| Jan 11, 2007


Feature Article - November 30, 2006

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Januay 11, 2007

MNR must explain pits and quarry legislation, CF Council saysby Jeff Green -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

A letter from an engineering firm asking Central Frontenac to forward the names of quarry owners sparked a discussion at the first Central Frontenac Council meeting of the year.

Councillor Bob Harvey recalled, for the benefit of newly elected councillors, that “we were able to stay out of the pits and quarries act 15 years ago, but now it looks like it is being brought in.”

The Aggregate Resources Act, which regulates gravel pits and rock quarries, is being extended to include all the townships in Southern Ontario that were until now excluded.

Legalese_07-34

In a letter to quarry operators dated November 1st, Brian Messerschmidt of the Ministry of Natural Resources advised that “the Ontario government is strengthening the protection of the environment by designating additional private lands in southern, central and northern Ontario under the ARA [Aggregate Resources Act] and by increasing fees to support enhanced rehabilitation, compliance and enforcement.”

Until now, aggregate sites (i.e gravel pits) within Central and North Frontenac and AddingtonHighlands, for example, have not been subject to regulation, whereas pits in South Frontenac, all of LanarkCounty, and parts of Stone Mills township, have been subject to regulation.

Of particular concern to members of Central Frontenac Council is the impact of this on operators of small pits, who may be required to undertake expensive engineering studies, fencing, and site rehabilitation in order to maintain their pits.

Owners of existing pits are required to register with the MNR by the end of June in order for their pits to be grandfathered into the new regime. Otherwise, they will face even more expensive requirements should they try to establish themselves as new pits later on.

Councillor John Purdon conducted some research into the situation before the council meeting. He reported that the specific rules have not yet been set out by the MNR, but “I contacted Tracy Zander, the Engineer from McIntosh Perry who wrote to us, and she said she expects it could cost between $2,000 and $3,000 for required site sketches and other information for rehabilitation for each pit.”

Councillor Jeff Matson, who works in construction himself and uses five different pits, pointed out that, “This could have a big effect on all of the road construction companies in North and Central Frontenac, and even the small landscape businesses. If it means that small pits have to close, it will mean material will have to be trucked further and costs will go up.”

Although the Aggregate Resources Act has been extended to include local townships as of January 1st, the way it will be implemented has not been revealed.

“We are waiting for the MNR to let us know what will be required for different-sized pits,” said Councillor John Purdon, who proposed a motion that council request MNR representation at a public meeting to go over the regulations.

A table outlining some of the costs was released on November 1st, and in late November John Ibey, the public works manager for North Frontenac, brought the issue forward to that council.

At the time Ibey said that it looks like small pit operators will have to pay about $400 each year to be registered, and may not face other costs for several years, if ever, since the MNR will likely be more interested in inspecting larger operations.

Because pits are not regulated, no one knows exactly how many there are in North and Central Frontenac and Addington Highlands, but there are likely dozens or more. “If this means it will cost about $400 per year to register a pit and pay royalties, then it won’t be a problem, but if it starts costing construction companies around here $20,000 to bring all of the pits they use up to new standards, do fencing, and berming so the pits can’t be seen from the roads, then I don’t think it will happen because how can anyone get that money back?” Jeff Matson said to the News.

Central Frontenac Council decided to lobby the province to either push back the June 30th deadline for registering or alter the regulation. They will also seek a public meeting with the MNR as soon as further information is forthcoming from the MNR.

Other items from Central Frontenac Council

Police budget estimates

The township received an estimate of policing costs that it will be charged by the OPP for services in 2007. The township will be charged just under $900,000 ($891,534) in 2007, up in excess of $50,000 from 2006.

Council will be able to question the OPP about this when they bring their next report on activities to Council.

RideauValley wants more

The preliminary budget for the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority (RVCA) was outlined in correspondence from General Manager Dell Hallet. Although the total budget for the RVCA is over $3.5 million, Central Frontenac’s share of the costs is $7,131.35. Still, that is an increase of 13.3% over 2006, and although Rideau Valley Staff have been instructed to trim the budget by 2%, a double digit increase is envisioned again this year.

Council instructed John Purdon, their new representative to the RVCA Board, to see if it is possible to cut the budget further.

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