Free-for-all mega-quarries not just a rural problem

[attach]4276[/attach]It’s not every day that I write about small potato-growing communities.

But then it is not every day that companies arrive from the States to dig out millions of tons of limestone, and in the process, pump hundreds of thousands of cubic metres of water — each day — out of the vast pit it wants to build, and into the local water system; a water system that supports many agricultural jobs in a rich farming area.

For some reason, this has the community in Melancthon Township, north of Orangeville, upset.

Indeed it should.

Because while the company could take five years and 20 consulting firms to produce a 3,100 page proposal, local citizens had only 45 days to respond to the Ministry of Natural Resources who are reviewing the proposal.

No environmental assessment is required for a mega-quarry that will strip millions of tons of rock.

For these reasons, the situation north of Orangeville and those like it elsewhere have brought city dwellers like me into the fight. Because it doesn’t just affect rural citizens.

We’re talking about security of food supply, protection of fresh water and everyone’s access to Ontario’s countryside.All to please an aggregate — the name given to the business that uses gravel, small pebbles, etc. — industry that has woeful recycling rates. Places like Britain and Scandinavia use about half the amount Canadians do per capita, and recycling more obviously reduces the need to mine more limestone.

So while cities use more construction material, they don’t recycle much.

Thus the crisis threatening Melancthon Township and other communities.

Dalton McGuinty has the power to act against these destructive projects.

He could protect ground water. But so far he won’t, risking more harm to rural ways of life and leisure activities for city dwellers on which many rural jobs depend.

So instead, local communities — like one near Duntroon on the Niagara Escarpment — are forced to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars at the Ontario Municipal Board to fight the free-for-all that mega-quarries have become.

Wherever we live, this is wrong and it’s time McGuinty stepped up to the plate.