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4. Where our "Virgin" Aggregate Comes From

Ontario’s most recent report on aggregate production states that aggregate was supplied from 3,764 licensed aggregate sites on private land in designated parts of the province and 3,361 permitted sites on Crown Land.[1] Traditionally, pits and quarries are sited close to where the aggregate is used. Over 75% of the aggregates used in the GTA come from the Niagara Escarpment and the Oak Ridges Moraine, two extremely important and ecologically sensitive areas.[2] In other words, the majority of the GTA’s aggregate has come from the world-renowned Greenbelt surrounding the GTA. This countryside is home to farmers (who increasingly supply us with local food), vibrant rural communities, incredible tourist destinations, and diverse ecosystems that provide us with many important ecological services.[3]

Many of Canada’s biggest aggregate quarries are situated on the Niagara Escarpment, designated by the United Nations as a World Biosphere Reserve. The Escarpment is home to over 40% of Ontario’s rare species and a major source water area for Southern Ontario.[4] Hundreds of other active or abandoned pits and quarries also blemish the Greenbelt, disrupting both agricultural and ecologically important land.

[1] The Ontario Aggregate Resources Corporation (TOARC). Mineral Aggregates in Ontario Production Statistics, 2007.

[2] Winfield, M and A. Taylor. Rebalancing the Load: The need for an aggregates conservation strategy for Ontario, 2005. The Pembina Institute, pg 9.

[3] On ecological services provided by the Greenbelt, see David Suzuki Foundation report called “Ontario’s wealth Canada’s
future: Appreciating the Value of the Greenbelts’ Eco-Services” available at www.greenbelt.ca/sites/ourgreenbelt.ca/files/DSF-Greenbelt-Web1.pdf

[4] Niagara Escarpment Commission. http://www.escarpment.org/about/ecology/flora/index.php.