I am writing today in response to an article that appeared on January 15 called Aggregate Wars Return. In this piece, Jim Bertram puts forward information that is misleading and OSSGA would like to correct the record.
In his article, Mr. Bertram states a falsehood that aggregate extraction is harmful to water. This is untrue. Quarries and pits that operate below the water table are required by law to mitigate impacts of nearby sensitive features – such as wells, streams and wetlands. No chemicals are involved in the extraction or processing of aggregate materials. It is not correct to imply that residents are put at risk, either from any type of contamination or the quantity of water available in their local wells.
The “war” this headline refers to, is the repeated misinformation perpetuated by groups which are opposed to local quarries. The reality is that we all use aggregate. Every one of us, including Mr. Bertram – when he gets up and brushes his teeth (toothpaste), looks out the window (glass) of his house (bricks, mortar, foundation, paint), drives to work (roads) or goes shopping (buildings). Stone, sand and gravel (or aggregate) is the basic building material of modern society.
But why in my community? The smartest, most environmentally responsible consideration when mining for stone, sand or gravel is to ensure that the gravel pit is located as close to market as possible to eliminate as many of the greenhouse gases as possible from shipping the product. And that’s not easy. Aggregate only exists where nature put it – so the location of potential aggregate pits and quarries is governed primarily by geology.
We must work together. Ontario’s aggregate industry is one of the province’s most heavily regulated industries. Twenty-five different pieces of legislation and hundreds of regulations determine where, when and how stone, sand and gravel is extracted. Aggregate is a clean industry and aggregate operators are professional stewards of the land. The industry employs hundreds of environmentalists, from hydrogeologists to species at risk specialists, biologists, ecologists and more whose focus is to protect Ontario’s environment.
It is important we recognize that the aggregate industry is not the enemy. We are a responsible, conscientious industry supplying a vital raw material that builds Ontario – that you, the reader of this article, use every day. To find out more about the stone, sand and gravel industry, I invite you to visit gravelfacts.ca.
Norm Cheesman, Executive Director
Ontario Stone, Sand & Gravel Association