Jeff Green | Jul 30, 2009
Back to HomeFeature Article - July 30, 2009 Bedford Mining Alert says thanks, but we want more Protection from miningby Jeff Green
“I want all of you to know that I volunteered to come down here; I wasn’t provoked. I made it out of here alive last time; I hope the same thing happens this time around.”
That’s what Roy Denomee, senior manager in the mining lands section of the Ministry of Northern Development, Mines and Forestry, (MNDMF) said before making a presentation on changes to the Ontario Mining Act to the 10th Annual General Meeting of the Bedford Mining Alert (BMA) at the Bedford Hall on July 25.
Denomee, who at that time was the mining recorder for southern Ontario, attended a BMA meeting in 2003, where he heard a litany of complaints about the activities of Graphite Mountain, a company that had staked mining claims on a number of properties in South Frontenac and Tay Valley townships.
Even though Denomee received a rough ride from some of the audience this time around, the fact that the concerns that led to the formation of the Bedford Mining Alert in the first place has been addressed by the new mining act that is wending its way through the legislature in Toronto, has taken some of the sting out of the BMA’s overall attitude toward MNDMF officials.
The Bedford Mining Alert was started in the living room of Don and Mary Loucks, by a small group of people who were irate when they learned that prospectors had staked their rural properties and then found out that prospectors had the right to remove trees, do ditching and otherwise affect their property without permission or even notification. They were among the 4% of southern Ontario landowners who only owned the surface rights to their properties.
When the revised mining act was presented to the Ontario Legislature on April 30 of this year, the government also included a temporary withdrawal order for all so-called Surface Rights Only (SRO) land in southern Ontario
While existing mining claims on SRO properties are still active, the lands that are not currently subject to claims will never have to face claims again, according to Denomee. “When the act is passed, the withdrawal order will be permanent,” he said.
During its 10-year history, the Bedford Mining Alert has expanded its focus from the surface rights only issue.
Marilyn Crawford, a Bedford Mining Alert member who is also a board member with Mining Watch Canada, presented a series of concerns that the BMA has with the new mining act, some of which Roy Denomee said will be handled when the regulations that arise from the new act are developed once the act is passed by the legislature.
The revised mining act has passed two readings at Queen’s Park, and is now at the committee stage. The Bedford Mining Alert is one of the groups that are seeking an opportunity to make a presentation to the committee this month. The act is expected to pass third reading and be enacted by the end of 2009.
Crawford quoted one of the ministry’s own documents, which said “There are no regulatory options for placing more stringent conditions on how uranium exploration is conducted as opposed to any other mineral even though uranium poses a unique documented risk."
Roy Denomee said that the mining act does not distinguish between different kinds of minerals. “That is not something that would be dealt with through the mining act itself,” he said, “it would have to be through other means.”
Charles Fischner, one of the people attending the meeting, was not impressed with the changes to the Mining Act, or with Denomee’s presentation. “Mining is still possible on 96% of private land, provided the landowner wants it, and there is nothing to protect the rights of the neighbours. The act also maintains the primacy of land use for mining, putting all other provincial ministries in a subservient position,” he said
When the Mining Act goes to the floor of the legislature this fall, it will be greeted by a new critic from the benches of the Official Opposition.
Lanark Frontenac Lennox and Addington MPP Randy Hillier, fresh from his run for the leadership of the Conservative Party, has been named to the shadow cabinet by leader Tim Hudack, the man that Hillier asked his supporters to vote for once he was off the ballot.
He has been named as party critic for the Ministries of Labour and Northern Development, Mines and Forestry.