AGGREGATE IN ONTARIO
Planning Act (online version)
Though the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) administers the licensing of quarries in Ontario through the Aggregate Resources Act (ARA), it is Ontario’s Planning Act, R.S.O. 1990, c.P.13 that sets out land use priorities and determines the decision-making principles according to which the MNRF will grant or deny quarry applications.
Provincial Policy Statement, 2005 (online version)
The current Provincial Policy Statement (PPS) provides direction to decision-makers on matters of provincial interest that relate to land use planning and development, and promotes provincial policy objectives. The PPS is issued under the authority of Ontario’s Planning Act, section 3. All decisions on land use planning that are made at the provincial and municipal levels, including decisions of the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB), must be consistent with the PPS.
Between 1997 and 2005, the key provision of the PPS governing aggregates had read:
18.104.22.168 As much of the mineral aggregate resources as is realistically possible will be made available to supply mineral resource needs, as close to markets as possible.
In 2005, the language of the PPS was amended to state as follows:
22.214.171.124 As much of the mineral aggregate resources as is realistically possible shall be made available as close to markets as possible. Demonstration of need for mineral aggregate resources, including any type of supply/demand analysis, shall not be required, notwithstanding the availability, designation or licensing for extraction of mineral aggregate resources locally or elsewhere.
The 2005 Provincial Policy Statement is currently undergoing a five-year review. During the review process, it has been argued by the Niagara Escarpment Commission that the lack of requirements to include an analysis of supply and demand is a barrier to undertaking comprehensive planning that would ensure that establishment of new pits and quarries is justified.
KEY TERMS & CLAUSES
Activists are quick to point out that there are significant issues not addressed by the Aggregate Resources Act or its underlying policies:
- Social Licence Clause – requiring that existing operators earn the right to continue extraction through responsible operations, timely and progressive rehabilitation and ensuring that the local community is happy with the way business is conducted. Social licence becomes particularly important when the operator is applying for expansion.
- Justification Clause – prospective aggregate operators should be able to justify need for product. Aggregate is a “commons” asset, belonging to all Canadians. It is extracted at a cost to the people and to future generations. Comprehensive analysis and full cost accounting should take place to justify further extraction and the costs incurred by society.
- Food and Water First Clause – food and water is of extreme importance to Canadians – we literally cannot live without either. Food and water security should not be trumped by aggregate extraction.
- Greenspace Clause – currently the Aggregate Resources Act trumps all other legislation including the Green Belt, Oak Ridges Moraine and Niagara Escarpment protections. Are these greenspaces being preserved today for aggregate extraction tomorrow?
- Commitment to Conservation - aggregate is a non-renewable resource and extraction is destructive, yet we price, ship and use virgin product as if supply is boundless. Section 2.4.1 “Minerals and petroleum resources shall be protected for long-term use” should require conservation, recycling and alternate materials use.
- Commitment to Recycling – in accord with Section 2.4.1 “Minerals and petroleum resources shall be protected for long-term use” should require use of recycled and alternate materials where possible. The current policy statement does not encourage new technologies since it increases market supply of non-renewable virgin aggregate through ease of restriction, and favours traditional aggregate industry operations by attempting to keep the price low.
- Cummulative Impacts Clause – in recognition of the more than 3,700 licences and 3,300 permits (www.toarc.com) of active aggregate sites currently in Ontario, new aggregate proposals should be required to assess the cumulative affects of dust, noise, air quality, traffic, emissions, and effects on water sources on their local area.
- Sunset Clause – providing communities with a ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ for when an exhausted aggregate operation will cease to function and become rehabilitated to the promised use. Operators have a tendency to keep a near exhausted site active enough to avoid rehabilitation, which is expensive or applies for an expansion (Walker Industries, Duntroon) or accepts commercial fill. The promised park or estate housing never materializes. (Brock Aggregates - Tottenham pit)
Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources – Aggregates Online
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*** Notice that the information on this web page and the associated website have been compiled through private amateur research for the purpose of allowing the reader to make an informed and educated decision. However, while the information is believed to be reliable, accuracy cannot be guaranteed. ***