A campaign by the Ontario Stone, Sand and Gravel Association (OSSGA) is urging politicians and developers to support local gravel because it’s instrumental to building Ontario.
“What the ad campaign is about really is trying to get back to fundamentals for people and having them really understand that aggregate is the first element of the supply chain,” said Sharon Armstrong, vice-president of communications and operations. “The goal is to create more awareness and more understanding of the raw materials that go into the world we all live in and where those materials come from and why it’s important for both economic reasons and environmental reasons to have that resource as close to market as possible.”
While the OSSGA has run many public-based education campaigns, this one is targeted to politicians and developers specifically. It kicked off in November in Toronto.
“That was transit ads that we did around Queen’s Park and they had a very simple fundamental message which was that ‘gravel builds Ontario,’” said Armstrong. “There were four different billboards: gravel builds schools, gravel builds hospitals, gravel builds roads and gravel builds Ontario.”
The second part of the campaign, launched in January, was geared towards anyone associated with the developer community and the messaging was if access to local gravel disappears so do projects, profit and jobs.
“Oftentimes for developers or people in construction, aggregate is not something you think about in terms of how is that concrete made, how is the glass made that is going into the building, how are bricks made. People often just don’t think down the supply chain in terms of aggregates and we would like them to,” said Armstrong. “We would like the developer community to be a little bit more focused on aggregates so they can help us basically speak to the politicians about the incredible importance of a close to market, close to where it’s needed supply of aggregates.”
The campaign ads, social media posts and videos point people towards the website Gravelfacts.ca which includes information, tools and resources.
“We tried to put together a bunch of resources in terms of everything from where is sand and gravel used, to going deeper with some of the concerns that people have,” Armstrong noted. “There is a video section there that talks about water, for example. There is another one that takes a deep dive into rehabilitation and shows people how that’s done and the care that producers take in terms of bringing the land back to what the rehabilitation plan calls for.”
There is also a lot of misinformation about water, she noted.
“You hear that aggregate sites use a lot of water. We have information that shows that that isn’t true. We move water around the site in order to have a dry working environment, but we actually use very little water. Only less than 10 per cent of that water actually leaves the watershed.”
Armstrong said there can be a lot of “nimbyism” with respect to pits and quarries.
“It’s very important for policy-makers and everyone to understand gravel is not an abstract commodity, it’s a very real commodity that we use in absolutely everything,” said Armstrong. “We always say 250 tons of gravel is required to build a house. When you’re talking about affordable housing right now, you need that close to market aggregate.”
These and other topics will be discussed at the OSSGA’s annual conference, which was supposed to be held in-person next week in Ottawa, but due to the situation with the truck convoy has been moved to Toronto.
The theme is Back to the Future: Smarter. Faster. Stronger. It will be held Feb. 23 and 24 at the Downtown Hilton Hotel with the same agenda.
“We have a session called Where is Everybody? The Quest for Talent,” said Armstrong. “We’re doing a lot of sessions on climate change and rehabilitation techniques in order to deal with climate change.
“We always talk about land use planning and the different rules in terms of the provincial plans and policies and the other big thing now is excess soil.”
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