Aggregate Resources Act





Today’s aggregate resource management policies evolved from the following legislation:


1971 - Pits and Quarries Control Act


1982 - Aggregate Resources Planning Policy


1986 - Mineral Aggregate Resources Policy Statement


1990 - Aggregate Resources Act, last revised December, 2019



Aggregates policy in Ontario has evolved over time from a system in which municipalities had a substantial amount of control over the siting and regulation of aggregate extraction to a primarily province-led system.


Ontario’s aggregate industry first came under significant regulation during the 1950s. Growth in economic activity and the resulting demand for aggregates, combined with the movement of populations into the urban fringe, led to increased impacts on local communities. By the late 1960s, there was increasing conflict between the aggregate industry and municipalities and substantial levels of aggregate production taking place.


Until the 1970s, the Planning Act enabled municipalities to establish by-laws to prevent the opening of new pits and quarries. This changed in 1971 with the introduction of the Pits and Quarries Control Act, which came about in response to a request by the aggregate industry that Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) review aggregates issues in the province.


The Pits and Quarries Control Act established a licensing system for aggregate extraction operations, to be administered by MNR, which applied to important production areas in Southern Ontario, Sault St. Marie and Sudbury.  However, this Act was viewed as insufficient to address the problems associated with the aggregates industry, and concerns were raised about the lack of strong regulations or site plan requirements, and inconsistent enforcement.


Provincial planning for aggregates became increasingly formal in the early 1980s with the cabinet approval of the Aggregate Resources Planning Policy in 1982.


In 1986 the provincial government introduced the Mineral Aggregate Resources Policy Statement (MARPS). This policy statement was made under Ontario’s Planning Act and was a precursor to the Provincial Policy Statement. The MARPS was a key development in the movement towards an explicit close-to-market management strategy for aggregate resources in the province.


The MARPS declared aggregate resources to be a matter of provincial interest and included the provision to preserve as much of the aggregate resource occurring in the municipality as is realistically possible. The Commission on Planning Development and Reform, established in the early 1990s, recommended in its final report, New Planning for Ontario, that this provision of the MARPS be maintained in future incarnations of provincial planning policy.


The recommendations of the Commission on Planning Development and Reform were implemented as the Comprehensive Set of Policy Statements, which formed the basis of the current Provincial Policy Statement (PPS). The general planning principles for aggregates first established in MARPS have continued through to the most recent edition of Ontario’s Provincial Policy Statement.



Aggregate Resources Act


The Aggregate Resources Act (ARA) replaced the Pits and Quarries Control Act in 1990 and added more stringent requirements for aggregate licences including more detailed requirements for site planning, as well as broader geographic coverage that was not previously a part of the Pits and Quarries Control Act.


The ARA governs the management of the aggregate resources of Ontario. The Act controls and regulates aggregate operations located on Crown and private lands through a system of licences and permits. Pits and quarries located on private lands are regulated through the issuance of licences. Pits and quarries located on crown lands are regulated through the issuance of permits.  Temporary “wayside” permits may also be issued to provide aggregates for specific development projects. The ARA also includes requirements for the rehabilitation of land from which aggregate has been excavated. One of the purposes of the ARA is to minimize adverse impact of aggregate operations on the environment.


In 1997, standard criteria were introduced for licence, aggregate permit and wayside permit applications. The Aggregate Resources of Ontario Provincial Standards (AROPS) establish the specific conditions and operational standards that an aggregate extraction operation must follow. However, the standards have been criticized for not establishing tests that producers must meet prior to the approval of a new operation or the expansion of an existing operation.


In addition to the provincial standards, MNR has developed the Aggregate Resources Program Policies and Internal Procedures Manual to guide implementation of the ARA. The manual predates the Provincial Standards but was updated in 2006 to reflect the AROPS, provide additional details on how to interpret the standards in practice and reflect MNR experience with the standards since 1997.


The purposes of the Aggregate Resources Act are to provide guidelines for the management of aggregate resources in Ontario, to regulate aggregate operations on Crown and private lands, to require rehabilitation of land from which aggregate has been excavated and to minimize the adverse environmental impact of aggregate operations.


The Minister of Natural Resources is responsible for the administration of this Act and in doing so the Minister may initiate studies and research related to the aggregate industry including environmental and social matters.


In 2011, to address criticism resulting from an attempt to develop a mega-quarry on prime farmland, the Ontario government established the Standing Committee on General Government, which held “ARA Review” hearings in 2012 [see Appendix C] and released its report including 38 recommendations in October 2013. The Government issued its response in February 2014 generally supporting the spirit of the Standing Committee recommendations.  The ARA was revised on May 11, 2017 through the Aggregate Resources and Mining Modernization Act


In December 2019, changes to the ARA were made through the passing of Bill 132, Better for People, Smarter for Business Act, 2019


In February 2020, further changes were proposed in the Proposal to amend Ontario Regulation 244/97 and the Aggregate Resources of Ontario Provincial Standards under the Aggregate Resources Act. (.pdf))


For an overview of the application process click here.




AO Comment


While the Aggregate Resources Act (ARA) was revised in 2017 and 2019, non-industry groups point out that the amendments failed to address obvious issues in the way Ontario manages aggregate.  For instance:


-          lack of use of alternative and recycled aggregate material (recycling)

-          “close to market” aggregate policy (Provincial Policy Statement (PPS)

-          lack of requirement for aggregate companies to demonstrate "need" for products (Provincial Policy Statement (PPS)

-          lack of data (Lafarge Manitoulin being Ontario's largest limestone quarry was excluded from SAROS despite the fact that it ships out of province/country)

-          strong aggregate lobby and close industry ties with the Ministry of Natural Resources


Broad concerns of any aggregate operation to be taken into consideration are:  heavy truck traffic, loss of water quality, loss of prime farmland, food security, community impact, health impact, loss of long-term jobs, blasting impact (fly rock, accidents, property damage), explosives transportation and storage, dust, loss of air quality, noise pollution, environmental impact, impact on fish, potential to take water, water ownership, potential to export, tax implications, rehabilitation and site after-use.






Any person may apply to the Minister for a licence to remove aggregate from privately owned land that is zoned to allow for aggregate extraction.


o       Class ‘A’ licence allows for removal of more than 20,000 tonnes of aggregate annually from a pit or quarry

o       Class ‘B’ licence allows for the removal of 20,000 tonnes or less


A licence applicant may be required to furnish additional information in such form and manner as is considered necessary by the Minister, and until the information is furnished, further consideration of the application may be refused.


Every application for a licence shall include a site plan and reports in accordance with the Regulations.  These may include reports on planning and land use considerations, quality and quantity of aggregate on site, haulage routes and truck traffic.  An applicant must also furnish information satisfactory to the Minister describing the zoning by-laws applicable to the site and adjacent lands.


Once the application is submitted, the applicant must abide by the prescribed notification and consultation process which, amongst other things, requires that they hold an information session for the public, provide written notice of the application to adjacent landowners, advertise the application in the local newspaper and post a sign on the property indicating that a licence application has been submitted for the site. 

During this 45-day notification period, any member of the public may object or comment on the application, and if they file a written objection with the applicant and the Ministry of Natural Resources within this time, the applicant must attempt to resolve the objections.

Under the Environmental Bill of Rights, the MNR is required to publish new licence applications on the environmental registry for a minimum of 30 days which provides an alternate forum for public or municipal comment or objection.

At the completion of the notification and consultation period, the applicant is required to  submit to the Ministry a summary of all of the objections, how the applicant attempted to resolve the objections, and whether there are any objections that they were not able to resolve.


If there are unresolved objections, the Minister may refer the application to the Ontario Municipal Board for a hearing.  Objectors have an opportunity to attend the hearing and raise their concerns before the Board.


The OMB may then direct the Minister to issue or refuse the licence.  If no hearing is required, the Minister will determine whether or not to issue or refuse the licence.


In both cases, consideration for issuance or refusal shall have regard to:


a) the effect of the operation of the pit or quarry on the environment

b) the effect of the operation of the pit or quarry on nearby communities

c) any comments provided by a municipality in which the site is located

d) the suitability of the progressive rehabilitation and final rehabilitation plans for the site

e) any possible effects on ground and surface water resources

f) any possible effects of the operation of the pit or quarry on agricultural resources

g) any planning and land use considerations

h) the main haulage routes and proposed truck traffic to and from the site

i) the quality and quantity of the aggregate on the site

j) the applicant’s history of compliance with the Act and the regulations, if a licence or permit has previously been issued to the applicant

k) such other matters as are considered appropriate


If the Minister refuses to issue the licence, the applicants may appeal to the OMB.



Tariff / Levy / Tonnage Fee / Royalties


Under the ARA, the owner of a Class ‘A’ licence is required to pay an annual fee of 11.5 cents per tonne of extracted aggregate.  (According to In the Hills Magazine the UK charges $3.22 per tonne.)


In the case of the proposed Mega Quarry, the fee breakdown would be as follows:


12/23 goes to Melancthon


3/23 goes to Dufferin County


1/23 goes to the Aggregate Resources Trust (this money is used to rehabilitate abandoned quarries and is also used for research)


7/23 goes to the Crown


Notice regarding changes to aggregate fees and royalties (.pdf)





The Ontario Aggregate Resources Corporation (TOARC) was incorporated in 1997 to act as trustee of the Aggregate Resources Trust, a trust created under the authority of the Aggregate Resources Act and pursuant to a trust indenture between the Corporation and the Minister of Natural Resources for the Province of Ontario.


TOARC has assumed, in the public interest, the responsibilities provided for in an indenture between the Minister of Natural Resources and the Corporation as of the 27th day of June 1997. Those responsibilities include the collection and disbursement of aggregate fees, the rehabilitation of abandoned pits and quarries, the rehabilitation of sites where licences or permits have been revoked, the collection and publication of production statistics and other information and the education and training of those in or interested in the aggregate industry.


(Source:  SAROS)



Other Provincial & Federal Legislation Affecting Aggregate Extraction


Even when all requirements are met under the Aggregate Resources Act, the licence applicant may still be required to obtain approvals under other legislation, both Provincial and Federal.  This holds true throughout the application process as well as throughout the duration of the quarry or pit operation.


Provincial legislation includes Conservation Authorities Act, Endangered Species Act, Environmental Assessment Act, Environmental Bill of Rights, Environmental Protection Act, Ontario Water Resources Act, Occupational Health & Safety Act, Public Transportation and Highway Improvement Act and the Planning Act.


Federal legislation includes the Fisheries Act, Migratory Birds Convention Act and Species at Risk Act.





Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources – Aggregates Online




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ARA Review Summary (746 characters):  Ontario's Aggregate Resources Act (ARA) is based on 40-year old values. The ARA allows pits/quarries to be dug anywhere including environmentally protected land; it bypasses the environmental assessment process; it does not require that need for the aggregate be established; it requires that pits/quarries be dug "close to market" undermining recycling efforts; it does not take farmland, source water or people's health protection into account. The ARA must be updated. Today’s decisions will have a tremendous impact on the lifestyles of our children. Contact your MPP, the Premier, the Minister of Natural Resources and the Minister of the Environment to tell them it is time to stop developing aggregate resources at the expense of all else.






NEWS – Aggregate Resources Act







'We all use aggregate — every day': Ontario aggregate sector reacts to criticism from group that led Melancthon megaquarry fight

Norman Cheesman, OSSGA


Citizens group that led fight against Melancthon megaquarry reacts to Ontario aggregate industry statements

Karren Wallace, NDACT


Ontario aggregate industry responds to WDGPH concerns about provincial legislation changes

Norman Cheesman, OSSGA


WDGPH fears proposed aggregate act changes put Ontario drinking water at risk



Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry

Ontario Passes Legislation to Modernize Resource Management


Bill 39, Aggregate Resources and Mining Modernization Act, 2017

EBR 012-8443


Rock to Road

OSSGA offers levy update; comments due May 1

OSSGA letter



Manitoulin Expositor

Proposed changes to Aggregate Resources Act draws local opposition

Tom Sasvari


Corporation of the Township of North Dumfries

Letter from the Corporation of the Township of North Dumfries dated April 19, 2017 re: Proposed Fees and Royalty changes in Regulation 244/97





ON Environmental Registry

Schedule 1 of Bill 39 – Aggregate Resources and Mining Modernization Act, 2016 (EBR 012-8443) {comment period from 6-Oct-2016 to 5-Dec-2016}



New rules are being proposed for aggregate extraction on agricultural land

Susan Mann


ON Environmental Registry

Proposal:  A Blueprint for Change: A Proposal to modernize and strengthen the Aggregate Resources Act policy framework (EBR 012-5444)




Milton council backs groups efforts to stop quarry proposal

Rachael Williams

- more AO info


Wellington Advertiser

Queen’s Park Report by Ted Arnott, MPP:  Reform Act, Groves, Pits

Ted Arnott, MPP


Town Council seeking change to provincial aggregate policy for new quarries



Brantford Expositor

Citizen group gets Brant council support for fight against gravel pit

Michael-Allan Marion


Daily Commercial News

Moreen Miller to step down as OSSGA executive director in mid-May




Presentation: Proposed Changes to Ontario’s Aggregate Levy



Orangeville Banner

Open Letter to Sylvia Jones from Carl Cosack, private citizen:  Jones Q&A reveals her true quarry colours

Carl Cosack


Timmins Press

No moss revenues on municipalities

Benjamin Aubé


Creemore Echo

Letter: Government must be pressured

Christina Wigle


Creemore Echo

Letter: ARA Review

Donna Baylis


Orangeville Citizen

NDACT, ALERT not impressed by Aggregate Resource report

Wes Keller


Orangeville Citizen

In My Opinion:  Should it have top priority?

Wes Keller


The Record

ARA review tabled in legislature

Bill Tremblay


Orangeville Banner

Ontario must put farmland first (editorial)



Orangeville Citizen

Committee calls for changes to Aggregate Resources Act



Orangeville Citizen

MPP Jones welcomes release of ARA review report



Ontario’s Legislative Assembly

Report on the Review of the Aggregate Resources Act by the Standing Committee on General Government (57 pgs/10m .pdf)



Orangeville Banner

Food and Water First back from the brink

Chris Halliday


Creemore Echo

Letter: ARA has many flaws - page 1 & page 2

Christina Wigle


Alliston Herald

Group working to change aggregate act

Maija Hoggett


Subcommittee Report (29-Apr-2013).

Subcommittee meetings held on Thurs. 18-Apr-2013 & Mon. 22-Apr-2013.  [Reference transcript at beginning & around 1430]






After much prodding the Standing Committee on General Government was re-assigned the review of the Aggregate Resources Act begun in the first session of the 40th Parliament.



Orangeville Banner

Editorial:  Take action to protect farmland



Green Party of Ontario

Open Letter:  Time to complete review of  Aggregate Resources Act

Mike Schreiner, Leader


Orangeville Banner

Food and water last?

Bill Tremblay


Creemore Echo

Letter: Time for action on aggregate act review

Donna Baylis



The review was effectively cancelled once government was prorogued.  Now that Kathleen Wynne has been named Premier, cabinet has been shuffled and it is business as usual at Queen’s Park, it is time to demand that the ARA Review be finished.

Letter: Time for Action on ARA Review



The legislature was summoned to return on February 19, 2013 and shortly thereafter McGuinty was replaced by Premier Katherine Wynne.




Baupost/Highland Cos withdraws mega-quarry application for aggregate licence.

Press Release



Ontario Legislature Prorogued - Premier Dalton McGuinty stated his intent to resign and moved to prorogue the Ontario legislature, which effectively cleared all works in progress including the pending report from the Aggregate Resources Act review.




The public aspects of the ARA Review hearing are complete.  Now we wait for the Standing Committee on General Government’s report.  It doesn’t hurt however to continue to send your comments to your MPP and the Premier and let them know how fresh food and clean water must be prioritized ahead of aggregate.  We need aggregate, but we need food and water first.


Have a Voice!  Don’t let anyone else make decisions for You and Your Kids.



Sudbury (18-Jul-2012)


6 presentations with all aggregate representatives




Ottawa (16-Jul-2012)


- 5 presentations with all aggregate representatives and the local Federation of Agriculture







18 mixed presentations




Orangeville (27-Jun-2012)


18 presentations with one aggregate representative




Toronto (16-May-2012)


- fourth hearing with 8 presentations including Lafarge, SERA, OFA, and ending with Carl Cosack of NDACT.




Toronto (14-May-2012)


- third hearing with presentations from various groups including Gravel Watch, C Wigle, Townships, etc. for a total of 16 presentations over 4 hours.




Toronto (9-May-2012)


- second hearing with presentations from aggregate industry representatives including OSSGA, St. Mary's and Holcim. 




Toronto (7-May-2012) Transcript

- first hearing with presentations from Gordon Miller, ECO and MNR. 




Standing Committee on General Government Link – watch this site for the upcoming agenda and referrals for the ARA





The provincial government announced that it would be undertaking a review of the ARA in accord with their election promise.  Michael Gravelle (Minister of Natural Resources) announced that “the Standing Committee on General Government review the Aggregate Resources Act and report to the House its observations and recommendations with respect to strengthening the Act. In developing such recommendations, the Committee's focus shall include, but not be limited to, the following areas: The Act's consultation process; How siting, operations, and rehabilitation are addressed in the Act; Best practices and new developments in the industry; Fees / Royalties; and, Aggregate resource development and protection, including conservation / recycling.”


Committee Members Link


Get Status/Participate in the Committee Link


Baylis presentation to Committee (Orangeville 27-Jun-2012)


NDACT/Cosack presentation to Committee (Orangeville 27-Jun-2012)


Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) presentation to Committee (Toronto 9-May-2012?)


Cement Association of Canada presentation (Toronto 9-May-2012?)


Niagara Escarpment Commission letter (17-Jul-2012)




Lori Holloway announces that the Ontario Liberal Party has committed to review the ARA.  The provincial election was held on October 6, 2011.

News release



Status Update – October 21, 2015


A Blueprint for Change:  A Proposal to modernize and strengthen the Aggregate Resources Act policy framework (EBR #012-5444) available for public comment from October 21, 2015 to December 15, 2015. 


Recommendation for Changes to ARA as compiled by D. Baylis


Contact your local Ministers





AO Comment



The time has come to stop developing aggregate resources at the expense of all else.


Ontario's Aggregate Resources Act (ARA) is based on 40-year old values.  The ARA allows pits/quarries to be dug anywhere including environmentally protected land; it bypasses the environmental assessment process; it does not require that proof of need of the aggregate be established; it requires that pits/quarries be dug "close to market" which undermines recycling efforts; it does not take farmland, source water or people's health protection into account.   The ARA and its underlying policies must be updated for today’s values and environmental standards.  What worked in the 1970s does not necessarily work today.  We need to recycle and preserve this finite product.  We need to protect our prime farmland, food security, water resources and at-risk species.  We may have to pay more money for aggregate but we will have to pay either way.  The decisions we make today will have a tremendous impact on the lifestyles of future generations.  Stay in touch with your MPP.  Keep sending those cards and letters to the provincial Minister of Natural Resources and the Minister of the Environment as well as the Premier.  Stay informed.  Don’t let others make these very crucial decisions for your children.