By Chris Halliday
Trucks may haul some demolition debris into the Melville pit to be recycled, if the province approves Olympia Sand and Gravel’s application to operate the 291-acre gravel pit near Orangeville.
When Ontario’s new Provincial Policy Statement (PPS) came into effect last Wednesday (April 30), a clause promoting the inclusion of recycling facilities at gravel pits and quarries was approved with it.
Through that legislation, gravel pits and quarries are being encouraged to recycle materials such as concrete and asphalt that may contain glass, ceramics and brick into clean, reusable aggregate.
It’s essentially demolition debris, according to Caledon resident Bob Shapton, a member of PitSense, which was formed to respond to aggregate proposals in Caledon several years ago.
Of the potential impact, Shapton feels the “most urgent” deals with the aggregate recycling activities that may occur at the Melville pit.
“We support the increased use of recycled aggregate,” Shapton explained. “We just don’t want processing demolition debris in proximity to our aquifers and causing air emissions near sensitive land uses like residences.”
It’s important not to blow things out of proportion, explained Olympia Sand and Gravel president Larry Pevato.
“A lot of people misconstrue recycling with waste,” Pevato said. “This is basically clean concrete and road asphalt only. No steel, no garbage, no nothing.”
Olympia plans to extract 1.2 million tonnes of gravel from the site on Willoughby Road in Caledon, about one km outside Orangeville. Caledon has already green-lighted the project, which still requires approval from the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR).
Ministry staff are expected to submit a recommendation to Minister David Orazietti soon. By mid-May, Olympia’s licence could be approved, denied or referred to the OMB.
A group of residents forming CAMP (Citizens Against the Melville Pit) plan to fight the decision made by Caledon council at the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB). CAMP has raised concerns about the pit’s potential impact on water and air pollution.
“We’re doing everything right,” Pevato countered, noting the company’s application conforms to Caledon’s Official Plan and MNR guidelines.
As Shapton noted, Olympia plans to pursue some aggregate recycling opportunities. As well, Caledon’s Official Plan and now the province are both encouraging it, he added.
“It’s open season,” Shapton quipped. “The approval by the agencies is virtually a slam dunk.”
When operational, it’s anticipated the Melville pit would average about 460 truck trips per day along the designated haul route of Porterfield Road to County Road 109 and south on Hwy. 10.
Traffic studies don’t take the hauling of aggregate demolition debris in and recycled material out of the site into account, according to Shapton.
He fears dust containing toxins from demolition debris hauled to aggregate operations could be released into the air. Recycling facilities at gravel pits and quarries may pose a threat to groundwater as well, he argued.
While recycling facilities will be encouraged “whenever feasible,” May Nazar, spokesperson for the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, noted the PPS and Aggregate Review Approval (ARA) process protect the environment.
Nazar said aggregate operators need approval from the MNR and host municipality to recycle aggregate on site. When municipal zoning doesn’t permit it, the request would be posted on the Environmental Registry for public comment.
“The conservation of aggregate resources, including recycling, is a key component of managing the resource,” Nazar said in an email. “Any concerns about potential environmental impacts and/or mitigation measures would be considered in the decision.”