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

I recently got talking with a guy who is involved with a group called PitSense. He told me about this episode …

His cell phone rang at 8:31 on a Thursday  morning. That was like the crack of dawn for him as he’s really not a morning person.

The number and name on the display were unknown to him so he really had no expectations as to what the call was about.

“Is this John Smith” [not his real name] a Voice asked.

It was early, but this was an easy question.

“Yes” he replied.

Then ‘the Voice’ gave a brief explanation of the reason for the call. It seems that two PitSense group members had asked to post a notice in the Voice’s shop window advertising a “meet and greet” BBQ, and John’s name and phone number were included on the notice.

The Voice proceeded to lob a few easy questions, which was greatly appreciated being so early in the day.

“What road do you live on?” the Voice wanted to know.

Assuming that he was thinking of coming to the event, John replied with his street name.

“Is that a paved road?” the Voice inquired.

Why yes it is” John replied.

“And do you have a paved driveway?” asked the Voice.

Another easy one. He could have answered these at 5:30 am and still got them right. He was sure he was knocking these out of the park! “Why yes it is” he answered.

“Then you have some nerve” the Voice scolded.

Now he started thinking the Voice may be telepathic! John had been known to have a bit of nerve. He speaks when he probably shouldn’t, a little too pushy sometimes, maybe even a bit too fast with an inappropriate comment. The voice was intriguing him.

“And why is that?” John. asked.

“Well” said the Voice, “you’re against gravel, but you have it all around you. That’s very hypocritical. Your road, your driveway, your house … how are these things to be built if you don’t want pits to open?”

The Voice went from tossing easy lobs to a fast ball in a blink of an eye!

John wished for a coffee.

“Well” John said, taking a deep breath “I’m not against pits and mines. Our group is promoting a more fair approach to the aggregate industry.”

“We believe that what we call ‘full cost accounting’ should be done by the operators in the planning stages to ensure that the proposed operation is economically feasible before being issued a license. For example, we believe that 11 cents per ton in haulage fees is not enough to pay for the damage done to our roads by their trucks. Presently, our tax dollars must compensate for these repairs.”

The Voice agreed, so John continued …

“There are no environmental fees being charged to the operators to plant trees, or protect species, or to compensate for the water and air pollution caused by their trucks and machinery.”

The Voice said ”unhuh”

“Rehabilitation of the majority of pits is not happening. There should be money set aside at the beginning of the operation to ensure the pit or mine gets rehabilitated as the operation progresses, and is completed on a timely basis after the pit has closed.”

Silence at the other end …

“Ontario has an aggregate recycling rate of 3%. The UK runs at 28%. The UK has high dumping fees that make it more practical to recycle. Ontario does not.”

“The loss of property tax revenue due to property devaluations should be paid for by the operator, compensating the municipality instead of hitting residents further away from the pits with increased taxes to make up for the revenue loss.”

And John also said he believes property owners that suffer devaluation due to the operation of a pit or quarry should be compensated for their loss. He then asked ‘the Voice’: “Why should a private person or business enrich themselves, while the property owners around them lose their equity? Many of these home owners would include their house as a major part of their retirement income plan.”

Apparently John’s group PitSense believes there must be fairness in the system that does not exist today.

The Voice said he agreed, and said goodbye.

“click”… John didn’t even get a chance to ask if ‘the Voice’ would come to the BBQ!