With Greater Toronto poised to start an infrastructure building boom, environmentalists say it’s time for politicians to require the use of recycled gravel, sand and stone in projects instead of digging new quarries on prime land.
“While a bag of stones or gravel may look fairly benign, the process of getting it to us is anything but benign,” warns a Toronto Environmental Alliance report released yesterday. “(It’s) mined from the Earth, either dug out of pits or blasted out of quarries.”
And the impact of digging huge holes on the Niagara Escarpment or Oak Ridges Moraine is significant, affecting water supply, destroying wetlands, plant and aquatic habitats as vegetation, topsoil and subsoil are removed, the report adds.
Projections are the region will need 1.5 billion tonnes of gravel for roads, bridges, sewers and buildings in the next 25 years. If only new stone were used, it would create the equivalent of a hole six storeys deep from The Kingsway to Greenwood Avenue, and from Bloor Street to the lake.
Singer Sarah Harmer believes if people realized their basements were being constructed from rock carved out of a precious ecological area, they would want politicians to act, the report suggests.
“I do believe we are at a turning point,” said Harmer, who has opposed a plan to expand a quarry near her family’s Burlington home. “We know water is a finite resource, and these ecosystems are irreplaceable.”