A group looking to ease tension between quarry companies and nearby residents was in Sudbury yesterday seeking input.

The Cornerstone Standards Council is made up of representatives from the aggregate industry, environmental organizations, and community groups and is working on a set of guidelines for the operation of aggregate quarries in the province to help reduce conflicts.

Quarry companies would have to volunteer to comply, in exchange for a special certification to show they are responsible operators.

Jim Gomm is worried about potential noise, dust and erosion from a proposed quarry near his cottage on Rock Lake, south of Sudbury.

He said voluntary standards could be a step in the right direction, if companies take part.

“There doesn't seem to be a requirement on behalf of the aggregate producers to deal with the concerns and issues that are being brought up by the people who are being negatively impacted,” he said.

Collaborative approach

The Cornerstone Standards Council is taking public input on the voluntary standards for quarry operations until March.

The director of outreach for the council said too many fights over quarries end up going all the way to the Ontario Municipal Board.

“The OMB cases go on for many years, [and] cost millions of dollars on both sides,” Nicholas Schulz said.

“Hopefully we can develop this better process forward. And a more collaborative approach that actually takes some of that conflict for both sides.”

For Gomm, any improvement in communication around quarries is welcome news.

“This has been going on for a number of years in our particular case,” he said.

“And we just don't seem to be getting anywhere. None of the provincial agencies seem to want to deal with it, so it has been a very frustrating experience on our part.”

Gomm said he's waiting to see if quarry companies actually adopt the voluntary standards.