Pits & Quarries
News as of August 10, 2006! Ontario Government Produces Report on Rehabilitation of Aggregate Pits & QuarriesThe Gravel Watch citizens' group submitted an extensive critique of Ontario's rehabilitation of its gravel pits and quarries. This critique was in the form of a Request, under the Environmental Bill of Rights (EBR), for the Ministry of Natural Resources to review rehabilitation across Ontario. Please see details of this Request for Review of Rehabilitation.
The resulting reports produced by the government are:
Timing and legal deadlines. This Request for Review was received by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) on November 12, 2003. Under Ontario law (EBR), MNR was required to accept or reject this Request within 60 days, by about January 12, 2004. MNR actually responded on January 20, 2004, somewhat beyond the legal deadline. Their decision was to accept and thus to carry out the requested review. Under Ontario law, MNR was then required to produce a Review within a "reasonable" period of time. MNR finally sent their Review on August 2, 2006, which was over two and a half years later. It appears that MNR was in violation of the law by not producing the Review in a reasonable length of time.
Comments on this Request for Review by Ontario's environmental watchdog. In his year 2004 Annual Report, the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario makes these comments out this Request for Review:
The applicants represented a citizens group called Gravel Watch, which also issued a news release alleging that Ontarios gravel pit operators are not complying with rehabilitation regulations, and stating that less than half of excavated land is actually being rehabilitated. The applicants noted that under the current situation in Ontario, approximately 6,000 hectares per decade are being degraded by aggregate operations, without rehabilitation...
The applicants also requested a review of s. 6.1 of the ARA relating to an Aggregate Resources Trust. Responsibility for this Trust, the applicants argue, has been inappropriately assigned to a company wholly owned by the Aggregate Producers of Ontario, in effect allowing an industry lobbying association to control and spend public money on rehabilitation work, without adequate public accountability.
A set timeline for ministries to conduct reviews is not stipulated by the EBR, but the Act does state that ministers shall conduct the review within a reasonable time. While a review period of 1.5 years is lengthy, it could be considered reasonable if, indeed, the ministry were actively continuing to evaluate complex issues. However, it would be neither reasonable nor appropriate for a ministry to delay the release of an otherwise completed review. At this point, the ECO urges MNR to expedite the completion and release of this review, which seemed near completion in July 2004.