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Province to consult on Quarry Rehab Program restart

The Agriculture and Resources Development Department has committed to consult with the Provincial Aggregate Advisory Committee on improvements to the Quarry Rehab Program, following the release of an Office of the Auditor General report last month.

The department made the commitment in response to a letter to ARD Minister Blaine Pedersen from the Association of Manitoba Municipalities and the Manitoba Heavy Construction Association, encouraging a timely restart to the program for the 2020 construction season.

“The work of the Provincial Aggregate Advisory Committee (PAAC) is appreciated and the recommendations will be considered as we develop the path forward for quarry rehabilitation,” noted the department in its June 8 response.

“As you can understand, the recommendations of the OAG have only been recently received and have significant implications for the program. The department is working as quickly as possible as we are aware of industry’s interest in the resumption of a program for the 2020 construction year.”

The AG’s investigation found the program, entirely administered by the Mines Branch, lacked appropriate management oversight and internal controls, including on revenue reporting. It noted inspectors had far too much responsibility and the program focused on spending, not prioritizing the most pressing projects.

“We broadly support the recommendations within the Auditor General’s report and we want our industry reviews to be reflected in the practical measures taken to improve the program,” MHCA President Chris Lorenc said. “It is critical that the referenced consultations with PAAC take place well in advance of decisions made to program improvements.”

AMM Executive Director Denys Volkov said the AMM supports outcomes that benefit local communities, industry and the environment.

“PAAC was created to serve as a forum for discussion regarding such topics and should be convened for those purposes,” Volkov said.

The AMM, MHCA and a number of capital region municipalities sit on the PAAC with representatives from a number of provincial departments.

The PAAC has recommended to the province the program’s standards be updated, and that there be an increase in the quarry rehab fee producers pay, per tonne of aggregate extracted, into the province’s quarry rehab reserve.