Proposed mega quarry is a mega bad idea

ON POLITICS with Rob Strang • Sep 17, 2012 - 11:12 AM

At the request of a reader, I would like to clarify my position on the proposed mega-quarry. In a previous column, I compared the proposed Gateway oil pipeline through British Columbia (BC) to the mega-quarry in Melancthon, noting that in both cases the locals take all of the environmental risks, while the benefits are reaped by those far removed from the consequences. In a letter of response, D. Crump of Toronto argued the mega-quarry benefits Ontario and even Melancthon, given that we all use aggregates. Crump suggested my view was parochial by drawing a comparison between BC and Melancthon. I must confess, I do tend to write this political column with our Dufferin-Caledon constituency in mind, but the mega-quarry would be bad for Ontario by subsidizing the cost of aggregate by eliminating prime farmland. It should be obvious that increasing our population by building homes on farmland is not a good long-term plan. Sadly, this is exactly what Ontario is doing. The Greater Golden Horseshoe Growth Plan calls for 80 per cent of Ontario’s growth to occur in this small part of Ontario. The plan adds more than three million people during roughly 25 years to an area known for some of the best farmland in the province and the longest commute times in North America. Not only will this be bad for the people of the region, it would starve the rest of the province of the development it needs. The rest of Ontario isn’t short of rock. Toronto is a wonderful city, but I can’t imagine it will be improved by adding three million people spread out onto the surrounding countryside. On the other hand, the many towns and cities elsewhere in this province would benefit greatly from the cultural and economic diversity newcomers would bring. There would be a healthy, natural dispersion of economic activity to the rest of the province if we made farmland a higher priority than sprawling development and pits and quarries. Destroying farmland to provide cheap aggregates only facilitates the destruction of the quality of life of the region and retards the development of the rest of the province.

Taking the parochial perspective, Dufferin-Caledon has done more than its share to provide aggregate to the province. As Christine Shain noted in a letter to The Banner back in June, a study by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council reported that Caledon alone already contains the “largest series of gravel pits in North America.” I believe each community has a responsibility to contribute to the greater good of the province, but why build a mega-quarry to pave paradise for a few decades when Dufferin County’s contribution could be to provide food, recreation and clean water to Ontario forever. Rob Strang is professional engineer and a former Orangeville town councillor with an interest in sustainable development.

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