OPAL asks MNR for quarry rehab response

By Jennifer Vandermeer, Norwich Gazette/IngersollTimes

Oxford People Against the Landfill (OPAL) wants to know what Ontario's new Minister of Natural Resources plans to do about enforcing rehabilitation plans for pits and quarries.

In an April 1 letter addressed to Minister of Natural Resources David Orazietti, OPAL raises its concern about Walker Industries' proposed landfill at Carmeuse Lime in Zorra Township. It includes concerns that the site rehabilitation plan for the Carmeuse property filed with the Ontario Aggregate Resources Act (ARA) would, in effect, be cancelled if the landfill proposal is approved.

“OPAL felt this was an ideal opportunity to open a dialogue with the MNR regarding our serious concerns with the ability of pit and quarry companies to change their site plans,” said Suzanne Crellin, OPAL's research chair.

She pointed out that Ontario has over 6,000 pits and quarries, with about half actively licensed and half abandoned.

“The licences are granted by the MNR under the Aggregate Resources Act, based on site plans that include rehabilitation requirements,” said Crellin.

“OPAL and our allies believe that by allowing aggregate companies to amend these rehabilitation agreements to make way for landfills, the Ontario government is setting a precedent for potentially thousands of new waste disposal sites to be created around the province.”

OPAL is specifically asking the minister to provide information on what policies are in place to deal with proposals such as Walker's Southwestern Landfill proposal.

The letter to Minister Orazietti asks if it is MNR policy or practice to allow landfills as an after-use at a pit or quarry and if so, whether the ARA will be changed to reflect this.

“Allowing landfilling of pits and quarries instead of enforcing rehabilitation would perpetuate a troubling loss of the highest quality productive farmland across Ontario,” OPAL's letter states.

Crellin said it's time for the ARA to be revised and for site plan rehabilitation to be strictly enforced.

The ARA was reviewed by a government committee in June of 2012, during which OPAL made a presentation about the lack of enforcement of rehabilitation plans and drew the committee's attention to the Walker's proposal.

OPAL's letter requests a response from the minister's office within 45 days, including specific information about an action plan the MNR has put in place for dealing with landfill proposals slated for aggregate properties.

Allied groups that signed on to OPAL's letter include the Ingersoll District Nature Club, Concerned Citizens of Brant, Friends of Transvaal and Oxford Green Watch - each with an interest in how the MNR responds to the group's request for information.

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