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5. The Current Path: More Greenbelt Destruction

Over the next 25 years, the GTA will need to renew its urban infrastructure. At the same time the GTA will need to house millions more new Ontarians. This will mean building new urban infrastructure to accommodate a larger population while trying to minimize development that destroys our remaining natural spaces. Aggregate will be required to meet these pressing needs.

The question GTA residents – in particular elected officials – need to ask themselves is whether they want this aggregate demand to be met by destroying precious ecologically-sensitive land and farmland, much of it in the Greenbelt?

To provide a picture of what is at stake, consider how much land would be required to mine the 1.5 billion tonnes of aggregate needed to sustain our annual usage. Imagine a 60 foot hole (roughly the size of a 6-storey building) that starts at Toronto’s Bloor Street to the north, the Kingsway to the west, Greenwood Avenue to the east all the way down to the lake (see “Toronto’s Big Pit” map) This volume of space, roughly 35 km2, would contain the GTA’s gravel needs over the next 25 years.[See Appendix 1 for details on how these figures were developed.]

Another way to picture this is by comparing the required volume of space to Canada’s biggest aggregate quarry, in the heart of the Niagara Escarpment. For those familiar with travelling on Highway 401 westbound, this quarry is just north and west of Milton, Ontario. From the westbound 401, you can just see a gash in the middle of the escarpment, just north of the highway as you pass Milton, to your right. The quarry area is about 1,100 acres. The expanded Milton quarry map illustrates the amount of natural space required to sate this 25 year aggregate demand.

While it is unlikely that one quarry would provide all the aggregate required by the GTA, it is very likely that 35 km2 of precious agricultural and ecologically-sensitive land in and around the Greenbelt will be destroyed to meet the GTA’s aggregate needs.

Put simply, if the GTA doesn’t adopt policies that minimize future aggregate mining in the Greenbelt, we will be devastating the livelihood of farmers that provide us with local food, we will be harming local communities close to the pits and quarries, and we will be destroying ecologically-sensitive lands that provide important ecological services that benefit us all.