Pitfalls in Greenbelt Protection Unearthed

    Provincial parties challenged to reform stone, sand and gravel
    legislation and adopt North America's first Green Standard for gravel

    TORONTO, Aug. 30 /CNW/ - A new Greenbelt priorities paper, released today
by the Ontario Greenbelt Alliance, highlights the environmental effects of
aggregate extraction and makes the case for provincial reform of this
unsustainable land use.
    Aggregate extraction is essentially open pit mining. With it, comes all
kinds of ecological injustices, including threatening already endangered
species, fragile forests and wetlands; taking massive amounts of drinking
water; releasing harmful pollution to our air from thousands of truck journeys
per day; and leaving permanently scarred landscapes. All this is happening in
and just beside Ontario's protected Greenbelt, 1.8 millions acres of green
space, farmland and natural areas in the Greater Golden Horseshoe region.
    "You wouldn't expect this kind of environmental devastation in the pride
of Ontario - our Greenbelt," said Dr. Rick Smith, Executive Director,
Environmental Defence.
    In response to the ever increasing numbers of proposed gravel pits and
quarries which threaten the integrity of the Greenbelt, the Ontario Greenbelt
Alliance has launched its Green Gravel Campaign with a new paper - Green
Gravel: Priorities for Aggregate Reform - directed to the provincial
government and all political parties. Despite the Greenbelt designation,
quarries continue to be proposed and approved in environmentally significant
areas including farmland, escarpment and moraine.
    "The Green Gravel Campaign hopes to expose longstanding issues that have
been kept under the radar of public consciousness," said Sarah Harmer,
Co-Chair, Protecting Escarpment Rural Land (P.E.R.L.). "In fact there are more
than 25 pieces of legislation and policy that apply to aggregates extraction,
and yet there is little to prevent the Greenbelt from being trucked away one
load at a time. It's time to take a closer look at how the law is
    On top of the immediate impact of quarries on Greenbelt lands, there are
other issues of concern that need addressing: the rights and interests of
First Nations, climate change, protection of our water, and protection of
viable farmland.
    "Ontario has an opportunity to lead the way in setting a groundbreaking
green standard for this industry," said Penny Richardson, President, Coalition
of Concerned Citizens (CCC).

    In its priority paper, the Ontario Greenbelt Alliance makes several key

    1. Develop and put in place a long term conservation strategy for
       aggregates (stone, sand, gravel and shale) - reduce, reuse, recycle.
    2. Stop new aggregate extraction in the Greenbelt and abutting
       agricultural land.
    3. Redesign licensing and permit approvals to make it fair to the public.
    4. Develop effective mechanisms for operations and rehabilitation
       compliance - the industry currently monitors itself.
    5. Address personal and environmental health concerns - carcinogenic dust
       and carbon dioxide.

    "Aggregates are important to society, used in our homes, schools,
hospitals, roads and transit," said Graham Flint, Chair of Friends of Rural
Communities and the Environment (FORCE). "But their extraction has inherently
detrimental effects on our air, water, climate and quality of life. A finer
balance needs to be struck."

    Green Gravel: Priorities for Aggregate Reform is available to download
    for free on the Ontario Greenbelt Alliance web site at www.greenbelt.ca.

    About the Ontario Greenbelt Alliance:

    The Ontario Greenbelt Alliance is a diverse multi-stakeholder coalition
of more than 80 organizations who share a common vision for protecting and
expanding the Golden Horseshoe Greenbelt. Environmental Defence is the
coordinator of the Ontario Greenbelt Alliance. www.greenbelt.ca.

For further information:

For further information: or to arrange interviews: Jennifer Foulds,
Environmental Defence, (416) 323-9521 ext 232, (647) 280-9521 (cell); Sarah
Harmer, Co-Chair, P.E.R.L., (416) 461-4454; Penny Richardson, President, CCC,
(905) 838-2590; Graham Flint, Chair, FORCE, (905) 659-5417

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