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Province pressed to restart quarry rehab program; industry, communities chafing at delay

Pits and quarries in need of rehabilitation are becoming growing sources of conflict in some communities, underscoring the need to restart Manitoba’s Quarry Rehabilitation Program this summer, MHCA President Chris Lorenc says.

“The program has been reviewed, its internal management issues were laid out with recommendations by the Auditor General for the responsible department months ago,” Lorenc noted. “It is time now the province allow for the rehabilitation work to restart.”

The MHCA has been in repeat contact with the responsible department, now called Agriculture and Resource Development, which administers the Quarry Rehabilitation Program and the fund built through fees paid by aggregate producers extracting tonnage from pits and quarries.

That account funds work to return spent pits and quarries to a more useable state for the landowners and communities where they are located. Since the program was suspended in 2018, none of that work has been approved by the province.

“We are hearing of growing impatience in some communities. Spent pits and quarries should not be left in arrested states where they can become irritants and eyesores – or worse, dangerously attractive if they fill with water.”

Lorenc said the MHCA is asking, once again, for a sign the government has decided how it will be restarting approvals for work this summer.

Manitoba’s Budget 2020 allocated $2.8 million from the quarry rehab account to Agriculture and Resource Development’s “regulatory services” program to be used this year. The remaining $5.339 million is reported under other appropriations for use this year, as well.

The program was suspended in 2018 after an internal review of it began in the Mines Branch. The branch and its inspectors had complete responsibility for the program, which began in 1992 and served as a model for similar programs across Canada.