November 2011 State and Province News
Michels Materials’ Quarry Quest in Neenah drew what may be a record-breaking crowd of 15,000. Craig Uhlenbrauck, Quarry Quest co-chair, told the Post Crescent that he believed the event had raised more than $940,000 during its tenure and this year’s event looked to put it past the $1 million mark. Proceeds benefit local children’s charities, including the Quarry Quest Environmental Education Fund. Activities at the event included controlling a crane, creating gemstone jewelry, and riding a boom lift to get an aerial view of the site. One new activity, the “Wishful Diamond Dig,” allowed adults to fill sand buckets for one minute with the goal of finding prize tokens for a local jeweler. Proceeds from that event went to the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Wisconsin.
The City of University Place has proposed rezoning of a property to stop its owner from mining gravel on it. The News Tribune reports the owner had applied for a permit to mine a portion of his property and had previously won permitting battles against the city for such permission. The city’s attorney, Steve Victor, asked the owner’s attorney for an option other than mining near the city’s gateway. The response was to rezone the property as neighborhood commercial, which is a more valuable land use. In a twist, neighbors of the site are objecting to the rezoning because they believe it is likely to result in a gas station. Other neighborhood commercial options include banks, convenience stores, and offices. The neighbors have said they would prefer the short-term impacts of a mine over the permanent headaches of a commercial enterprise.
A recently released survey shows that Ontarians are in favor of a certification system for responsibly sourced aggregate materials. The Ipsos Reid survey (available online at www.ipsos-na.com/news-polls/) found that 85 percent of respondents believe that a voluntary certification system that recognizes environmentally and socially responsible aggregate operations is a good idea. “As a leading supplier of aggregate in the GTA (greater Toronto area) and adjacent municipalities, we find these results affirm that a certification program like SERA would be supported,” said Andrea Bourrie, director, planning and regulatory affairs, Holcim Canada Inc. “These results clearly indicate that, by and large, communities recognize that aggregate operations are important for the economy and for building strong, livable communities. The results also imply that the aggregate planning and approval process would be less confrontational if a certification system was being adhered to.” In June, Socially and Environmentally Responsible Aggregates (SERA) released a set of draft standards that propose voluntary operating procedures that would allow operators a third-party assessment of their social and environmental practices. Those standards are currently under review and revision by a stakeholder group that includes municipalities, environmental and community groups, and the aggregate industry.
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