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Ontario environmental groups unite to stop new gravel excavation

Ontario environmental groups unite to stop new gravel excavation

The Reform Gravel Mining Coalition calls for a moratorium in lieu of an independent review

TORONTO — A coalition of environmental groups is pressing for a moratorium on all new applications for gravel mining in Ontario.

Environmental Defence, Wellington Water Watchers, and the Council of Canadians announced the creation of the Reform Gravel Mining Coalition.

RGMC says it represents grassroots community groups engaged in “David and Goliath” struggles against corporations “that put profits over people and the environment.”

Nearly three-dozen community groups opposed to the construction of new quarries in their area have endorsed it.

Quarries are a hot topic in Ontario, including in the Thunder Bay region.

The coalition maintains that gravel mining permits are biased in favor of the aggregate extraction industry.

“Gravel mining companies engage in a ‘wild west claim staking’ approach of land-banking multiple sites for future extraction of a finite resource. It states that gravel mining sites must be minimized and not maximized.

According to the group, operators have more gravel than they need.

It states that further expansion will cause harm to the natural environment, increase climate change, and damage communities.

RGMC wants an independent panel appointed to examine current provincial policies during a moratorium.

However, a spokesperson for the gravel industry says it’s already subject to heavy regulation including more than 25 pieces of legislation.

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Sharon Armstrong, from the Ontario Stone, Sand and Gravel Association, said that there is currently only 10 years supply.

Armstrong stated that we don’t know how good the aggregate is until it’s extracted. A second reason is that it takes an average of 10 to license a new quarry or pit.

She stated that the industry as well as the province are facing a major problem because stone, gravel and sand are being used at an increased rate than what is possible in the future.

“More aggregate production will help maintain and upgrade the aging infrastructure, and to continue to grow Ontario’s economic growth.”

Armstrong said that from both an economic and environmental perspective, it makes sense to locate pits as close as possible to where the material is needed.

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