Planning Act amendments balanced

The MHCA is grateful to Municipal Relations Minister Jeff Wharton and departmental staff for the balanced and progressive amendments to the Planning Act, which flow from two years of intensive multi-stakeholder discussions.

Their cumulative effect for conditional use applications to establish a new pit or quarry, or vary conditions of existing operations, is the introduction of evidence-based decision making and right of appeal to the Municipal Board in the event of denial. We are also grateful to the AMM and its colleague municipalities for having participated in reaching consensus in many areas.

The Planning Act will now require Technical Review Committee reports to be part of the public record for consideration heading into conditional-use hearings. These should help enable informed discussion, and the ability to address local concerns whether related to community or land-use issues. Their use, over time, will help all involved understand the nature of aggregate extraction activities in Manitoba, and how critical they are to the ability of public and private-sector construction projects to be built as cost effectively as possible. They will help the public understand better the contributions to the local economy our industry makes.

And importantly, the changes give life to The Mines Act, the objective of which is to ensure access to and extraction of aggregates in a manner consistent with the principles of sustainable development. Industry supports each of these objectives.

All of the above are measured, balanced approaches.

The story however does not end there. An outcome of the two-years effort was also establishing an ad hoc committee to advise the minister going forward on matters related to and associated with aggregate extraction in Manitoba. Among the areas that advisory committee will examine are adjusting the aggregate haul and mining license fees, and improvement to and funding of the provincial quarry rehabilitation program, which has since 1991 contributed significantly to rehabilitating spent quarries. The MHCA for years has championed updating rehab standards and rationalizing the dedicated extraction levy which pays for the work.

The committee consists of provincial departments, the AMM, the RMs of Rosser, Springfield, Rockwood and Hanover, and MHCA. We look forward to further collaborative work to ensure we, collectively, are part of the solution to challenges, and not the source of problems.

Legislative changes are never easy. We appreciate provincial government leadership on this file. We look forward to working with the AMM and the RMs, where extraction activities are hosted.

Chris Lorenc, MHCA President

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