Hasty Process for Aggregates Resources Act Review

Indigenous Advocacy | Resources and Environment

Aggregates are sand, clay, gravel and rock.  They are extracted from the ground in ways similar to mining, but they are not covered by mining legislation.  According to the Ontario government, about 80% of aggregates are sourced in Southern Ontario.  They have environmental effects, including effects on waters and on Aboriginal and Treaty rights.

The legislation governing the extraction of aggregates has been under criticism for some time from many different groups, including farmers, residents, and First Nations who say that the process is devoid of any process to ensure proper consultation and accommodation.  The legislation also has no process for evaluating cumulative effects on the environment or on Aboriginal and Treaty rights, despite the fact that aggregates extraction occurs in a rather concentrated area of Ontario.

Our clients who are affected by aggregates extraction state that all too often, First Nations consultation and accommodation occurs far too late, if at all.

As part of their election promises, the McGuinty Liberal government promised to do a review of the Aggregates Resources Act.  The Ontario Legislature passed a motion to carry out the all-party review on March 22, 2012.

On the afternoon of Friday May 4, 2012, the Liberals released word, in this press release, that the review would be carried out in 4 half-day sessions, all held in Toronto, the week of May 7, 2012 and the week of May 14, 2012.

Those wanting to make oral submissions have to request to do so by 5 p.m. on Wednesday May 9.  If you want to make written submissions only, they have to be submitted by May 16, 2012.

There are obvious flaws with this review process.  Firstly, we have heard from First Nations in areas where there is a lot of extraction activity that they were not notified the dates the review would be happening, and are now left with little time to prepare.  Secondly, the Standing Committee process that has been set up leaves First Nations little opportunity to comment fully on their experiences with aggregates extraction and the consultation (or lack of it) that happens under the current legislative regime.

We hope that our clients are able to have their voices heard, despite the process undertaken.

By Maggie Wente

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