Ontario Gravel Pit Rehabilitation: Who Will Pay For It?
Does the law require gravel pit rehabilitation? Yes, the Aggregate
Resource Act requires progressive rehabilitation during the operation of each
pit and final rehabilitation when the pit shuts down. The current lack of
rehabilitation is against the law . (Click to see
Gravel pit rehabilitation: Is it falling behind? Yes, less than half
of the area being excavated for aggregate pits is being rehabilitated. Ontario
has roughly 23,000 hectares of disturbed (stripped) land in gravel pits. In
the decade 1992-2001 another roughly 6,000 hectares (roughly the area of 10,000
football fields) were disturbed and not rehabilitated.
(Click to see
The cost: How much will it cost to carry out the missing rehabilitation?
The bill runs in the many millions of dollars.
state that rehabilitation costs
$12,495 per hectare.
Based on this rate, the cost of
cleaning up just the areas
that were newly disturbed and not rehabilitated in the decade 1992-2001 will
be roughly $75,000,000.
This does not count the cost of cleaning up the
excavations already done up to ten years ago,
nor the cost of cleaning up Ontario's 6,700
(Click to see
Who will pay the bill? Too often, the public coffers
pay for environmental damage, as industry moves on. As a society, we are obliged
to clean up after these excavations. Unless the government takes new and dramatic
action, our tax dollars will end up paying this debt.
Security deposits guaranteed
rehabilitation: What happened to them? The Aggregate Resources Act required a security deposit
from pit operators to guarantee rehabilitation. In 1999 the government liquidated
these deposits, which consisted of $49,000,000 and turned the cash over to
the pit operators. The result: this incentive to rehabilitate was eliminated.
(Click to see details.)
Cheap gravel: Is the environment being sacrificed to produce cheap gravel? The
economic reason for avoiding rehabilitation is that it costs money. With a
cheaper operation, the gravel industry provides a cheaper product, which in
turn encourages more consumption and with it, continued lack of rehabilitation.
Privatizing pit management: Is that the problem?
The Ontario government has
turned over much of the management of the gravel
industry to the Aggregate Producers Association
of Ontario (APAO), which is the registered lobbyist organization for the industry.
APAO together with its sub-organizations collects the gravel tax (haulage
levy) for the government and hires itself, out of government funds, to rehabilitate
abandoned pits. Is this conflict of interest on the part of APAO a
key cause of lack of rehabilitation? (Click to see
Lax law enforcement: Is that the problem? Much like
the control of clean water and like the control of meat inspection, the Ontario
government down sized the Ministry of Natural Resources to the extent that
there are few officers to enforce the Aggregate Resources Act. Pit operators,
and not government inspectors, were made responsible for inspecting their
own pits. This lack of government control of the industry is likely a key
cause of lack of rehabilitation.
Calling the Provincial Watchdog. A Request for Review is being submitted
to the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario, Gord Miller. This will ask that
the Aggregate Resources Act be enforced and updated to prevent further lack of
rehabilitation. The intention is to make the gravel industry pay its bills and
to rehabilitate our pits back to the forests and fields they used to be.
Request for Review.)
Ric Holt (submitting Request for Review to the Environmental Commissioner),
Gravel Watch, (519) 846-2298 or (519) 888-4567 ext 7242, firstname.lastname@example.org,
Carol Hochu, President,
Aggregate Producers Association of Ontario, (905) 507-0711,
Brian Messerschmidt, Ministry of Natural Resources,
Aggregate and Petroleum Resources Section, (705) 755-1949,
Gord Miller, Environmental Commissioner of Ontario, (416) 325-3377,
Note. This page uses the term "gravel" to mean
collections of rock particles, including sand, crushed rock and gravel proper.
The corresponding industry term is "aggregates".
See also Gravel in Ontario.