Recent Media Coverage

OSSGA provides overview on important environmental issues

Friday December 5, 2014

By Dan O'Reilly
Daily Commercial News

Judging by the sold-out audience at a recent Ontario Stone, Sand & Gravel Association (OSSGA) environmental workshop, there is strong interest in the environment by the industry.

The rehabilitation of the Wildwood Pit in Wildwood Conservation Area in St. Mary’s by the Upper Thames River Conservation Authority was recognized with a Bronze Plaque from the Ontario Stone, Sand & Gravel Association.

The rehabilitation of the Wildwood Pit in Wildwood Conservation Area in St. Mary’s by the Upper Thames River Conservation Authority was recognized with a Bronze Plaque from the Ontario Stone, Sand & Gravel Association. - Photo: Ontario Stone, Sand & Gravel Association

About 35 quarry operations and maintenance staff attended the day-long event which featured key speakers from the industry and consultants. The workshop featured topics such as environmental law, aggregate resources management, measures to control dust and noise, and the intricacies of the Endangered Species Act and how it can impact aggregate licenses. Another subject was spills and how to control them.

"Each company should have a spills resolution plan," said Colin Evans, CBM Aggregates lands manager, who is also a member of the association's environmental committee. He was a participant in a best practice panel discussion with Trevor Swift and Jay Dolan of WSP Canada Inc.

Held at the association's Mississauga headquarters, the workshop was intended to provide a "high level overview" of environmental matters, says OSSGA environmental and education manager Cynthia Robinson.

As part of its mandate, the association has a number of primarily volunteer member committees who focus on issues such as rehabilitation. With the help of those committees, it has developed a number of operator guidelines such as water management and water source protection, she says.

"We're water handlers, not consumers. We don't use chemicals for cleaning aggregate," says Robinson, in commenting about some of the perceptions about the industry.

Currently, guidelines are being updated to reflect regulatory changes for the management of bank swallows and bank swallow habitat in pits and quarries.

According to Ontario Nature, sand and gravel pits are as suitable for burrowing for these birds as traditional habitats, such as shoreline cliffs.

"Producers want to do the right thing," says Robinson, pointing that many of the guidelines are just codifying what is already been carried out in pits and quarries.

Touching on other association initiatives, she refers to its Bronze Plaque which is its highest honour for pit and quarry rehabilitation.

Only 20 sites have earned the award since the program was established in 1975. Recipients have include the Royal Botanical Gardens in Hamilton and Toronto's Don Valley Brick Works Park.

In September, the award was given to the Upper Thames River Conservation Authority for its rehabilitation of the Wildwood Pit, located in the Wildwood Conservation Area in St. Mary's. Key elements of that restoration include the creation of a rare tallgrass prairie plantation, plus a wetland and a pond.

"This (the site) represents the best of the best among the thousands of rehabilitated former aggregate extraction sites in the province," said Ted Wigdor, OSSGA chief executive officer.

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