So you own 300 acres of land and have obtained a license to extract aggregates (sand and gravel) from your property. The site plan has been approved and it requires you to build BERMS around the perimeter in a zone that is 30 meters wide. The official ‘limit of extraction’ does not extend into that 30 meter wide zone.
However, you have permission in the site plan conditions to import extra ‘soil’ if needed to build the berms, and in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) there are certainly abundant supplies of excess soil available from building and infrastructure excavation sites. So much so that there is a very lucrative business going on in what could be called ‘soil trafficking‘.
So much so that it is common to be handsomely paid by the ‘traffickers’ if you have a place that can be used to dump and hide the stuff.
Which brings us back to the licensed pit. Is there any better place to hide excess illicit soil than UNDER a berm?
So you decide to excavate a very deep trench under the area where the berms must be constructed and then IMMEDIATELY fill the trench with imported fill. Then you cover the whole shebang with more imported soil to build the berm, followed by a thin layer of topsoil from the pit site itself to make the whole thing look pretty and legit.
So who is any the wiser? When nearby residents question the massive number of fully loaded trucks coming into the pit and leaving empty they’re told that the operator has permission to bring in soil to build berms. Then if you question why the trenching is being done BEYOND the “limit of extraction” you are told by the MNRF that “they don’t want to waste the gravel”.
WHAAAAAT? … “Waste the gravel”??!
What this means is they want to extract extra unauthorized gravel in order to sell it and improve their profits. At the same time they want to get the extra money from the soil traffickers to accept and hide the thousands of tonnes of excess fill being buried in the trenches.
When the local municipality and the provincial Ministry were notified of what is going on, inspectors were eventually sent out and eventually discovered, months later, that the operator is “not in compliance” with the site plan. The Ministry then said they will “work with” the operator to “bring them into compliance”.
No cease and desist order! No investigation of the thousands of truckloads of illicit imported fill hidden beneath the already ‘prettied-up’ berms! Let’s just sweep this under the rug and hope for the best.
Unfortunately for the Ministry and the operator there are quite a few folks who have witnessed what has been happening and have photographic evidence that the soils imported and buried are contaminated. This puts neighbouring private wells at risk of leachate contamination, not to mention downstream tributaries & rivers .
To top it all off (no pun intended) we have reports that the Aurora MNRF office has suggested that residents should approach the operator, who is in violation of the site plan conditions, to obtain answers to their numerous questions, such as exactly how much illicit contaminated soil has been buried under the berms.
Good grief, imagine that! An ordinary citizen is supposed to approach the suspected bank robber to ask where he got the money because the police don’t want to investigate!
So WHAT WOULD YOU DO? If you could pocket hundreds of thousands of dollars by digging a big hole in your back yard and burying the evidence of a crime, with little or no chance of being caught or punished, would you do it?
Just for reference, this is what should be happening –
So if that is what happened with a small scale violation, what do you think will happen with a massive scale violation?
Update: to see more about what is going on you can visit: