Open letter: Time to complete review of Aggregate Resources Act

To the members of the Standing Committee on General Government: 
The people of Ontario are eagerly waiting for your Committee to complete the review of the outdated Aggregate Resources Act (ARA). Each day that you fail to act is another day that Ontario’s food and water is not protected. 
The government ordered the review of the ARA in the fall of 2011 under pressure from farmers, citizens and community groups opposed to the Melancthon Mega Quarry. The application for the largest quarry in Canadian history on prime farmland and at the headwaters of five major river systems exposed the flaws in the ARA.
In mid-2012 the Standing Committee on General Government held hearings. Citizens and stakeholders from across the province made submissions outlining concerns with the ARA and suggesting important changes to the ARA.
It is clear from submissions made during hearings on the ARA and from my travels across the province that the people of Ontario are deeply concerned that aggregate extraction takes priority over the protection of local food and water. Updating the ARA is an essential step in managing competition for finite resources — water, farmland, aggregates. It is important for the health of our economy, environment and communities.
The time for action on the ARA is now. Instead, the Standing Committee has turned its sights to auto insurance and traffic congestion in lieu of finalizing the ARA review. While traffic congestion and auto insurance deserve study, I urge you to complete the important work on the ARA this Committee started last year.
A number of people took time from their busy lives to share their concerns regarding the ARA with the Committee. Many individuals and communities are forced to speak out on pits and quarries at their own expense because the ARA needs updated. They should have their concerns respected and reflected in the final report and recommendations. 
It is critically important for your Committee to complete the review of the Aggregate Resources Act. Ontarians are looking for action to protect local food and water now. 
Mike Schreiner
Green Party of Ontario