The ‘CLOSE TO MARKET’ Mantra

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Dedicated to Digging for Truth, Blasting the Myths, and Etching Reality in Stone.

We’re calling b*!!$@!t.

A recent news release from the Aikensville pit applicant, Capital Paving Inc. stated:

With already constrained government budgets and the continued loss of good quality, close to market aggregate reserves, it will be extremely difficult and costly to Ontario taxpayers to repair the province’s aging infrastructure if aggregate is required to be sourced from farther away”

 According to the State of the Aggregate Resources of Ontario Study (SAROS):

Historically, the most common reason for incorporating “close to market” policies has been to ensure aggregate materials were available to the areas of need as economically as possible.”

 The “close to market” mantra also appears in the Provincial Policy Statement (PPS) and Green Belt Act.

 But what exactly are the implications? …and…Does it really matter?

 In a conversation with a person in the Ministry of Transport a few years back a curious citizen asked a question. They wanted to know what the Ministry, or should we say the taxpayers, were paying for gravel for our road construction projects.

The response was that the questioner didn’t know what he was talking about.

The Ministry rep proceeded to explain that they do not get a breakdown of costs for a job, but just a quote to complete the entire project.

 The lowest price usually wins the bid.

 So, the Ministry gives no consideration as to where the aggregate comes from, whether sourced near or far!

 When bidding on a project, a Contractor considers many other variables that can produce a higher, or conversely, a lower quote.

 Variables such as:

Are the workers unionized?

What type of equipment is required?

Does the proposed project fit with other jobs underway?

What profit margin is the operator willing to work with?

Whether the contractor owns his own pit to pull resources from?

And so on….

 So, in essence, we could have aggregate material for a ministry job traveling past competing pits that are closer to the project, because the supplying pit operator has decided to provide a better price, and accept lower profits than a “close to market” operator.

 The aggregate industry pushes the “close to market” agenda.

But do they have any evidence that it actually benefits the taxpayer who pays?

Does it really save money … or just pad profits?

Does it reduce air pollution?

Is there any independent study showing the savings from using “close to market” materials?
Is there an Industry study showing that “close to market” is being utilized advantageously?

Would a contractor supply close to market materials if they were more expensive than materials he could purchase cheaper at a pit further away?

 Unless the Ministry of Transportation actually enforces “close to market” usage, the entire concept becomes a joke!

 

trucktraffic

 

So, should the Ministry mandate and legally enforce “close to market” usage?

 That would create quite a conundrum!

 By legally mandating “close to market” usage, the Ministry would be reducing competition by forcing the purchase of aggregate product from a smaller number of producers. There may even be a situation where only one operator in an area produces the required product; but being “close to market” they would be the only viable source.

Which places that operator in a monopoly situation, driving the cost of product up, not down!

 The “close to market mantra” does nothing but provide a reason for Pits and Quarries to open their operations ever closer to rural residential areas of Ontario.

 Who benefits the most?

The pit and quarry operators who can push the concept that we require the product from the backyards of Ontarians with rural residences.

 Who loses?

Any homeowner who is close enough to the pit or quarry to have their health and value of their home jeopardized.

 The “close to market” mantra may sound good, but what we really need are politicians and bureaucrats who make decisions that are sound, based on studies, evidence and fact.

 Not B#$$&%$t.

 

 

Warm and Fuzzy

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Dedicated to Digging for Truth, Blasting the Myths, and Etching Reality in Stone.

We recently came across a small magazine ad for an aggregate company.

It’s just an average “PR” piece that talks very briefly about the importance of gravel, and refers to what the company has done to accommodate a “resident Osprey” by erecting a “nesting platform.”

 It’s the kind of “blurb” that most, if not all readers scan, think “isn’t that nice” and then continue to read through the magazine with a slightly warm fuzzy feeling in the back of their brain.

 ospreyad

But perhaps we should look a little closer at this situation to see what it really stands for, and what was deliberately left out.

 1)      Do you think that that the employees at the open-pit mine site saw the Osprey circling in the air one day and decided that it would be “just peachy” if they built a platform to see if they could attract that wayward bird to nest on it? Or, do you believe that maybe this was the natural habitat for the Osprey that was obliterated by the gravel company when they decimated the land to make millions of dollars? Do you believe it was part of the MNR license agreement? Or do you believe it was done as a show of being a great corporate citizen? You decide.

2)      Were there any other considerations given to the habitat of any other bird that may have been calling this area their home? You know, Blue Jays, Robins, Blue Birds, Swallows, Sparrows, and the list goes on… Or were they not part of the license agreement?

3)      We’re not big fans of raccoons, but were there any provisions made for them? How about a fox? Maybe a porcupine? Squirrel? Chipmunk? Skunk? Deer? Pheasants? Did the oh-so-considerate operators build them any kind of accommodations, or just plough them under?

4)      We really do believe it’s awesome that there are fish in the “lake” as it is called.  But before it became a “lake” it was a “water table.” How many millions of gallons of fresh water is lost each year through evaporation due to the water table being exposed so gravel can be mined and the company can make as much money as possible in their operation? Did the company do any kind of studies to show what happens when hundreds of acres of water table are permanently disturbed? Is this exposure causing massive damage to the aquifer? We don’t see any of this in the ad.

5)      And speaking of accommodations and “building homes for all of us”, how many residential properties do aggregate companies devalue in their quest for profits? How many homeowners have lost their life savings due to a pit or quarry moving in next to them? Why was that not part of the ‘feel good’ ad?

 In conclusion, we really do believe that “when done properly” aggregate extraction can be beneficial to us all. But we have a long way to go before we reach that “platitude”

Read the ad one more time … are you still feeling warm and fuzzy?

Robin Hood, or Robbing the ‘Hood?

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Dedicated to Digging for Truth, Blasting the Myths, and Etching Reality in Stone.

 Everyone knows the story of Robin Hood and his gang of merry men who lived in the forest of Sherwood , stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. An excellent tale that has spawned many movies, TV series and comics.

 Robin Hood has become synonymous with “selflessness”; Someone, or something, that is generous, almost to a fault.Robin_Hood

 Well, we believe that some aggregate companies want you to believe that they are generous, “Robin Hoodish” type of guys!

 Let’s face it, they sponsor fairs, winter carnivals, sporting events, have contributed to sports arenas, community centres, tree planting for school kids in their pits, and the list goes on.

 But aren’t these “things” mere “baubles and trinkets” to distract from what their Merry Men are up to?

 Do they really support a community to any great extent, or do they take from the smallest and weakest, giving a few crumbs off the table back to the community while consuming the lion’s share?

 Let’s have a look, shall we.

 breathingprotection2When was the last time you heard that an air quality report was completed for a community when a pit or quarry applied for a license? Perhaps it would be useful to know if your air is already contaminated from other sources that exist in your area, BEFORE another pit is added. Well, if you want an air quality study done, you will have to fight to get hold of someone in the government to: A) acknowledge you, B) listen to you, C) support you, and D) spend TAXPAYERS MONEY to have one completed.

 Or, YOU will have to pay to have one done yourself!

 We wonder – why is an air quality analysis not an integral part of the Application process, paid for by the aggregate company?

 Next … Many applications coming forward at this time are requesting “recycling” on the pit or quarry site. Because, ya know, recycling is green and good, just like Robin Hood!

 But … This is an activity that simply should not exist in an open pit. Shhh … let’s just not talk about possible contamination of groundwater. But, if things go as the ‘Hoods’ hope, this will be the trend for the future. And will cumulative effect studies on area aquifers be part of the requirements for a license? There have been numerous instances of wells running dry when an aggregate operation commences their work, as they disturb the water table and its natural flow. If you happen to be one of the unlucky homes whose well runs dry, you’re on your own! Unless you want to water2pay a consultant thousands of dollars and take the aggregate company to court to “prove” they were the cause of your well issues. So, it’s the old story of David and Goliath; your water flow study and lawyer against their water flow study and group of lawyers. Good luck to you! The aggregate company is not held accountable by the municipality until six wells run dry. At that time, if you push, an ‘investigation’ begins. Our guess is that it might be completed, eventually, at TAXPAYERS expense, or for lack of a better word, YOU.

 And … Why are there no levies to be paid to municipalities for transporting loads of recycling material on our roads? Why is the taxpayer, or for lack of a better word, YOU, paying for this billion dollar industry to have a free ride while destroying our roads? It’s well past the stale date on this issue. Raise the levies on the aggregate industry and include recycled material transport!

 pricereducedsign5OK, one more, and if you read this blog on a regular basis, you can see home/property values are an issue. But why should it not be one of the biggest priorities for any pit or quarry application? Why is our government not requiring Property Value Guarantees in the application process and licensing agreements. If there are no property value losses, as the aggregate companies claim, then there’s no problem and it doesn’t cost the aggregate company a nickel. If there are property values losses, such as the Hite Report identifies, then the aggregate company should “pony up”

  So you decide. Are aggregate companies the “Robin Hoods” they want us to believe they are?

 Or are they just “Robbing the ‘Hood”?

Propaganda?

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Dedicated to Digging for Truth, Blasting the Myths, and Etching Reality in Stone.

Propaganda Definition: Manipulation of information to influence public opinion. The term comes from Congregatio de Propaganda Fide (Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith), a missionary organization established by the Pope in 1622. Propagandists emphasize the elements of information that support their position and de-emphasize or exclude those that do not. Misleading statements and even lies may be used to create the desired effect in the public audience. Lobbying, advertising, and missionary activity are all forms of propaganda, but the term is most commonly used in the political arena. Prior to the 20th century, pictures and the written media were the principal instruments of propaganda; radio, television, motion pictures, and the Internet later joined their ranks. Authoritarian and totalitarian regimes use propaganda to win and keep the support of the populace.
propaganda2
So does a delightful fun-filled event in or near a pit or quarry fit into this picture?
How would you categorize a great family outing at a water-contaminating, toxics-spewing, noise-generating, road-destroying, property-value-sucking pit?
That could be a fun day, eh?
And what if they toss in a bouncy castle for the kids?
And how about “Rocky” the gravel mascot? How “cute” is he?

bouncycastle

Do you really expect him to be handing out a copy of the Material Safety Data Sheet section 3: “Hazardous Identification” form. (It describes the toxic effects of continuous exposure to gravel products.) Wouldn’t the kids be thrilled to learn that exposure to gravel toxins can cause bronchitis, emphysema, COPD, pulmonary disease, systematic lupus, erythermatosus, rheumatoid arthritis, tuberculosis and diseases affecting the kidneys, and more?

MSDSwarning

Next, how about a few more rides!
There could be the “Road to Deafness” ride for participants of all ages. Basically, that would be a trip past an operating crusher in a loader’s bucket with some free balloons!

loaderbucketride

What’s a good time without some thrills?
Why not an “It’s free now, but you pay later” run past eighteen idling trucks? No charge for the run, but give it a few years for the toxins to do their work on your lungs for a “pay later” trip to the hospital.
Why not a bus tour through the “Deserted Neighbourhood”. That would be a trip to see all the houses that were abandoned due to the pit or quarry operating too close to someone’s home and destroying their life savings!
Now, we don’t blame those stone age entertainers for their attempts to be “good guys”. After all, even though they move into a neighbourhood, destroy property values, contaminate the air, and possibly the water, etc., who wants to be known for that??
They make millions in profit while taking millions in property values from the nearby homes.
But that’s OK! They hand out free hotdogs, balloons and hard hats!

A Shoe Has Dropped

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Dedicated to Digging for Truth, Blasting the Myths, and Etching Reality in Stone.

It really doesn’t matter if you call it the left or the right shoe, but it came down with a huge “thud” earlier this year.

 The “thud” we are talking about was the Ontario Superior Court of Justice decision that the giant Wind Turbines that keep littering our countryside (thanks to McGuinty/ Wynne), and allegedly cause serious health issues, have caused PROPERTY DE-VALUATION! That’s right, someone astute and knowledgeable actually came out and spoke the words thousands of people have been waiting to hear. Property values are negatively impacted by Wind Turbines! wind-turbine-house

Read about it here: http://www.newswire.ca/en/story/1151369/ontario-court-allows-lawsuits-against-wind-company-and-landowners-just-a-matter-of-time

 Here’s an excerpt from the news report:

After reviewing the evidence of appraiser Ben Lansink, the court states: “(i)n summary, the plaintiffs’ evidence shows that they have already suffered harm through a loss in property values and the corresponding interference with the use and enjoyment of their properties.”  [Para. 9] “The plaintiffs have filed expert appraisal evidence indicating that their properties are likely presently devalued by between 22 to 50 per cent or more, based upon the Proposal as presented.” [Para. 31] “… (I)n this case the court accepts that the plaintiffs have suffered, and are currently suffering, losses culminating in diminished property values …” [Para. 34, emphasis added]

 What does this mean for the citizens of Ontario who live next to pits and quarries? Well, we believe it means that the same realization regarding property values and negative health impacts around aggregate operations will soon be acknowledged.

 Why do we believe this will be the case you ask?

 The only difference we see with the two industries is timing.

 The aggregate industry has been operating with impunity for decades. Their operational methods are entrenched. They open their operations with zero “sunset clauses”, almost zero oversight, and definitely zero compensation for the homeowners living next to these mega-monstrosities! dickpit39

 It has been business as usual for far too long and it’s about time they were reined in.

 This recent court victory for the citizens of Ontario resulted from research conducted by highly qualified experts. Value studies were performed by certified specialists in their fields. The information they brought before the court could not be refuted!

 And that, friends, is what will be required to push an aggregate agenda for “fairness” forward – competent studies by professionals.

 These studies cost money! So individual citizens were called upon to support the cause. It takes many private donations for fairness to prevail! It is extremely unfortunate that the citizens of Ontario must pay extra for the fairness and protections that should come from our governments, but that seems to be the case.

 So, please, if you have the opportunity, open your wallets to help correct a long-standing injustice.

 Now, thanks to the court decision, there is momentum! Let’s ride the wind!

What, Me Worry?

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Dedicated to Digging for Truth, Blasting the Myths, and Etching Reality in Stone.
Do you know “MAD Magazine” with their fearless poster child Alfred E. Neuman and his motto, “What, Me Worry?”

Every month, MAD Magazine has featured Alfred’s fiery red hair, car door ears and goofy smile on the cover of their magazine, and it is something to look forward to.

Alfred-E-Neuman
Little did we know that some of our aggregate operators would pick up his “What, Me worry?” motto as a way of doing business!

You want proof?

Just consider the “Aggregate Vehicle Survey Analysis” performed on behalf of the Ontario government in 2012.

38.3% to 47.7% of the 434 aggregate trucks inspected “exceeded their allowable gross weight”, while another 33.7% exceeded the enforcement tolerance!

That’s more than half of the aggregate trucks on the road running with disregard for the safety of others! You know … “What, Me Worry?”

It’s nice to see the Ontario government actually doing something constructive about aggregate trucks. Now they have the information…..what are they going to do about it?

But a more important question is…Why did this not come up sooner? Maybe in the yearly “Self Monitoring Checklist” or possibly on the “Truck Weight Numbers” collected by each individual operator.

What is a driver to do when he gets on the weight scale situated at each pit or quarry operation and he finds he is overloaded? It seems that too often he carries on with business as normal. “What … Me Worry?”

Do the operators actually report that the truck left loaded with extra tonnes of product? Do they record the maximum allowable weight on their reports?

“If” reports are falsified it would be paramount to tax evasion or fraud, as they would not be paying the people of Ontario sufficient levies for their haulage.

If the driver leaves the pit or quarry knowing he is overloaded, and he has an accident causing death … would he and the owner be charged with manslaughter? Or is it just “What … Me Worry?” again?

So…why would an operator allow overloaded trucks on the road?  … Is it MONEY?

Well, duh.

More weight per truck means less truck travel to get the product to market, saving fuel and wages. HUGE MONEY! The technology to accurately weigh each load is widespretruck2ad. There are no excuses!

And, as with other broken rules and regulations at the MNR, we suspect the profits from cheating far outweigh the penalties. Could it be the MNR barely have a “bark” and definitely have no “bite” when it comes to enforcement of their rules and regulations?

So what’s the attitude of the aggregate operators when it comes to:
The safety of our children?
The safety of the rest of the road users of Ontario?
The damage to the roads that our tax dollars must constantly repair?

We would guess it would be “What, me worry?”

Alfred E. Neuman would be proud!

NOTE:
Many reports and documents come across our desk. We appreciate the information we get, so please feel free to send us more!

Good News For a Change?

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Dedicated to Digging for Truth, Blasting the Myths, and Etching Reality in Stone.

We recently came across a blog that is astonishing. The blog author, Donna Laframboise, has granted us permission to reproduce excerpts here. Please visit her blog HERE.

A section of David Suzuki’s 2002 book, titled Good News For a Change, appears to be calling for an end to activities such as aggregate extraction because it is bad for the environment. At first we didn’t know whether to cheer or weep.

suzuki_plutos_poisons

Chapter 8 is titled Wrestling With Pluto: Cutting Toxins, Cleansing Air. The first three paragraphs are astonishing. [The bolding has been inserted by Donna]:

Ever since we discovered the strength of metals like copper and iron in arrowheads and spears, we’ve been interested in the substances that we find below the ground. But all of them, from gold, zinc, copper, nickel and silver, to oil, gas, uranium and coal, are either directly or indirectly poisonous to us and to other life forms. It is an interesting fact that in nearly all known human mythologies, the underworld is a place of death and danger, not just to the body, but to the soul. Pluto, Odin and the dwarves of the underworld, or Mars and Vulcan, gods associated with the metals we bring up from below, all rule over dark realms that mortals enter at their peril. And while venturers to these realms may gain treasure, they are usually cursed by the underworld spirits whose purpose is to guard the treasure from such theft.

Pluto’s revenge has never failed to find us, no matter how far away we have carried his treasures. Whether we pump oil from the oceans, extract gold from mountains, or scrape away our very farms and homes to get at nickel or coal, the fossil fuels and heavy metals we bring up from inside the earth poison our crops and our trees, destroy our children’s immune and endocrine systems, give us wasting diseases, and kill our animals and fish – often many years after the money they made us is spent.

The similarity in myths associated with the underworld across so many cultures implies that somehow we’ve always known it was dangerous and unnatural to go underground and steal from Pluto. But now we know exactly why that’s true, and having the coal mine cave in on us or the gas vein explode is the very least of our problems. We are gradually learning that the minerals, oils, and gases that were sequestered beneath the surface of the earth by biology, geology and time actually have a reason for staying where they are. If they don’t, they risk changing the make-up of everything on the planet’s surface, including the atmosphere that protects the whole thing.

The chapter ends this way:

We have to call it quits, and leave Pluto and his hoard of underworld treasure alone.

A world without steel doesn’t only preclude wind farms, it precludes bridges – since steel girders are what make them safe. A world without metals is one in which hammers, nails, screws, drills, saws, shovels, rakes, and hoes don’t exist. Not to mention computers, phones, cameras, televisions, factories, airplanes, coins, and gold jewellery.

If using material dug from the earth is off limits, there goes bricks, cement, and shingles. We’re back to building our homes out of uncut wood, twigs, and mud.

The gospel according to Suzuki is that anything that comes out of the ground is poison. Digging up minerals is “unnatural.” Mining anything risks “changing the make-up of everything on the planet’s surface, including the atmosphere.”

Suzuki devotes a few pages to discussing greenhouse gases, the “burning of carbon-based fuels,” and the fact that we humans “enthusiastically made this atmosphere-destroying process the basis for modern industrial society.”

Then he bizarrely spends the rest of the chapter extolling the virtues of bicycles, public transit, and solar panels – none of which would exist without mining and minerals. ‘Incoherent’ doesn’t begin to describe his analysis.

It should, however, now be clear where all of this is headed. It’s there on the page – in stark black and white.

The David Suzukis of the world want to dismantle every oil pipeline and shutter every coal pit. Fossil fuels are, after all, the Great Satan.

But it wouldn’t stop there. Next on their agenda would be mining in general.

These people are prepared to play the “we can’t risk disrupting the environment” card again and again.

Until we’re all shivering in the dark in caves. Until even arrowheads and rudimentary spears have been banned.

————————————pluto

Because we are opposed to irresponsible mining activity does that mean we at StoneColdTruth side with Suzuki’s “good news” and bizarre fascination with Pluto’s mythical underworld??

Hardly.

The rants and requests you will find elsewhere on our blog are positively mild in comparison to the extreme notions put forth by what many believe to be Canada’s foremost environmentalist.

Fraud and Deception in Disneyland?

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Dedicated to Digging for Truth, Blasting the Myths, and Etching Reality in Stone.

 We’re told that in Disneyland there’s a place called the ‘Magical Kingdom’. It’s where wonderful things happen – where wishes and dreams come true. Who knew that here in Ontari-ari-ario we have our own version?

 It’s near Palgrave in the north-east corner of Caledon. This place, where the magic happens, could be called ‘Brockland’ because Brock Aggregates owns the Tottenham Pit. The magic appears to happen whenever reality doesn’t coincide with Brock’s wishes. Not long ago, when Brock decided they wanted permission to nearly double the size of their ‘footprint’ and dig out more sand and gravel from below the water table, they were faced with opposition from concerned neighbours with whom they ‘share’ the water source. Neighbours pointed out that previous site plans and hydrogeological studies showed underground water flow directions that might mean a threat to their private wells.

 So here’s where wishful thinking and magic occurs. First, Brock wished that opponents to their dream would just vanish.

 Didn’t happen.

 So then they got out their magic wand … errr, wallet … and presto! all the arrows on the site plan that showed the directions of underground water flow magically changed direction! Where formerly the arrows pointed in somewhat natural directions, and towards neighbouring residences, they now conveniently changed direction, sometimes totally REVERSED direction, to point away from all the neighbours’ wells.

 waterflowbefore2

waterflowafter2

 How can this be?

 Well haven’t you ever heard of Fantasyland? It happens every day! Take a drive; take a look; wish upon a star! You won’t believe your eyes when you see the magical transformations at Bibbidi Bobbidi Brockland !

brockland

Money Squandering or Money Laundering?

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Dedicated to Digging for Truth, Blasting the Myths, and Etching Reality in Stone.

What would you call it if I offered you a handsome sum of money, like $billion$, to set up your business in Ontario? Perhaps you and I could call it ‘job creation’ to make it sound nicey-nice. Then what if I sweetened the deal by guaranteeing to buy ALL of your company’s production for the next 20 years? This is getting even better for you. But that’s not the end of it. What if I offered to pay you MORE than the normal market price for your product, AND guarantee to buy ALL your product whether I could use it or not? And to top it all off what if I offered to pay you for producing the product, even if you don’t produce it?

Well most folks, including Samsung apparently, would call that a heck of a ‘sweetheart deal’.

Except the taxpayers and the electricity customers.
windfarmONTARIO
But you haven’t heard the best part of the deal. The real kicker is that in order to make this all work, the businesses that get this sweetheart deal will be ‘tempted’ to accept the politician’s invitation to dinner. The dinner is hosted by the Liberal Party of Ontario.

So what, you ask? Well you can be sure that this is a wonderful dinner … and the tickets cost $5000.00 each!
moneyenvelope2Who else would be at a high priced table such as this?

What do you want to bet that other ‘guests’ at these dinners include pals from ORNGE, E-Health, Ontario Power Authority, OLG, Education Unions, and of course our friends in the Aggregate industry?

Don’t you think that for the sake of transparency, all dinner ticket purchasers should be listed on a web site for the tax payers of Ontario to see who is benefiting from your taxes, and in turn purchasing influence in our Province?

All that money goes to finance election campaigns. And as long as the money keeps flowing in the circular route described above, and these sorts of politicians keep getting elected, everyone in the ‘laundry’ is happy.

… Unless you are ‘just’ a hard working taxpayer.

Waking Up to New Realities

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Dedicated to Digging for Truth, Blasting the Myths, and Etching Reality in Stone.

 

We’re wondering if a ‘tipping point’ has been reached. Is the era of ‘government/industry gangs doing whatever they please’ coming to an end? Will those who have been spending/wasting OUR money finally be forced to consider OUR views and priorities?

There are some hopeful signs.

Take for example the noises being made in opposition to the poorly-thought-out wind farms debacle. Our Ontario government has piled onto a ‘green’ bandwagon, apparently without sober consideration, and signed long term contracts that will mean excessive expenditure of taxpayers’ and hydro customers’ money for many decades into the future. At the same time there will be very little if any benefit to our environment or economy. In fact when all the detrimental effects are considered – to human health, endangered species, and property, to name a few – the negatives far outweigh any alleged positives. It appears that our provincial politicians have signed us up for an experiment that will cost us dearly, with an increasing likelihood that the promise of abundant green energy will prove to be an economic nightmare rather than the anticipated dream-come-true.

A hopeful sign is that a number of municipalities are passing bylaws to try to introduce a measure of prudence and caution to the picture – the ‘measure’ being in many cases a 2km setback from homes, and a number of fees to pay for things like decommissioning and property value losses. Another hopeful sign is a law passed in Denmark where 551 compensation payments have been made to people living next to wind projects with an average amount of 57,000 kroner per household. Real estate agents say the amount is often far below the actual property value loss, while politicians see it as a step in the right direction. The loss-of-value clause was passed by parliament in 2008 at the urging of Dansk Folkeparti (DF) and gave neighbours to wind turbines the opportunity to seek financial compensation for lost property value.

As you can see, internationally, others are way ahead of Ontario. Here, the government set an artificial price on renewable energy, and then slapped a 20-year guarantee on that price. This price-setting structure is called the Feed-In Tariff program (FIT), and the World Trade Organization has struck it down as an illegal subsidy that violates international trade law. Problem is the politicians are playing with OUR money. If their decisions were to turn out correct we will pay MUCH higher prices for energy. If they are incorrect we, and/or our grandchildren still pay, in the form of penalties and lawsuits!

The not-so-hopeful sign is that the affected companies aren’t accepting this situation without a fight. In Ontario we’ve seen threatening letters trying to put a ‘chill’ on local councils. We can be certain that more will follow, and in more industries besides the wind developers.

StMarysMasonryCementbagA recent example of just how successful and profitable this ‘pay us either way’ tactic can be for a developer has occurred in the Aggregate Industry. Not long ago a government Ministerial Zoning Order put a stop to a proposed open-pit quarry application near Carlisle Ontario. The applicant, St. Mary’s Cement, threatened to sue and it cost Ontario taxpayers $15million to settle. So WE paid $15M – a nice profit for St. Mary’s without shipping any stone – and what did we get for our money? Nothing but higher taxes and debts …. and McGuinty avoided facing a subpoena!

So the ‘new reality’ is that people are beginning to wake up and demand that their governments – servants of the people – start to actually serve them! The concept of ‘Full Cost Accounting’ is being actively discussed as a requirement for industrial development proposals, so that only those activities that are environmentally, socially, and economically viable will proceed. To allow continued industrial development to proceed while being heavily subsidized by taxpayers, ratepayers, municipalities and property owners, not to mention the uncalculated costs to environments and species at risk, is just not going to be acceptable any longer.

Politicians who don’t have their head in the sand must recognize these signs and see them as an opportunity to provide leadership in the direction we are already heading.

Help spread the wake up call!

Need … or Greed?

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Dedicated to Digging for Truth, Blasting the Myths, and Etching Reality in Stone.

One of the more questionable aspects of Ontario’s Provincial Policy Statement (PPS) is the clause that prohibits anyone from asking if there truly is a NEED for more open pit aggregate mines – both pits and quarries. The PPS reads in Clause 2.5.2.1:  “Demonstration of need for mineral aggregate resources, including any type of supply/demand analysis, shall not be required …”
Since one of the main arguments repeatedly made by pit and quarry applicants is the alleged ‘NEED’ for more supply, it strikes us as bizarre that decision makers should be prohibited from responding with: “Oh really? We NEED more supply? Show us the evidence!” What kind of Alice in Wonderland world do we inhabit here? One side can talk incessantly about need but the other side “shall not”?

So we are asking “What is really going on here?”

Consider a few facts:

…    According to expert analyst Dr. L. Jensen, Phd. Geoscience: “… it will take … 208 years at present rates of consumption, to consume all the sand and gravel reserves under license in 2010. No doubt this 208 year supply has considerably increased with the additional 200 licenses and permits added to the inventory during the past 2 years.”… from a submission made to the ARA Review Committee, May 2012
…   The gravel industry, with help from their lobbyists at the OSSGA, has made a mass appeal of their property tax assessments, apparently successfully. The result will be that municipalities must REFUND and forego hundreds of thousands of dollars to wealthy pit and quarry owners. The tax burden presently shifted onto residential property owners from groups like this who receive favoured treatment amounts to $20 million annually in Wellington County alone, or $731 per property owner.
…  Despite dire predictions of ever-increasing need that accompany applications, Ontario aggregate production, which was 171 million tonnes in 2000, fell to 159 million tonnes in 2011. (from TOARC statistics)
…  Due to a failed quarry application near Carlisle Ontario, the applicant St. Mary’s Cement threatened to sue the province for costs incurred and loss of future revenues. The province has settled, costing Ontario taxpayers $15million! What a sweet deal! You apply for a pit and if you win you get to make $millions supplying aggregate to the province (taxpayers). If you lose, you get $millions for the loss of potential revenue (from the gravel you don’t have to supply). Yikes! Is this nuts, or are we nuts for putting up with it?
…  When an ordinary property owner seeks compensation from their ‘new neighbour’ – an open pit mine – for a drastic drop in the value of their property, the applicants, operators, and elected representatives all run and hide. Is there no ‘NEED’ for wealthy pit operators to pay compensation for what are often devastating losses due to their ‘needed’ operations?
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So again we ask is it NEED or GREED at work here? And why should we be prevented from asking what the needs of the various parties actually are?

Watch Where You’re Going!

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Dedicated to Digging for Truth, Blasting the Myths, and Etching Reality in Stone.

Watch out … You may not like what you find down that ‘gravel’ road.

It seems that the whole world has caught some kind of ‘green fever’. Billions of dollars of taxpayers’ hard earned money is being spent chasing green dreams. Virtually all essential industries have been hit – health, energy production, transportation, manufacturing, food production, environment, to name a few. In some few cases we are benefiting economically from new developments. In many other cases things just aren’t working out, except for the favored few who are well connected with politicians who write them massive cheques.

It is industry lobbyists who are writing the scripts and the taxpayers who are paying the shot.

One example of immediate concern to us is the influence wielded by the gravel industry. For many decades they have had their way with very little interference from those who must suffer the negative consequences of their activities. They are the ‘self-monitoring’ people who write the laws, and are in charge of enforcing them, (if you can call their feeble efforts ‘enforcement’).

A recent news article, and industry response, is a small example of where we’re going if we don’t pay close attention. The topic was ‘Recycling’ of aggregates and the journalist asked “Is Recycling Always a Good Thing?

An aggregate industry lobbyist answered with a resounding ‘Yes!’ And in the process dishonestly branded a community group as “opposing recycling” when the truth is the group – PitSense -  is emphatically in favour of recycling … but in a manner that makes SENSE! Then, when members of that group sought to refute the lobbyist’s false accusation, the newspaper refused to publish their letters.

Why is this upsetting? Could it be because the public is being lulled, with help from a media that lacks balance, into believing that the aggregate industry is only thinking of what’s best for Ontarians? Well just consider for a few minutes an example of what the folks at PitSense are concerned about …

Do YOU know what is in this massive pile of demolition debris? ….

demolition1 Does aggregate lobbyist Moreen Miller know? Does she even care, or does she just want to be paid handsomely to say it’s OK to drop this junk 6 feet away from sources of drinking water, while pretending to be doing the ‘any recycling is good’ thing? demolition2

These pictures are from the demolition site of the old Brampton Hospital. Lord only knows what toxic junk is in this mess. Do we want this stuff recycled? YES, of course. But … are people who have not demonstrated any idea of how to do it responsibly the best ones to do it? NO. Are below-water-table pits in rural residential areas a suitable location for storage and/or processing of this stuff? NOOOO!

But are there truckloads of money to be made here? HELL YES, which is why lobbyists like Moreen Miller are willing to bend the truth more than a little when representing her powerful industry in their pursuit of profits.

We repeat – let’s keep our eyes open and WATCH WHERE WE’RE GOING – or we may end up in a very nasty place.

Imagination … Do you have any?

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Dedicated to Digging for Truth, Blasting the Myths, and Etching Reality in Stone.

imagination

 

Can you ‘imagine’ a ‘nation’

-   where Ontario’s Minister of Health, Hon. Deb Matthews, was actually ‘honourable’ enough to do something to enforce the legislation she is responsible for? Imagine if those thousands of seniors suffering grievous abuse in extended care homes, and their families, could actually be protected and obtain justice when the expected care isn’t provided. See: http://www.ctvnews.ca/w5/nursing-home-residents-at-risk-w5-investigation-reveals-startling-national-statistics-1.1149215

-   where the government actually respected the fact the ‘Crown Land’ is owned by the people of Canada, and then realistically consulted the ‘owners’ before selling or leasing the use of Crown Lands to favored private applicants to enable their friends to make many millions in profits? See: http://ontario-wind-resistance.org/2012/12/16/crown-land-up-for-wind-destruction/

-  where our Ministry of Environment (MOE) did more than ‘pass the buck’ when asked by worried residents to investigate and remedy a toxic fuel spill like the one at the Tottenham Pit near Palgrave? See: http://www.caledonenterprise.com/news-story/1373538-silence-follows-contradictions-at-tottenham-pit/

-  where the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) and Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) stopped denying and dragging their feet regarding the serious negative impacts on property values near wind farms and open pit aggregate mines? See: http://ontario-wind-resistance.org/2013/02/08/mpac-waiting-on-turbine-study/

-  where the MNR stopped issuing aggregate extraction licenses to operators who are clearly not in compliance with regulations? See: http://www.caledonenterprise.com/opinion-story/1372539-ministry-should-deny-pit-application/

- where an elected representative, such as Chris Bentley, and his political party, would be unable to deny responsibility for egregious abuse of public funds, and then evade legal consequences by proroguing and resigning from the legislature? See: http://www.lfpress.com/2013/02/08/chris-bentley-resigning-as-mpp

-    where an accountable and transparent Ontario Hydro would cease collecting a  ‘Debt Retirement Charge’ after the debt is paid off? See: http://www.thestar.com/business/2011/12/28/hydro_debt_retirement_charge_reporting_proposed_in_ontario.html

-    where there would be the same regulations for both the ‘ruled’ and the ‘rulers’? For example is it OK for a Bald Eagle’s nest to be destroyed by the MNR, while private citizens are fined $10,000 for removing trees ‘near’ a nest? See: http://www.brantfordexpositor.ca/2013/01/09/mpp-wants-answers-on-eagle-eviction

-    where there would be some way for the beleaguered taxpayers of Ontario to recover $millions from the likes of Chris Mazza of ORNGE infamy? See: http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2013/02/09/chris_mazza_of_ornge_got_46_million_in_two_years.html

We could go on.

What do all these anecdotes, and related LINKS, have in common? Can you shout out loud things like: ‘waste’, ‘corruption’, ‘scandal’, ‘cronyism’, ‘incompetence’, and __________, and__________, and _________ , … you fill in the blanks!

Unless we raise our voices and demand ethical governments and bureaucracies, we are sure to see more of the same. Don’t you think it’s time we demanded ‘response-ability’ to go with responsibility?

Or are we imagining things?

Getting Stoned … or Getting Out of the Stone Age?

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Dedicated to Digging for Truth, Blasting the Myths, and Etching Reality in Stone.

Hempcrete Could Change The Way We Build …

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When it comes to new and sustainable housing ideas, it seems to always be about creating a more efficient home in terms of insulation, lighting, electricity etc. Mainstream belief on the subject would have you believe that top corporations and government projects are working with the best possible technology to bring forth solutions that work and are going to be great for the environment. If that was truly the case, we can guarantee you that the whole world would be using Hempcrete right now. Haven’t heard of it? … Not too surprised.

First off, what is Hempcrete? Hempcrete is a building material that incorporates hemp into its mixture. Hempcrete is very versatile as it can be used for wall insulation, flooring, walls, roofing and more. It’s fire-proof, water-proof, and rot-proof as long as it’s above ground. Hempcrete is made from the shive or inside stem of the hemp plant and is then mixed with a lime base binder to create the building material. This mixture creates a negative carbon footprint for those who are concerned with the carbon side of things. It is the worlds strongest building material and is much more versatile, easy to work with and pliable than concrete. In fact, earthquakes cannot crack these structures as they are 3 times more resistant than regular concrete.

Since lime is the binding material, and the lime does not need to be heated as much as is necessary in creating concrete, a lot of energy is saved when producing Hempcrete vs. concrete. Jumping back to the carbon aspect, Hempcrete sequesters (hides or puts away) carbon because it is very high in cellulose. During its growing cycle, it takes in large amounts of carbon, which is then built into the structure. This prevents the carbon from being released into the atmosphere. A Hempcrete home can save about 20,000lbs. of carbon.

Hempcrete is a superior building material due to the fact that it is a very strong, lightweight and breathable material. When used as exterior walls, it lets moisture in without rotting or damaging the material. In a practical sense, instead of needing to build homes with space between exterior walls, which are then filled with insulation, you can simply use a Hempcrete wall. As humidity is absorbed from the external environment, the Hempcrete holds that humidity until it is ready to be released again when the climate is less humid.

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Over time, the lime used in the matrix seeks to revert to rock, so the material becomes harder and harder until it petrifies completely. This means the wall will last thousands of years vs. 40 – 100 like normal building materials today.  Another great aspect to Hempcrete is that if too much is mixed during building, you can return it to the soil as a great fertilizer. Since hemp grows to maturity in just 14 weeks, it is a very powerful, versatile, cheap and sustainable solution.

Other notable factors are that hemp crops require no fertilizer, weed killer pesticide or fungicide. The hemp seed can be harvested as a nutritious food rich in Omega-3 oil, amino acids, protein and fiber. It is considered a “super food”. The outer fibers can be used for clothes, paper and numerous everyday items. This truly is a very powerful plant and should be a no-brainer when it comes to it being used in a very mainstream way.

You would think that if governments and corporations were truly concerned with resource conservation, ecology, and the massive effects they claim climate change is going to have, they would begin implementing this solution very quickly. They would most likely make hemp legal in the US and start producing this stuff like crazy. But this doesn’t seem to be the case. Are they exaggerating about climate change and how much OUR carbon is affecting it? Or are they so concerned with their massive-profit system that they fear changing things?

Either way, something is up here.

Rage Against the Machine

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Dedicated to Digging for Truth, Blasting the Myths, and Etching Reality in Stone.

We received another provocative email the other day from some friends of ours. We love it when we get emails that get our blood boiling. Keep ‘em coming!

It seems that although the legislature was shut down by McGuinty, some of his Ministries are still hard at work ignoring the ordinary people of Ontario.

Minister Gravelle from the MNR has decreed, with full support from the Aggregate Industry, (and now the Niagara Escarpment Commission!*) that recycling is just a rubber stamp away from your local pit and quarry.

(*You can reference the changes made by the NEC in this link, pages 9 and 10.)

This change is being justified as ‘something the public demands’.

Recycling of aggregate materials is supposed to reduce the “need” for more pits producing virgin material. But when ordinary citizens ask if more pits are actually ‘needed’ they are told that they simply can’t ask such questions … it’s against the law according to the Provincial Policy Statement (PPS)!

So first, let’s review some facts, and how our now-absentee masters are being led by the nose down the gravel road …

1.      We have over 6,500 pits and quarries in operation in Ontario right now. Allowing recycling is supposed to reduce consumption of ‘virgin’ materials. So do you suppose this might stop the opening of new pits and quarries? Hardly. The PPS is under review, and must change to take into consideration our current abundant supply of materials. But asking the ‘do we need more’ question is still prohibited!

2.      Recycling is an industrial operation that does not belong in a mining environment.

3.      Because of the potential for mis-handling of the various materials, recycling will require oversight, something the MNR has proven they will not, or cannot do, given their current mandate and personnel resources. So again, it will be left up to the aggregate mine operators to police themselves, something many of them have repeatedly done very poorly.

4.      Dust control in pits and quarries is always an issue. Do we really believe that increasing the polluting fumes from machinery, and toxic dust from the operations is a good idea? Processing more material – some of it possibly very toxic – in facilities and under conditions that were never intended for such, seems simply foolish, or worse.

5.      Leachates from asphalt and other contaminated materials will make their way into our water table. It is unavoidable when you drop this tainted rubble two meters from the aquifer, on porous soil.

6.      Furthermore, who will be inspecting the materials coming in for recycling? We know the MNR inspectors can’t do the job. Then who? Where are the regulations and rules designed for this new policy? It’s all left up to the Aggregate Resources Act, which was never intended to deal with industrial recycling facilities.

7.      When applying for a license to open a new pit or quarry, the operator and MNR agree that it will be an ‘interim land use’. Adding a recycling operation will obviously increase the life span of a pit. It seems this creates another way to extend an operation indefinitely and avoid rehabilitation, virtually forever.

To characterize the push for recycling as something the Ontario public wants is a bit of a stretch.

Does ‘the public’ want more recycling?   …. Absolutely.

Do they want expanded industrial operations, with more huge trucks coming and going from their neighbourhood pit forever?  …. Absolutely not!

So we’ve asked just how it’s been determined that industrial recycling in gravel pits represents ‘the public’s wishes’. The only answer we’ve heard is that there are Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO’s) and special interest groups voicing their opinions.

Well, DUH … is it any surprise that the Ontario Stone Sand and Gravel Association (OSSGA) might lobby the government, claiming to represent ‘the public interest’?  But …What about input from groups like Gravel Watch, who more genuinely represent the public interest – and WITHOUT the taint of ties to Industry! Have they been heard? Apparently NOT.

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Industrial recycling operations should be located in industrial areas, not in open pit mines that are often located in rural residential areas.

But recycling is just one part of a bigger picture. It must be implemented with a comprehensive and well thought out plan. As it impacts the future of aggregate mining, it must deal with questions of ‘need’, resource life-cycle management, transportation, alternative materials, and full cost financial accounting . To hand recycling responsibility to the MNR and their aggregate industry friends without such thorough consideration is dangerously short-sighted.

Once again, the MNR and Minister Gravelle appear to have demonstrated a lack of understanding of their portfolio responsibilities, and once again, the aggregate tail seems to be wagging the dog.

In short, the MNR’s handling of this issue seems superficial and inadequate, serving the wishes of their cronies at the expense of ordinary citizens!

Is this acceptable? What can be done? Are ordinary citizens willing to do anything about it? Who owns this province anyway? … You? … or the politicians and their ‘insider’ friends?

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So, since you don’t have preferred access to the decision-makers, we suggest it’s time to call, email and write your MPP, to tell them that weakening the Niagara Escarpment protections is completely unacceptable.

Call, email and write Minister Gravelle and all opposition critics. Try to be civil, which might be difficult, and tell them it is time the aggregate industry stopped dictating policy in Ontario – starting with this recycling-in-pits fiasco.

Call, email and write your local newspapers and news web sites. Tell them these sorts of policies are bad for our province.

It’s time for a concerted effort to send the message to OUR elected officials that we will be Silent No More.

After all, they are supposed to be working for US!

More on Gags and Gagging …

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Dedicated to Digging for Truth, Blasting the Myths, and Etching Reality in Stone.

Our previous post on gags … here … brings to mind the Environmental Commissioner of  Ontario’s 2012 report called “Losing Touch” in which ECO Gord Miller says: “Lately there has been a marked change in the behaviour of some ministries in respecting the rights of the citizens of Ontario under the EBR [Environmental Bill of Rights]”
He goes on to say: “This disregard for the rights of Ontarians has increased to a scope and degree such that I find it necessary to break out this portion of my statutory reporting requirements into its own part, so that Legislators can focus on the implications of the situation.” and: “in recent years, the ministry has increasingly evaded its obligations under the EBR, depriving the public of its established rights.” (emphasis added)
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Because Ontario Government Ministries are avoiding their responsibilities in seeking input from Ontarians via the EBR, the citizens of Ontario are being effectively MUZZLED, or as we say, GAGGED.
But we go even further. We suggest that even when comments are properly sought and received, they are rarely if ever properly considered and incorporated into the legislation or regulations affected.

The ECO concludes that “it appears that elements of the bureaucratic institution called the Ontario Public Service, which was created to support and implement the will of the people’s Legislative Assembly, are somehow losing touch with their role and responsibilities, at least with regard to the Environmental Bill of Rights.”
The Environmental Law Section of the Ontario Bar Association has commented on this sorry state of affairs, where the Ministry of the Environment and the Ministry of Natural Resources simply ignore their responsibilities. You can read the OBA report here: http://www.oba.org/en/pdf/sec_news_env_oct12_Ministries_Shaw.pdf

The result of all this avoidance and ignoring of citizen input is a sense of futility on the part of ever-growing segments of society. The attitude becomes: “Why comment when they don’t listen anyway! What’s the use?”
This attitude gives the politicians and bureaucrats an opportunity to deceive themselves into thinking that they have the tacit consent of the majority of their constituents, when the truth is that vast numbers of citizens are fed up with the futility of the exercise.
So we should not be surprised when we see more and more public tantrums  organized by people who are fed up with being gagged.
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Is this what you would call a ‘civilized representative democracy’?

Wouldn’t it be better to remove the gags and actually be heard by those we hire (elect) to work for us?

Put Up or Shut Up!

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Dedicated to Digging for Truth, Blasting the Myths, and Etching Reality in Stone.

We came across some documents the other day of particular interest.

The pieces in question were written by Ben Lansink, from Lansink Appraisals, and Michael McCann of McCann Appraisal, LLC.  They express their observations, opinions and case study results, from their personal and business experience, regarding wind turbines and the various effects they have on the environment, people’s health, and property values.

Lansink’s “Case Studies” are factual, well written, documented, very well thought out and professionally presented. His report disagrees with most of what the Ontario government has to say about the industry, and will therefore, likely, be completely ignored by ‘whoever is currently in charge of Ontario.’ (this seems to be a bit of a mystery right now as we seem to have no acting premier or functioning government!)

The parts of the documents most interesting to us were with regard to property values. Not the fact that Wind Turbines negatively affected property values, as that is common sense, but that there should be “Property Value Guarantees (PVG’s) for personal properties” situated near these sorts of disamenities.

The quotes of interest were:

“WHAT motivates developers is obvious … extensive, subsidized profits. That is what drives all development by private companies; the expectation of profits.”

“And while profitable development is conceptually a good thing, it should not be at the expense of neighboring property owners, either in terms of their home value, or their health and quality of life.”

“However, … Mr. Ben Hoen, [a wind farm appraiser/advocate] has now gone on record saying that Property Value Guarantees should be used for nearby homeowners, and that “if wind developers won’t guarantee that, then they really don’t have a leg to stand on”.

And, the magnitude of value lost is “the single most important quantitative question, … as that is the basis for monetary damage claims for property devaluation, or as a reasonably supported basis for either denying projects or conditioning the approval with a relevant and meaningful, bonded Property Value Guarantee (PVG).”

A Property Value Guarantee” is a very easy concept to understand.

If disamenities, like wind farms, hydro corridors, railways, gravel pits, or quarries want to situate in your area, the operators must ensure your pre-disamenity property value – as established by an independent appraiser and relative to similar properties not in proximity to a disamenity – is achieved if you decide to sell.

If, for example, your home was worth $500,000 prior to the announcement of a pit or quarry operation, and you then must sell your property for 30% less than comparable unaffected properties, the pit or quarry operator would compensate you, or purchase your property. There will thus be NO LOSERS when the pit or quarry opens, and the full cost of the operation will be accounted for.

Queens_Park2Most politicians and pit advocates claim there are NO negative property value impacts from these operations.

They are, in effect, ‘gravel cost deniers’.

If their assertions are true, it’s obvious there WOULD BE NO COST or RISK incurred by the operator by providing a PVG. So when they make the claim of no impacts, we say “Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is”.

If, on the other hand, there actually are losses imposed on neighbours and municipalities (in the form of reduced tax base and infrastructure costs), the operator should have to calculate that risk and cost into his business plan and provide a bond (or PVG) to compensate for such losses. If the potential revenue from the operation is not sufficient to cover all such costs, we would assume he would not open the pit; but that would be his financial decision to make.

Property value compensation for properties around pits and quarries has been denied and ignored for too many years. It is a reality that everyone should be facing!

To believe that property values will drop only if the fact is talked about is irrational!

It has been demonstrated that values drop as soon as a pit or quarry application is announced.

It’s high time that politicians and the Aggregate Industry get their heads out of the sand and stop acting as if they have never heard of the concept … and either Put Up or Shut Up.

A Joke … or a Gag?

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Dedicated to Digging for Truth, Blasting the Myths, and Etching Reality in Stone.

So they set up special committees to review the Aggregate Resources Act (ARA) and Provincial Policy Statement (PPS), announced ‘public hearings’ and asked for citizen input, appearing as if they would seriously consider all submissions, and make revisions accordingly.

Some people happen to have spent a couple of decades studying the issues and are as close to being an ‘expert’ as can be. So they asked to appear before the ARA committee to make an oral presentation, and made written submissions.

Were they invited to appear or were they ignored?

They were ignored.

There were several more hearings scheduled so they politely asked once again.

Again they were ignored.

WHY?

Did those in charge really want to hear from knowledgeable people, or just from those they might agree with, or who can more easily be dismissed?

We may never know.

The hearings are finished and the committee is supposed to be carefully considering all the submissions, both oral and written, that were put before it.

That’s how it was supposed to work, and that’s what we’re paying for!ratsleave ship

But our Premier and his party have abandoned ship, taken the whole crew with him, and sunk the good ship ‘Legislature’.

So – What is happening to all the recommendations submitted in these two reviews?

- What is being done to remedy the many current problems with the way the current ARA is being administered by the Ministry of natural Resources (MNR)?

- What is being done to head off the threat that existing pits and quarries might be used as industrial recycling plants and potentially toxic landfills?

- What is being done to expose the distortion contained in the SAROS reports, where it suggests we are in the midst of an aggregate crisis.

- What is being done about questionable or non-existent justification for the industry-biased ‘close to market’ and ‘no questions allowed regarding need’ provisions of the current PPS?

- How can we protect ourselves from erosion of the Oak Ridges Moraine Act, Greenbelt Regulations, and Niagara Escarpment legislation that might permit ever more aggregate to be mined in these ‘protected’ areas?

In short, how can we get our high-priced ‘representatives’ to go back to work and actually earn their keep?

Are we being ‘gagged’ or is this just a bad joke?

False Pretenses …

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Dedicated to Digging for Truth, Blasting the Myths, and Etching Reality in Stone.

On the 25th of September 1974, the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) decided in favour of a license application by Dufferin Aggregates for a gravel pit near Paris Ontario. The proponents used an argument that there was a “deficiency of supply”, a “market demand” for the product, and “a critical shortage of sand and gravel pits in the Province”.  Experts testified that there was an  “impending crisis of supply” and that without the proposed extraction, “within 15 to 20 years all available materials would be exhausted”.

The plan put forth by Dufferin was to extract between 800,000 to 1,000,000 tonnes per year, with progressive rehabilitation, which would result in an estimated life for the operation of between 30 to 40 years, at the end of which time “the total property would be restored for agricultural use”.

The OMB believed these claims and promises, and the license was granted.

So, what’s wrong with this picture?

Today it is 38 years later, and only now is Dufferin moving to begin extraction of the resource.

Does this suggest that the applicants misled the OMB back in 1974? That the fear of a critical shortage was unwarranted and overblown? That having the same dogma entrenched in the Provincial Policy Statement (PPS) to this day amounts to perpetuating a lie?

It sure looks like it!

Over the years, going back at least to 2004 and perhaps beyond, numerous submissions and recommendations have been made suggesting that the PPS clause stating there shall be ‘no requirement to demonstrate need’ should be dropped.

Those recommendations have been totally ignored!

Why?influence Could it be some sort of  ‘inappropriate relationship’ between our elected representatives or bureaucrats and lobbyists from the aggregate industry?

As we’ve stated before, reputable experts have calculated that aggregates sufficient for between 1 and 2 CENTURIES of supply can be obtained from existing sources, without licensing any more pits!

 Are our politicians, bureaucrats, and Ministries still being lied to? Can YOU believe it?

Isn’t it high time our representatives began representing US!

2 Cents Worth …

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Dedicated to Digging for Truth, Blasting the Myths, and Etching Reality in Stone.

You know the old saying when referring to opinions. “I’ll give you my 2 cents worth” or better yet, “an opinion is worth exactly what you paid for it.”

The idea of course is “talk is cheap.”

But there are times when calculated advice, ideas, and opinions, free or otherwise, should be sought and thoughtfully received.

A good example of this occurred when our provincial Government held hearings to review the Aggregate Resources Act (ARA). We have very little confidence that they will act on anyone’s advice except the Aggregate lobbyists, but at least they went through the motions. Well done!

An example of government NOT requesting public input, when they really must have it, is at TAPMO – the Top Aggregate Producing Municipalities of Ontario.

The other day we received an article that originally appeared in the Caledon Enterprise.

In the article, the mayor of Caledon was discussing levies on the aggregate industry and how the municipalities required more in order to fix the roads destroyed by gravel trucks doing their daily hauls.

She commented, and we are paraphrasing, that she believed a deal could be done to increase the levies at this time because TAPMO, of which she is the chair, had all the parties at the table. The mayors, the provincial representation, and Moreen Miller, president of the Ontario Stone, Sand and Gravel Association were all there.

Is it just us, or does anyone else notice that something essential is missing here?

Let’s have a look at the individual agendas of the parties in attendance.

The mayors – they want more money.

The province – expects cheap gravel.

The aggregate industry – streamlined processes, cheap operating costs and higher profits.

What could possibly go wrong within this self-serving group?

We’re sure they’ll all walk away with close to what they want.

The only people who won’t get what they need, are the ordinary, taxpaying people of Ontario, because they were not invited to the party, and therefore have no voice.

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Now in a perfect world, our elected officials, the mayors, should be looking after our best interests, but in reality, they can be bought off with a ham sandwich and a dime per tonne in revenue!

So why are the citizens of Ontario not represented at this table?

Are none if us worthy? … or intelligent enough?

Are citizens’ opinions not wanted?

A representative from the watchdog group Gravel Watch should be sitting in on all TAPMO meetings to ensure our elected officials and bureaucrats are not sidetracked by special interests or bought off by a few trinkets and baubles.

These are people who have “skin” in the game, years of experience, top-notch knowledge … and they are people who actually care.

Are their opinions worth 2 cents?

Nope, we’d say they are priceless.

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