Dedicated to Digging for Truth, Blasting the Myths, and Etching Reality in Stone.
There are few industries in the Province of Ontario that are as heavily subsidized as the Aggregate Industry.
How do we subsidize thee? Let us count the ways, or at least a few of them …
1) The Provincial Policy Statement (PPS) requires that Municipalities identify and map all aggregate deposits in their areas. This of course, will be paid for by the Municipalities, or taxpayers. This would be akin to the Federal government (taxpayers) inventorying all gold and oil deposits, so that private companies would not have to spend their money and time to complete these very expensive tasks themselves. An example – the Town of Caledon completed this exercise in 1999 to 2001 at a cost of approximately three million taxpayer dollars.
2) Municipal and provincial roads take a pounding from massively heavy gravel trucks that traverse them. This seems to be “the bone” of contention that the mayors of TAPMO are chewing on. The municipalities and province do not receive enough in “levies” per ton to cover the cost of repairing the damage the aggregate transports do to our roads. So, again, the taxpayers end up building and repairing the roads so the industry can move their goods. The most bizarre point in this scenario is, our government wants cheap gravel, so they don’t raise the per ton levy, but when the roads need repairing because of these trucks, we must buy more aggregate product. So not only do we allow our roads to be destroyed without fair compensation, we give this same business more profits by building and repairing the roads with their product. We can’t even think of an analogy stupid enough to compare this to!
3) To protect aggregate resources, the PPS does not allow homeowners to subdivide their properties, thus preventing a real source of income and wealth for property owners. Even land that is inaccessible by proper transportation routes, and therefore unable to be mined, has been set aside for the preferred industry. Who gets hammered again? – individual landowners and taxpayers. But, when the aggregate operator sees the potential to sell off his pit land for a nice profit, whether the pit is depleted or not, no problemo! (the Brampton Esker for example)
4) When an aggregate owner applies for and announces the application for a pit or quarry, the properties around that area lose their value. The reductions can be anywhere from a 2.5% loss on a property some distance from the pit, or a massive write-down of property value if the property ends up being surrounded by the mining operation. And as usual, the taxpayer, or property owner must “eat” the loss! In addition, the resulting loss of tax base must then be absorbed by the rest of the taxpayers in the municipality! Fair? Only to the aggregate industry!
5) There was a farm property purchased in Caledon, and an application to mine the property for gravel was submitted. The application ran out, so a group of private citizens decided to try and purchase the property. We understand the location was purchased in 2004 for less than $1million. The new asking price, with zero improvements, is now $10 million. Market Value Assessment is supposed to mean taxes based on what a property is worth on the open market. Do the taxes on this property reflect the new value, established by the owner himself? NOPE! So, again, the taxpayers lose, by the aggregate companies not paying their fair share. Why do these companies not pay a realistic tax on a realistic value of their properties?
The bottom line is very clear. The citizens/taxpayers of Ontario exist largely to provide the aggregate industry with a better bottom line!