Mulmur council supports moratorium on new gravel licences

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Supporters of a grassroots campaign DAMN – Demand a Moratorium Now – are calling on Mulmur to join those advocating for a pause on all new aggregate operations until an independent panel can find a way to better regulate them while giving thecommunity a say and honouring treaty rights.

Leah Pressey and Peter Yam appeared before Mulmur council on Wednesday in support of the Reform Gravel Mining Coalition’s campaign. Partners in the campaign include Environmental Defence, The Wilderness Committee, The Council of Canadians and The Water Watchers, with the support of 38 community groups that have joined the coalition, and supported by a petition signed by almost 6,000.

They say 16 councils have voted to support the moratorium so far.

The delegation is asking Mulmur council to add its name to the list of municipalities that agree the gravel mining industry in Ontario is broken, and establish a pause in order to fix the chronic issues associated with the industry.

“The issue here is that gravel mining is not benign it is not a harmless activity,” said Pressey. “It destroys existing natural environments and can damage communities. The products from gravel mining feed highway sprawl and climate change.”

She said that municipalities have little oversight over mining but remain ultimately responsible for water quality.

“We should be attempting to minimize the number of gravel mines in Ontario, unfortunately the opposite is happening,” said Pressey.

According to the Reform Gravel Mining Coalition gravel production outweighs gravel use: Thirteen times more gravel is mined annually than is used, destroying 5,000 acres of land per year, and using 4.6 billion litres of water per day, while aggregate companies are paying less property tax than some single family home owners.

“So we’re scarring more land but producing less gravel,” said Pressey.

They are calling on reforms to the current system which favours corporations, does not require them to demonstrate a need for new gravel mines, places an unfair burden on residents to protect land, and ignores the rights of Indigenous Nations.

“We’re calling on the provincial government to impose an immediate moratorium, a temporary pause on new gravel mining approvals,” said Yam, allowing time for assessment of policies and priorities, and independent expert planning to inform a better way of approving gravel extraction.”

He said this will allow current mining operations to continue and will not result in a gravel shortage, as indicated by the data.

“We have to stop gravel from adding to the chaos of climate change. We have to protect our groundwater and farmland,” said Yam.

“The current process and power structure is woefully out of date,” said Councillor Shirley Boxem who put forward a motion to support the moratorium. “Let’s put a hold on future [licence approvals] and let’s try to get this process right and balanced, relying on third party information instead of industry information, which tends to be in one direction.”

Later in the afternoon, council voted unanimously to support the call for a moratorium.

“It’s important to demonstrate that as a community we would like to a fairer process because right now it’s going in there whether you like it or not. I know no-one wants it in their backyard but there should be some sort of consultation process,” said Boxem.

To sign the DAMN petition, visit www. reformgravelmining.ca.

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