Manitoba’s resource development division says industry will learn shortly what is to happen this year with the Quarry Rehabilitation Program, suspended since 2018.
“We are turning a new page with this program, and look forward to working with industry and communities in this transition,” a senior official with the division wrote in an email to MHCA May 22. “On that note, we expect to release more details of what is to happen in this construction season within the next few weeks.”
The program was suspended in 2018 amid an internal review by the department (now Agriculture and Resource Development), which was forwarded to the Auditor General for investigation. The AG’s report, released May 20, found mismanagement resulting from weak oversight and poor internal control in the program, which is provincially administered and has operated since 1992.
The MHCA, with the Association of Manitoba Municipalities, has been calling for an update to the standards and the per-tonne levy rate applied to aggregate extraction at pits and quarries. The two organizations have supported the recommendations made for tightening up program management, and for the program to resume this construction season.
“While we have sympathy for many of (Auditor General report’s) recommendations, there are nuances and market realities that have to be appreciated going forward as regards to process, approvals and tendering, to name just a few,” MHCA President Chris Lorenc said, in reply to the division’s May 22 email. “In addition, there is appetite to improve the rehabilitation standards and the quarry rehab levy amount.”
As well, the MHCA is pressing the provincial government on details of its announcement May 7 an additional $513 million in capital infrastructure expenditures will flow over the next two years, to assist in Manitoba’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 business shutdown.
Lorenc said he is in regular discussions with senior provincial officials on the plan, which noted the additional funds would trigger more Manitoba Water Services Board sewer and water projects, highway resurfacing and repairs, and finance municipal infrastructure priorities.