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Gravel chided by environmentalists

Regional News

April 17, 2009 12:27 PM


From playgrounds to sidewalks, gravel is everywhere and not something to which we give much thought.

But local municipalities will use 1.5 billion tonnes of the crumbly stuff over the next 25 years, doing irreparable damage to the Greenbelt, according to a report by the Toronto Environmental Alliance.

"Dig Conservation, Not Holes," was released at a Toronto press conference Wednesday.

"I do believe we're at a turning point, " said Sarah Harmer, a singer and co-founder of Protecting Escarpment Rural Land.

"We know that water is a finite resource and these ecosystems are irreplaceable."

"Unless we change the path we're on, we will destroy precious land on the Niagara Escarpment and other parts of the Greenbelt," alliance campaigner Jamie Kirkpatrick said.

There is little information out there about how we harvest the stone, sand and gravel known as aggregate which we use to build our cities, they said.

Most of it comes from pits and quarries around the GTA, and 75 per cent of aggregates in the GTA come from Greenbelt and the Niagara Escarpment and Oak Ridges Moraine.

"While a bag of stones or gravel may look fairly benign, the process of getting it to us is anything but benign. Aggregate is mined from the earth, either dug out of pits or blasted out of quarries," the report states.

Those methods wreak havoc on groundwater and animal habitats, undermining our environment and the farmers who work on it.

If the trend continues, we won't be able to rebuilt what we have lost, the alliance said.

Changes to the building code and reuse of road asphalt and other materials can reduce our reliance on "virgin" aggregateGr.

The alliance urged every municipality in the GTA to reduce, reuse, and recycle aggregate and at least one local politician was listening.

"I think the recommendations in this report should be considered and adopted by every municipality in the GTA as soon as possible," Markham councillor Erin Shapero said.

As published at: http://www.yorkregion.com/article/90733

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