The dilemma with careers | bloginfo(‘name’); ?>
June 9, 2022 0 comments
By Martina Rowley
If you’re – like me – a lover and frequent user of our local Island Lake Conservation Area and its pleasant five-mile trail around the lake, you’ll also have noticed this dusty, visual abomination of a quarry (or more precisely from a pit) at its northern end. Newly enlarged in the last couple of years it seems, it now looks wider, deeper and has recently been damagedly dug out near the wire fence barely preventing large diggers from entering the adjoining conservation area. Recently the trail had started to sag from over-digging. At one point orange plastic cones were placed on the side of the trail where the edge had begun to crumble; not my idea of an “escape into nature”. Do surface mine operators not understand the meaning of “conservation zone”?
My first question is for the Credit Valley Conservation Area organization: what is being done to prevent further encroachment and disturbance of a local protected natural area coveted by well owners? My second question would be for the town of Mono, under whose jurisdiction the quarry is located. Basically, what does it give? Can quarry operators just dig so close to a conservation area and basically scrape the very edge of a conservation area? I guess I should have a third question then, which should be directed to the quarry operator, but let’s not list that here…
The bigger question is the dilemma of quarries and surface mining in general, of which there are unfortunately many in our beautiful Dufferin County. According to an interactive map from the Ontario Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry, the quarry I mentioned is called Walker Farm/Craig Pit, owned by Brock Aggregates Inc. and is located near Hurontario Road. It is listed as an active pit with a maximum annual extraction allowance of 500,000 tonnes of sand from its 62.5 hectare area.
In Ontario there are approximately 5,000 open pits and quarries and roughly over 80 in the area between Brampton, Guelph, Fergus, Shelburne and Palgrave. Their location is a no-win situation: they are located close to urban areas because that is where the greatest demand for building materials is. This minimizes the need for long-distance transport, but it also means that they will still be located close to urban areas and other populated areas.
This, of course, is less fun for nature lovers and local residents who have to deal with the impact of heavy trucks. Also, quarries are obviously only set up where there is something valuable to extract. Because Dufferin County and surrounding areas sit atop the Oak Ridges Moraine, formed 12,000 years ago by the advancing and retreating glaciers, there are extensive deposits of sand and gravel .
The environmental stakes of the extraction of aggregates are significant. The entire natural vegetation layer, topsoil and subsoil is removed, resulting in loss of wildlife and significant loss of plant biodiversity and aquatic habitats. Adjacent ecosystems are affected by noise, dust, pollution and contaminated water. Wells and quarries also disrupt the existing movement of surface water and groundwater, affect natural water recharge, and can lead to a reduction in the quantity and quality of drinking water near or downstream of waterways. a career site. Once a quarry or pit has served its purpose, very few are properly rehabilitated. According to the Toronto Environmental Alliance (TEA), less than half of the land disturbed for aggregate production between 1992 and 2001 has been reclaimed.
Then there is the heavy truck traffic required to transport the hundreds of thousands of tons of aggregates each year, causing local traffic jams, accidents, noise, dust, air pollution and wear and tear. local roads. Residents of Caledon and anywhere near Highway 10, or similar major haul routes, can testify to the nightmare of the thousands of truck trips required to haul these building materials to their next processing stop. and distribution.
In 2010 Caledon residents won their 13-year battle against plans for a controversial proposed new quarry near Winston Churchill Boulevard and Olde Baseline Road. While this was a victory for local residents, it was a blow to the region’s aggregates industry. Many citizens’ groups have expressed their opposition to careers. The Concerned Citizens Coalition in Rockwood fought the Hidden Quarry, ACTION Milton took the Campbellville Quarry and CORE in Burlington is or was struggling with a limestone quarry expansion on their local Mount Nemo. And here in Dufferin County, the Food and Water First of Dufferin County campaign fought to stop the infamous “Mega Quarry” which had been proposed to chew up 2,300 acres of farmland to extract limestone.
While I don’t know anyone who would love to have an open pit mine or quarry near their hometown or rural residence, our “not in my backyard” fights seem to be more about their geographic location than the necessity of their existence. . After all, and I hate to say the obvious, but it is our collective first world demand and consumption habits that require more and more stone, sand and gravel to build roads, bridges and houses in first place !
This society’s insatiable appetite for monster homes, timeshares and detached homes is fueling the ever-increasing demand for building materials that rely on those same aggregates that we say we don’t want anyone digging up or hauling on our roads. (why these aren’t shipped by rail, which still amazes me and that’s a whole other story). Add to that this country’s personal need to own two or even three vehicles per household and the Canadian obsession with heavy personal vehicles, such as SUVs and pickup trucks, and the large number of solo trips made for commuting. routine and suburban, as well as a growing population, and you can see how quickly this is degrading existing road surfaces and requiring constant repairs, and the need to build new roads and bridges. And all this requires sand, gravel and other aggregates. Pointing fingers at quarry operators doesn’t help much then, does it…
What to do? A report I came across indicates that urban designers and developers can apply approaches that reduce the need for pristine aggregates. The provincial government could and should then play a role in promoting or even requiring, where possible, the use of recycled aggregates, as long as the safety or durability of the infrastructure is not compromised. There could be a heavy landfill tax to reduce unnecessary landfilling of still usable materials. And pits and quarries at the end of their useful life should be required to rehabilitate and replant the quarries (and heavy fines for non-compliance), so that these vast, unattractive stretches of scarred land can once again become ecosystems. viable and beautiful.