Guelph/Eramosa supports moratorium on new gravel mining licenses

GUELPH/ERAMOSA – Council here is endorsing the call for a moratorium on new gravel mining licenses in Ontario.

On April 19 council heard from members of the community, including Reform Gravel Mining Coalition (RGMC) representative Doug Tripp, requesting the moratorium to facilitate a study.

Conducted by a third party, the study would examine aggregate reserves to look at the provincial policies surrounding the gravel industry and its impacts.

This, Tripp explained, would allow the industry “to continue in a way that makes sense in terms of all the other competing priorities that exist in the province.

“Gravel mining as we’ve come to know it is not a benign activity and there’s a lot of implications for a small community like Guelph/Eramosa Township,” he stated.

“Municipalities in our view are caught in the middle of a very difficult situation … such that many communities now have come forward in view of the campaign that we’ve launched to express those concerns.”

The moratorium would allow the province to put a pause on all new gravel pit licenses, approvals and amendments.

Tripp noted this will not shut down the industry and existing operations will continue to operate.

“Employment will continue, production will continue, while this assessment is going on and then our hope is that the industry can work more in concert with other priorities,” he explained.

The resolution, approved by council during the Tuesday afternoon meeting, acknowledges gravel pits and quarries:

  • are destructive of natural environments and habitats;
  • have negative social impacts on host communities in terms of noise, air pollution and truck traffic; and
  • have property assessments well below true market value due to the exploitation of tax loopholes, requiring residents and businesses to subsidize their operations.

Proponents say the moratorium would eliminate unfair property tax loopholes and allow the province to assess properties at true market value.

“I would support this motion,” said councillor Corey Woods.

“I think everyone should pay their fair share in tax and if they’re not paying their fair share in tax that has to be rectified.”

The Township of Puslinch has already endorsed the moratorium, as have other area municipalities, including Woolwich, Milton, Cambridge, Peel Region and Halton Hills.

While there are many components to the resolution, Mayor Chris White said from the township’s perspective, the big concern is property assessment.

“One of the things that made it easy for me … was the tax assessment piece of this,” White said.

“The system is broken on many levels but this one is glaring.”

He offered the example of a business located on a 100-acre property paying roughly $195,000 a year in property taxes, while in the same vicinity, a similar size quarry was paying only $13,000.

“This isn’t just for quarries, this is for everybody,” White told the Advertiser.

“It’s not reasonable to expect one business or one resident to pay more taxes than their neighbour if they’ve got the same parameters.”

White noted the county is also pursuing the issue and will be developing its own process to address it.

“I understand that the county has been asked to look at this at this resolution,” he said, adding “we’ll just see how that plays out.”

To view the full resolution, visit the township’s website.