Program financed by aggregate producers critical to resource management, environment
Manitoba’s Quarry Rehabilitation Program is critical to responsible resource development and there is so much more it could accomplish, MHCA President Chris Lorenc says.
The MHCA was invited to a discussion with the Manitoba Clean Environment Commission October 20. The CEC is broadly reviewing rehabilitation of oil and gas, mining, and sand and gravel development sites in Manitoba, and across Canada.
Since the 1990s, the provincial program has charged a levy to producers based on the tonnage of aggregate extracted from pits or quarries, typically found on private land. Levy revenues are held in a provincial account to fund land rehabilitation once the pit or quarry is spent. Application is made to the provincial Mines Branch for approval; branch inspectors ensure the work is completed as planned.
Rehabilitation of spent pits and quarries allows the site to be brought back to a more natural state or developed for a purpose desired by the community where it is located.
MHCA and its partners in aggregate resource management – including the Association of Manitoba Municipalities – have been wanting to update the standards of the Quarry Rehabilitation Program and the per-tonne levy for years. It is awaiting the province, as a participant, to green light the review.
“We’ve been asking for a review of standards because it allows Manitoba to review what other jurisdictions are doing,” noted Lorenc.
“MHCA and municipalities haven’t had the opportunity as yet to sit down with the province to discuss what does rehabilitation mean and to what standard – what does progressive rehabilitation look like.”
Progressive rehabilitation repurposes sections of a larger site where aggregate extraction is completed. Small and large rehab projects have equal access to the levy revenue account because that encourages stewardship within the industry and among landlords, helping to ensure rehab happens where needed.
Greater coordination in rehab planning and policy could see a series of spent sites being developed in a cohesive strategy – linking pits within or between communities, for example – for a greater benefit, such as a recreational system. That kind of cooperation could be promoted by an updated Quarry Rehabilitation Program, Lorenc said.
At present, the purpose and the level of rehabilitation is entirely left to the landowner.