sue Munro: Well, I’ll be honest. I haven’t talked to Daryl Kramp. But way back, since this has been going on for so long, I did talk to Todd Smith and in those days—I don’t want to belabour this committee because this has to do with the aggregate.

But you have to know that the official plan for this was put on the table—the public meeting was May 2004. People objected. Hastings county sent it through to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing without any supporting documents. That fall, the ministry wrote Hastings county back and said, “It’s beyond the 48-day process. We suggest you repeal this motion”—I have the emails to support all that—they did not.

So seven and a half years later—now remember, this is before Internet and all that—in comes the proponent with the consultant reports; we’re now talking 2009, which they still are currently outdated, but that’s what we’re dealing with.

Hastings county sent it through to the ministry in those days and they started the process, but they never had a second public meeting. Those people who went there were well recorded, that they were there and they were interested. Not one of those people was notified that this was back on the table.

The official plan was passed without any citizens knowing that it happened. The next thing we knew was when this aggregate—we said, “Well, how did that happen?” Seven and a half years is a long time for somebody to follow whether something’s going to go through, and I don’t know why it wasn’t revoked, but this is where I go with silos all the way along, not in one place.

Right now, we’re before an LPAT, and I don’t want to get into the details of that because it hasn’t come forward yet, but one of the things that the proponent’s lawyer wants taken off the table is compliance. He doesn’t want us to talk about compliance. Well, you’ve heard about this—anyway; sorry. I don’t know if that answers you or not.

Mr. Ian Arthur: Yes. Sorry. They don’t want compliance to be part of the discussion?

Ms. Sue Munro: No, on our issues list, one of the things they wanted off the list was compliance. We are arguing it. I don’t want to get into that specific case. I want to speak for rural Ontario, and this is the kind of stuff that we’re going through. And I’m going back to your comment about aggregate being important. Well, you know what? Skunks are important, too. Skunks are very important, but when they show up at the garden party and don’t behave, you don’t want them there, right?

Mr. Ian Arthur: Thank you, Sue. Jennie, do you have anything?

Mrs. Jennifer (Jennie) Stevens: Absolutely nothing, but thank you for coming today.

The Chair (Ms. Goldie Ghamari): You have one minute left. No further questions?

Mr. Ian Arthur: No further questions for now.

The Chair (Ms. Goldie Ghamari): Thank you.

We’ll now turn to the independent Green Party member, you have two minutes.

0920

Mr. Mike Schreiner: Thank you, Ms. Munro, for coming in. I’ve met with so many citizens’ groups going through what you’re going through, and I know how hard it is.

Regardless of the particulars around the removal of the Local Planning Appeal Support Centre for citizens, would you agree that some sort of support centre and, even more importantly, a fund for that centre to assist citizens’ groups, is essential to democracy and also to your ability to speak out your concerns?

Ms. Sue Munro: I did contact that centre. However, we were before it, because I’m going back—I predate that. We have had the advantage of the Canadian Environmental Law Association. I don’t know whether any of you here know how high that bar is to actually get their involvement.

Mr. Mike Schreiner: Very high.

Ms. Sue Munro: It’s very, very high, and it has to be a very vulnerable aquifer. Nonetheless, we’re still fighting and baking cookies and having yard sales.

The short answer to your question is, anything is a help, but it’s not enough.

Mr. Mike Schreiner: I agree. Also, one of the concerns is that this bill takes away municipalities’ ability around land use planning and aggregates, and water protection and aggregates. The government at times has said that rural communities don’t have the resources at the municipal level to do that. Would you agree with that statement?

Ms. Sue Munro: I think there has to be municipal input into what goes on in your own municipal community, but I also believe that there needs to be provincial oversight.

Mr. Mike Schreiner: So we need both.

Ms. Sue Munro: You need both.

Mr. Mike Schreiner: Great. Thank you.

The Chair (Ms. Goldie Ghamari): We’ll now turn to the government. We’ll begin with MPP Harris.

Mr. Mike Harris: Thank you, Ms. Munro. It’s nice to meet you. I know we had a couple of minutes to quickly chat before committee resumed this morning.

Obviously, with your specific application being before the LPAT right now, I don’t want to get into too much about that.

Ms. Sue Munro: No, I can’t.

Mr. Mike Harris: I can’t either, as the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry.

But there are a couple of things that you brought up that I wanted to address. One of those things was that siloing effect. This is one thing that myself—and I’ve got the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of the Environment sitting right beside me today—we’re really trying hard to break down some of the barriers that have been put up over the last 15 years within these ministries.

Our ministry works very closely, and our minister works also very closely, with the Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks. Rest assured that there is communication going on, and that we’re trying to rebuild those bridges and break down those silos, so that there is better communication.

I think that’s one of the things that our government is really trying to do when we talk about red tape. Obviously, what this bill is all about is being able to streamline some of those things where you don’t need to have redundant duplications between ministries; where you don’t have to try to force that communication and you’re able to just have that openly and freely; and where, instead of having to deal with two, three or four different ministries, and you’re getting that broken telephone game going on, we’re able to do that within one ministry or two, and be able to have those streamlining effects.

So, rest assured, that is happening, and it is something that we take very seriously.

Again, I don’t want to get into too many specifics about your specific issue, obviously, with the Melrose quarry. But there are a couple of things within this bill that we’re really trying to actually strengthen: what’s happening when it comes to environmental assessments, when it comes to vertical zoning and when it comes to applications below the water table.

You obviously come from an area where you don’t have a lot of municipal oversight. It definitely is important that we have the province involved in what is happening with vertical zoning, because there is a disparity across the province. You have areas—I said this yesterday—that do aggregate very well; you have some areas that, unfortunately, don’t.

Municipal input is still part of the environmental assessment process. You now have a mechanism to be an official objector under these regulations. Whether you’re a citizen and/or the municipality, you’ll now have a mechanism to take this to the LPAT, where you wouldn’t have had that before. I know it can be expensive to do that, to be an official objector to an application. That was not a mechanism beforehand. It would have to be launched by, usually, the company, the aggregate operator. If their application wasn’t successful, they would then take it to the LPAT. So you’ll now—

Ms. Sue Munro: Excuse me. I’m going to stop you there.

Mr. Mike Harris: Sure.

Ms. Sue Munro: I’ve been dealing with this for quite some time, and I went back through, prior to this government, and asked how to get this brought forward. Citizens could bring this forward, and I was a registered objector back in 2011. So I won’t argue with you, but I’d ask you to maybe research that.

Mr. Mike Harris: With the vertical zoning piece I’m talking about—

Ms. Sue Munro: Oh, the vertical zoning piece, okay. Pardon me. I thought you were talking about the LPAT application.

Mr. Mike Harris: No, I mean the vertical zoning.

There’s one thing that I am interested in hearing a bit more about. When you’re talking about this contingency fund, tell me a bit more about how you would like to see something like that set up. This is why we are here. We are here to look at making possible amendments.

Ms. Sue Munro: And I appreciate all of you coming. So there are two things. The two ministries are together. I believe the aggregate licence in those need to be tied together so that when you go to get a permit to take water, you’re going to review the licence at the same time. Time-limit both of them and get them together.

To speak to it, there are a couple of different ways that I would suggest that you could look at the LPAT intervenor funding. We all know that no government wants to open up another budget line. Right? None of you want to open up another budget line. So why are not the ones that are creating the issue paying a cent per tonne? I don’t have a plan, but I’d love to sit down with government agencies if you decided to do this, and I’d work right along with you to say, “Here’s one cent per tonne. You’re going to put it into this contingency fund.”

Then when I get this, as I did from the Minister of Natural Resources, to say—we did not appeal Tyendinaga’s decision, because the OPA had already been done behind our back, and Tyendinaga was merely following what Hastings county had done. You know, take your head on a brick wall and stop slamming it—so we said okay. The next thing we get is we’re taking it—the issues have not been resolved. The Ministry of Natural Resources, in March 2018, referred this to—it was the OMB in those days; it got switched, as we know. I was an original objector. I can go and speak to it, and I will.

I also worked with a community group to have CELA get participant status, which is great because now we have a lawyer. I don’t have $100,000 to fight an aggregate industry. I don’t have it.

Mr. Mike Harris: Do you think that could be something that could be rolled into the municipality levy? I’m just talking about the collection of the fees, just to sort of streamline things and make things easier.

Ms. Sue Munro: I think it’s quite honestly better delivered by the province. I think that that’s a provincial thing, because municipalities—and I’m not going into detail with it—particularly in rural ones, you’re going to have patchwork all across the province. You’re going to have this municipality that believes this—we need that provincial oversight by you people, who say—

Mr. Mike Harris: And again that goes back to my earlier comment about some municipalities do things really well and some, unfortunately, don’t.

Ms. Sue Munro: Some don’t. So my recommendation—I would be happy to sit with you—is to charge them one cent per tonne. Put it into whatever kind of fund; you choose the name. And I’d even go so far as to say, okay, if you want community groups to be serious, because you don’t want frivolous stuff—right?

Mr. Mike Harris: Sure.

Ms. Sue Munro: If it’s been referred by the ministry to it—I don’t know, maybe 75% funded? I don’t mind baking $25,000 worth of cookies, and yard sales; I don’t mind soliciting the community—

The Chair (Ms. Goldie Ghamari): You have one minute left.

Mr. Mike Harris: It’s funny that you brought that up because my wife just baked some cookies for a thing that’s happening at our son’s school, and they sold out like that.

Anyway, that’s it for us. Thank you very much. I appreciate you being here.

The Chair (Ms. Goldie Ghamari): Thank you. Further questions? No. All right.

Thank you very much for your presentation and your time. You may step down.

Bill 132 & the Aggregate Resources Act

We begin with information contained within the Notice of Proposed amendments to the Aggregate Resources Act.

Proposal summary

Changes are proposed to the Aggregate Resources Act to reduce burdens for business while maintaining strong protection for the environment and managing impacts to communities.

Proposal details

Aggregate Resources Act

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) is responsible for managing Ontario’s aggregate resources, regulated under the Aggregate Resources Act (ARA). Aggregate resources are non-renewable resources like sand, gravel and rock that are needed for infrastructure that supports the quality of life that Ontarians enjoy today. They are used to construct the buildings we live and work in, the roads, the airports and subways we use to get from place to place, and for many other necessary services like sewers and power generating stations. Most of the aggregate produced in Ontario comes from private land in the southern region of the province where most Ontarians live.

Ontario requires a continued supply of aggregate resources. Approximately 160 million tonnes of aggregate are needed in Ontario each year. Yet, it is equally important to manage and minimize the impact extraction operations may have on the environment and on the communities that surround them. These operations are located across our diverse province, and the regulatory framework that manages them must be fair and predictable and flexible enough to be effective.

In March of 2019, the Ministry hosted an Aggregates Summit. The Summit was an opportunity for industry, municipal and Indigenous leaders to share their ideas for cutting red tape, creating jobs and promoting environmental stewardship and economic growth within the aggregate industry. We also gathered further input through an online survey, ending May 31.

Key themes heard:

  • reducing duplication, inefficiency, and inconsistency in application and approval processes
  • improving access to aggregate resources
  • protecting agricultural lands and water resources
  • enhancing rehabilitation
  • continue public engagement and outreach on any proposed changes to the ARA framework.

As a result of this input, the Ministry is proposing changes to the aggregate resources framework to reduce burdens for business while also ensuring the environment is protected and Ontarians continue to have an opportunity to participate in processes that may impact them.

Summary of proposed changes

We are proposing to make amendments to the Aggregate Resources Act, while continuing to ensure operators are meeting high standards for aggregate extraction, that would:

  • strengthen protection of water resources by creating a more robust application process for existing operators that want to expand to extract aggregate within the water table, allowing for increased public engagement on applications that may impact water resources. This would allow municipalities and others to officially object to an application and provide the opportunity to have their concerns heard by the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal.
  • clarify that depth of extraction of pits and quarries is managed under the Aggregate Resources Act and that duplicative municipal zoning by-laws relating to the depth of aggregate extraction would not apply
  • clarify the application of municipal zoning on Crown land does not apply to aggregate extraction
  • clarify how haul routes are considered under the Aggregate Resources Act so that the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal and the Minister, when making a decision about issuing or refusing a licence, cannot impose conditions requiring agreements between municipalities and aggregate producers regarding aggregate haulage. This change is proposed to apply to all applications in progress where a decision by the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal or the Minister has not yet been made. Municipalities and aggregate producers may continue to enter into agreements on a voluntary basis.
  • improve access to aggregates in adjacent municipal road allowances through a simpler application process (i.e. amendment vs a new application) for an existing license holder, if supported by the municipality
  • provide more flexibility for regulations to permit self-filing of routine site plan amendments, as long as regulatory conditions are met.

We are also considering some regulatory changes, including:

  • enhanced reporting on rehabilitation by requiring more context and detail on where, when and how rehabilitation is or has been undertaken.
  • allowing operators to self-file changes to existing site plans for some routine activities, subject to conditions set out in regulation. For example, re-location of some structures or fencing, as long as setbacks are respected
  • allowing some low-risk activities to occur without a licence if conditions specified in regulation are followed. For example, extraction of small amounts of aggregate if material is for personal use and does not leave the property
  • clarifying requirements for site plan amendment applications
  • streamlining compliance reporting requirements, while maintaining the annual requirement
  • reviewing application requirements for new sites, including notification and consultation requirements

While no changes to aggregates fees are being proposed at this time, the Ministry is also interested in hearing your feedback on this matter.

We are committed to consult further on more specific details related to the regulatory proposals, including any proposed changes to aggregate fees at a later date.

Public consultation opportunities

Ontario Government’s Summit on Aggregate Reform (March 2019):

  • provided an opportunity for industry, municipal and Indigenous leaders to share their ideas for cutting red tape, creating jobs and promoting economic growth within the aggregate industry
  • input was also received via email and through an online survey, which closed May 31, 2019. A total of 378 aggregate reform comments were received from the following groups:
    • Members of the public
    • Industry, industry associations, consultants
    • Municipalities, municipal associations
    • Non-governmental organizations (NGOs)
    • Academia, and
    • Indigenous communities

For ease of reference, we have extracted those sections of Bill 132 that pertain to the Aggregate Resources Act:

SCHEDULE 16
Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry

Aggregate Resources Act

Various amendments are made to the Aggregate Resources Act, including the following:

   1.  In considering whether a licence for a pit or quarry under the Act should be issued or refused, the Minister or Local Planning Appeal Tribunal cannot have regard to ongoing maintenance and repairs to address road degradation that may result from proposed truck traffic to and from the site.

   2.  New provisions provide for the following specified provisions in zoning by-laws to be inoperative:

           i.  restrictions on the depth of extraction in specified circumstances, and

          ii.  prohibitions against a site being used for the making, establishment or operation of pits and quarries where the surface rights are the property of the Crown.

   3.  Several amendments relating to licences and permits are made.  Some of these amendments were enacted as part of Schedule 1 to the Aggregate Resources and Mining Modernization Act, 2017 but not proclaimed into force; these are reproduced in the Schedule in order to allow for them to come into force on the day the Better for People, Smarter for Business Act, 2019 receives Royal Assent.

   4.  New provisions are included to address the process for dealing with the following circumstances in which changes to a licence or permit are desired:

           i.  where a licensee wishes to lower the depth of extraction from above the water table to below the water table, and

          ii.  where a licensee or permittee wishes to expand the boundaries of the area subject to a licence or permit into an adjacent road allowance.

SCHEDULE 16
Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry

Aggregate Resources Act

1 Subsection 6.1 (9) of the Aggregate Resources Act is repealed and the following substituted:

Posting report

(9)  After submitting the report to the Minister, the Trust shall post the report on a publicly accessible website.

2 Section 12 of the Act is amended by adding the following subsections:

Exception

(1.1)  Despite clause (1) (h), the Minister or the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal shall not have regard toroad degradationongoing maintenance and repairs to address road degradation that may result from proposed truck traffic to and from the site.

Same

(1.2)  Subsection (1.1) applies to an application in respect of which no decision has been made by the Minister or the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal, as the case may be, on or before the day section 2 of Schedule 16 to the Better for People, Smarter for Business Act, 2019 comes into force.

3 Section 12.1 of the Act is amended by adding the following subsection:

Exception

(1.1)  If a zoning by-law prohibits a site in a part of Ontario designated under subsection 5 (2) from being used for the making, establishment or operation of pits and quarries, any restriction contained in the zoning by-law with respect to the depth of extraction at the site is inoperative.

4 Section 12.2 of the Act is repealed and the following substituted:

Conditions of licence

12.2  Upon issuing a licence, the Minister may attach such conditions to the licence as he or she considers necessary.

5 (1)  Subsections 13 (1) to (3) of the Act are repealed and the following substituted:

Amendment to licence

Amendment by Minister

(1)  The Minister may at any time add a condition to a licence, rescind or vary a condition of a licence or amend a licence in any other way.

Application by licensee

(2)  A licensee may apply to the Minister at any time to have a condition added to the licence, to have a condition of the licence rescinded or varied or to have the licence amended in any other way.

Notice of amendment by Minister

(3)  If the Minister proposes to amend a licence under subsection (1), he or she shall forthwith serve notice of the proposal, including reasons,

  (a)  on the licensee; and

  (b)  if, in the opinion of the Minister, the matter is of importance and it is appropriate to do so, on the clerk of each municipality in which the site is located.

(2)  Subsections 13 (1) to (3) of the Act, as re-enacted by subsection (1), are repealed and the following substituted:

Amendment to licence and site plans

Amendment by Minister

(1)  The Minister may at any time,

  (a)  add a condition to a licence, rescind or vary a condition of a licence or amend a licence in any other way; or

  (b)  require a licensee to amend the site plan or to submit a new site plan.

Application by licensee

(2)  A licensee may apply to the Minister at any time,

  (a)  to have a condition added to the licence, to have a condition of the licence rescinded or varied or to have the licence amended in any other way; or

  (b)  to request the Minister’s written approval of an amendment to the site plan or of a new site plan.

Same

(3)  A licensee shall prepare and submit an application under subsection (2) in accordance with the regulations and shall pay any prescribed application fee.

No amendments to site plans without approval

(3.1)  A licensee shall not amend a site plan or prepare a new site plan without first obtaining the Minister’s written approval.

Amendments

(3.2)  Despite subsection (3.1), a licensee may make such amendments to the site plan as may be prescribed without the approval of the Minister if the amendments are prepared and submitted to the Minister in accordance with the regulations, along with any prescribed fee.

Preparation of site plan amendments

(3.3)  An amendment to a site plan or a new site plan that is required by the Minister under clause (1) (b) or is approved by the Minister at the licensee’s request under clause (2) (b) shall be prepared by the licensee in accordance with the regulations.

Notice of change

(3.4)  If the Minister proposes to amend a licence under clause (1) (a) or require anything under clause (1) (b), he or she shall forthwith serve notice of the proposal, including reasons,

  (a)  on the licensee; and

  (b)  if, in the opinion of the Minister, the matter is of importance and it is appropriate to do so, on the clerk of each municipality in which the site is located.

(3)  Subsection 13 (4) of the Act is amended by striking out “subsection (3)” and substituting “subsection (3.4)”.

(4)  Subsection 13 (6) of the Act is amended by striking out “subsection (3)” and substituting “subsection (3.4)”.

(5)  Section 13 of the Act is amended by adding the following subsection:

Exception, no hearing required

(12)  Despite subsection (6), a licensee is not entitled to a hearing under this section if the Minister adds a condition to the licence or varies a condition of the licence for the purpose of implementing a source protection plan under the Clean Water Act, 2006.

6 (1)  The Act is amended by adding the following section:

Amendment re depth of extraction

Procedure, application for amendment

13.1  (1)  This section applies if a licence or site plan does not allow extraction below the water table in an area and the licensee wishes to amend the licence or the site plan to lower the depth of extraction from above the water table to below the water table in that area.

Application

(2)  The licensee may apply at any time to the Minister for an amendment to the licence or site plan and the following rules apply:

   1.  If there are no prescribed requirements and procedures in respect of the amendment, the licensee shall comply with the requirements and procedures that would apply under the regulations if the application were being made for a new licence.

   2.  If there are prescribed requirements and procedures in respect of the amendment, the licensee shall comply with the prescribed requirements and procedures.

   3.  If the application is in respect of an amendment to a site plan, subsections 16 (2), (3) and (4) apply.

Public record

(3)  The name and address of any individual who participates in any prescribed notification and consultation procedures in respect of the application form part of a public record and may be made available to the public unless the individual requests that his or her name and address remain confidential.

Referral to Local Planning Appeal Tribunal

(4)  The Minister may refer the application and any objections arising out of the notification and consultation procedures in respect of the amendment to the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal for a hearing, and may direct that the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal shall determine only the issues specified in the referral.

Same

(5)  Subsections 11 (6) to (15) and section 12 apply, with necessary modifications, in respect of an application under this section and any reference to the issuing or refusal of a licence shall be read as a reference to the amending or refusal to amend a licence or a site plan, as the case may be.

(2)  Subsection 13.1 (2) of the Act, as enacted by subsection (1), is repealed and the following substituted:

Same

(2)  Subsections 13 (3), (3.1) and (3.3) apply in respect of the application.

7 (1)  The Act is amended by adding the following section:

Expansion of boundaries

13.2  (1)  Subject to subsection (2), the boundaries of the area subject to a licence, as specified in a site plan for the licence, may not be expanded unless an application for a new licence is made under section 7 to operate the pit or quarry in the proposed expansion area.

Amendment

(2)  A licensee may apply to the Minister for an amendment of the licence and an amendment to the site plan to expand the boundaries of the area subject to the licence if,

  (a)  the proposed expansion area is wholly within a portion of a road allowance directly adjacent to the boundaries of the area subject to the licence; and

  (b)  the prescribed conditions, if any, are satisfied.

Same

(3)  Sections 13 and 16 apply in respect of an application under subsection (2).

Meaning of road allowance

(4)  For greater certainty, a road allowance under subsection (2) includes a road allowance that has been closed.

(2)  Subsection 13.2 (3) of the Act, as enacted by subsection (1), is amended by striking out “Sections 13 and 16 apply” at the beginning and substituting “Section 13 applies”.

8 (1)  Subsection 14 (5) of the Act is amended by adding “by order” after “waive”.

(2)  Section 14 of the Act is amended by adding the following subsections:

Same

(6)  If a waiver has been ordered under subsection (5), the Minister may, by order, vary the percentage of the total of annual licence fees to be disbursed.

Conflict

(7)  In the case of a conflict between a provision of this section or the regulations and an order of the Minister under subsection (5) or (6), the Minister’s order prevails.

9 Subsection 30.1 (5) of the Act is amended by striking out “minor”.

10 (1)  Subsection 31.1 (5) of the Act is amended by adding “by order” after “waive”.

(2)  Section 31.1 of the Act is amended by adding the following subsections:

Same

(6)  If a waiver has been ordered under subsection (5), the Minister may, by order, vary the percentage of the total of permit fees to be disbursed.

Conflict

(7)  In the case of a conflict between a provision of this section or the regulations and an order of the Minister under subsection (5) or (6), the Minister’s order prevails.

11 Section 34 of the Act is amended by adding the following subsection:

Inoperative by-law

(9)  If a zoning by-law includes a prohibition against a site being used for the making, establishment or operation of pits and quarries, the prohibition is inoperative where the surface rights are the property of the Crown.

12 The Act is amended by adding the following section:

Expansion of boundaries

36.2  The boundaries of the area subject to a permit as specified in the site plan for the permit may not be expanded unless an application for a new permit is made under section 34 to operate the pit or quarry in the proposed expansion area.

13 Section 37 of the Act is repealed and the following substituted:

Conditions on permit

37 Upon issuing an aggregate permit, the Minister may attach such conditions to the permit as he or she considers necessary.

14 Section 37.1 of the Act is repealed and the following substituted:

Annual aggregate permit fee

37.1  (1)  Every holder of an aggregate permit shall pay any prescribed annual permit fee within the time period that is determined in accordance with the regulations.

Payment of fee

(2)  All permit fees payable under this section shall be paid to the Trust or to such entity or person as may be prescribed.

Disbursement of fees

(3)  The Trust or other prescribed entity or person to whom the fees are paid under subsection (2) shall disburse all or part of the annual permit fees it receives under subsection (2) to such persons or entities as may be prescribed in accordance with the regulations.

Same

(4)  The amount of a disbursement made under subsection (3) shall be determined in accordance with the regulations.

Waiver of fee

(5)  The Minister may, by order, waive the requirement to pay all or part of an annual permit fee under this section.

Same

(6)  If a waiver has been ordered under subsection (5), the Minister may, by order, vary the percentage of the total of annual permit fees to be disbursed.

Conflict

(7)  In the case of a conflict between a provision of this section or the regulations and an order of the Minister under subsection (5) or (6), the Minister’s order prevails.

15 The Act is amended by adding the following section:

Amendments to permits and site plans

Amendments by Minister

37.2  (1)  Subject to sections 43 and 44, the Minister may at any time,

  (a)  add a condition to an aggregate permit, rescind or vary a condition of an aggregate permit or amend an aggregate permit in any other way; or

  (b)  require a permittee to amend the site plan or to submit a new site plan.

Application by permittee

(2)  The holder of an aggregate permit may apply to the Minister at any time,

  (a)  to have a condition added to the permit, to have a condition of the permit rescinded or varied or to have the permit amended in any other way; or

  (b)  to request the Minister’s written approval of an amendment to the site plan or of a new site plan.

Same

(3)  The holder of an aggregate permit shall prepare and submit an application under subsection (2) in accordance with the regulations and shall pay any prescribed application fee.

No amendments to site plans without approval

(4)  The holder of an aggregate permit shall not amend a site plan or prepare a new site plan without first obtaining the Minister’s written approval.

Amendments

(5)  Despite subsection (4), the holder of an aggregate permit may make such amendments to the site plan as may be prescribed without the approval of the Minister if the amendments are prepared and submitted to the Minister in accordance with the regulations, along with any prescribed fee.

Preparation of site plan amendments

(6)  An amendment to a site plan or a new site plan that is required by the Minister under clause (1) (b) or is approved by the Minister at the permittee’s request under clause (2) (b) shall be prepared by the permittee in accordance with the regulations.

16 Clause 44 (1.1) (a) of the Act is amended by striking out “37.2” and substituting “37.1”.

17 Subsection 66 (1) of the Act is amended by,

  (a)  striking out “provisions of licences and site plans” and substituting “provisions of licenses and permits and site plans”; and

  (b)  striking out “provisions of a licence or site plan” and substituting “provisions of a licence or permit or a site plan”

18 (1)  Subsection 67 (1) of the Act is amended by adding the following clause:

(b.3) defining “below the water table” for the purposes of this Act;

(2)  Subclause 67 (1) (e) (iii) of the Act is amended by striking out “minor”.

(3)  Clause 67 (1) (f.1) of the Act is amended by adding “amendment” after “issuance”.

A friend drew our attention to an online article about proposed changes to the Aggregate Resources Act in Ontario that will have major implications for Prince Edward County – including the municipality’s recent approval of amendments to the Official Plan and Zoning By-laws to make way for the licensing of a new pit on Ridge Road.

Here’s the article (our analysis will begin shortly):

Mayor Says He Shouldn’t Go to Jail If Ford Government Policy Taints Water – Huffington Post, 20191127

TORONTO — Ontario’s municipalities are asking to be released from legal liability in case a change made by Premier Doug Ford’s government leads to tainted drinking water. 

“If we’re not indemnified and the water becomes contaminated, basically we can go to jail,” Jamie McGarvey, the mayor of Parry Sound, Ont. and president of the Association of Municipalities Ontario (AMO), told a government committee Monday. 

“I think that for a decision that has been made by someone else to put us in that position is wrong.”

McGarvey was speaking at a hearing on Bill 132, the Progressive Conservatives’ “Better for People, Smarter for Business Act.” The 92-page bill makes changes to dozens of existing laws affecting 14 ministries. One of those laws is the Aggregate Resources Act, which outlines rules for extracting resources like sand and gravel. 

Bill 132 would void any local zoning bylaws that limit how deep companies can dig for aggregate. It would also let the minister of natural resources amend licences that were given out for extraction above the water table to allow extraction below the water table. AMO says extraction could open up pathways for contaminants to leak into aquifers — and once one aquifer is contaminated, it can spread.

Watch: An example of how development can lead to tainted drinking water. Story continues after the video. 

PCs say there’s no danger to water

Andrea Khanjin, a PC MPP who serves as parliamentary assistant to the minister of the environment, said she’s not concerned. Municipalities don’t employ experts who can determine when it’s safe to dig, she said, so it makes sense for the province to take on that responsibility. 

“We do have in-house scientists and monitoring that are able to evaluate all the environmental effects of digging behind the water table. Now they’re required to take a permit from the province, not the municipality. So we’re taking that off of their shoulders,” she told HuffPost Canada in an interview Tuesday.

But McGarvey said if any extraction does impact drinking water, municipal councillors could be liable. Under Ontario’s Safe Drinking Water Act, municipal councils are legally responsible for providing water that meets quality standards. 

“That simply isn’t fair, and we do not believe it is the province’s intention,” McGarvey told the committee.

Yet a spokesperson for Minister of Natural Resources John Yakabuski said Ontario won’t change any municipal responsibilities under the Safe Drinking Water Act.

The new application process for aggregate operations will be more rigorous than before, Justine Lewkowicz told HuffPost by email.

“This would further empower municipalities and others by allowing them to officially object to an application and provide the opportunity to have their concerns heard by the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal,” she said.

“There will be no change in a municipality’s ability to fulfill its obligations under the Safe Drinking Water Act. Municipal comments and objections will continue to play a significant role in influencing decisions.”

Environmental groups also testified that the bill could have wide-ranging impacts on pollution and pesticide use. 

Keith Brooks of Environmental Defence said the government is “curtailing” the public’s ability to understand what it’s doing by rushing long bills through the stages of approval.

“It feels like it’s intentional. It’s intentional to have an omnibus bill that is so big, makes changes to something like 80 statutes, that it’s very difficult for anybody to wrap their heads around the full extent of what’s being proposed,” Brooks, the advocacy group’s programs director, told HuffPost Canada in an interview Tuesday. 

“It may be so as people cannot get informed and people cannot get organized and people cannot push back against the changes that are proposed in the bill.”

He told the committee that Environmental Defence appreciates that the government did post the bill for public comment, as required by law. 

“But if Ontario was serious about consultation and listening to the people, the government would have allowed more time for the public to digest the government’s proposals before they introduced this bill,” Brooks said. 

“Perhaps they could have even invited stakeholders in to walk through elements of the proposals, as was common practice in the past.”

Khanjin said the government did consult stakeholders on many aspects of the bill and that the public can send feedback even after the official consultation period closes on Wednesday. 

“Certainly, nothing precludes anyone from writing to the minister or myself after that period of time,” she said.

T&R Resources

There are many excellent “one-off” contributions to the study and understanding of issues related to truth and reconciliation. Here we link to current, sustained treatments of truth and reconciliation in the popular and academic press.

Canada’s History

Canada’s History asked several prominent historians and authors to weigh Macdonald’s achievements against his failures and to explore the challenges that surround commemoration in general.

Active History

On October 24, 2019, Active History commenced a series on education “after” residential schools. The series is open-ended. Active History welcomes additional contributions on related themes.

Earlier contributions, included:

I Am Your People, We Are Our People – Dr. Niigan Sinclair

On November 12, 2019, Dr. Niiganwewidam Sinclair spoke to a gathering at St. Mary Magdalene United Church in Picton, Ontario on “The Memorialization of Sir John A. Macdonald.” Dr. Sinclair spoke for about an hour and answered questions from the audience for another half hour.

Dr. Sinclair has kindly agreed to our publishing and transcribing an audio clip from the end of his Q & A:

… The most powerful teaching in this country is that Indigenous peoples are the problem – and Canadians are the solution. Indigenous peoples are inferior – Canadians are superior. Indigenous peoples are the problems, or they are the suckers, or they are the corrupt Chiefs, or they are the people who, ultimately, just need to get it together and get a job.

None of that’s true, by the way.

How about we remove the Indian Act – and then all of that will happen. The problem is, ultimately, that Canadians refuse to give up power and land and control. That’s the problem. And, the ultimate challenge is, How do we inherit … How do we deal with that?


Well, if we just look at the other night, when we saw a certain individual, who has called Indigenous peoples “You People” all the time, and did so, by the way in 2007, and everybody was fine with it in 2007, but then he does it on Hockey Night in Canada four nights ago, and now, suddenly, everyone sees a problem.

Well, it just tells you that there is a conversation that’s moving.

And we’re going to talk about icons tonight? Don Cherry’s an icon in this country. I’m not worried about Don Cherry, because each one of us makes mistakes. We’ve been taught to think in a particular way, and then we act accordingly. We say “You People”.

My auntie called me You People one time. And she said, “You know what the problem is, You People in this country, you keep complaining and protesting.” That’s my French-British Auntie. And the thing that I said to her is, “I’m not your people” – er “I’m not You people – I Am Your People. We Are Our People.”

I’m here to tell you that, “We Are Our People.

So, the problem is not Don Cherry. The problem was Ron MacLean. It’s that he didn’t say a word. And I don’t mean to blame Ron McLean. I’m .really … Wab Kinew. had a great tweet, where he said, “Why didn’t anybody cut off that segment? Why didn’t anybody turn off the microphone? Everyone let the microphones continue.” So, the issue is, is that we have a country of Ron McLeans, who are letting these things be said, harmful things, and not engaging their relatives – or, aren’t standing up to speak for it.

And, I’m talking to a crowd of a bunch of people, who are probably speaking for it. But, guess what?

You’re going to go out into that world, over there, in the Tim Horton’s, in the Library, in the Dentist’s office, and that’s where the conversation needs to take place. ‘Cause they’re never going to come to this. They’re never going to have an opportunity to hear this conversation. And, they’re going to keep saying, “Well, doesn’t he just need to get a job? Oh, they complain and protest about the statue, now. Oh, they …” You know, “What do they want from me this week?”

We don’t want anything. You know, what we want is maybe to be treated like a human being. Try that. Let’s try that.

And that means that we have a conversation together, we believe in each other, and we stand beside each other when we fall. That’s what I say to my Auntie, when she said “You People”. The first thing I said to my Auntie is, “I love you, Auntie.” That’s what I said: “I’m Your People.” And, that’s where we begin.