Aggregate News


Aggregate in Ontario - Site Rehabilitation and After-Use



“Sherkston Quarry was flooded in 1917 when the pumps failed. Today, it is known as a good dive spot, with water as deep as 12 metres. The water is clearest from October to June. Besides fish and the submerged quarry pumphouse, divers come to see two locomotive engines and lengths of track that were left behind when the pumps stopped.” (Sep-2010) (video)



Aggregate Site Rehabilitation


With roughly 7,000 pits and quarries in Ontario (more than 3,700 licences and 3,300 permits as per, most with extraction life measuring in decades, rehabilitation is a big issue.  What do landowners do with an exhausted pit?


The options are simple:  leave it “as is” or rehabilitate to an “after use” (residential estates, parkland, landfill site, aggregate recycling site, other business/recreation).


Naturally and legally, the after-life for a below-the-water-table extraction is a pond or lake.  After filling with groundwater and precipitation, the pond or lake is essentially dead without flora, fauna, fish or wildlife.  Gradually Mother Nature will take over, and with expense she can be helped along. 



Responsible Authorities


In Ontario, the responsibilities for pits and quarries are shared by many Ministries, key being the Ministry of Natural Resources.  Management of the sites is guided by the Aggregate Resources Act and underlying policies.


The Ontario Aggregate Resources Corporation (TOARC) is the trustee for the Aggregate Resources Trust created by the Ministry of Natural Resources under the Aggregate Resources Act.  Responsibilities include 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fees, the rehabilitation of abandoned pits and quarries, the rehabilitation of sites where licences or permits have been revoked, the collection and publication of production statistics and other information, and the education and training of those in or interested in the aggregate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.   The Ontario Stone, Sand & Gravel Association (OSSGA) is the sole shareholder of the corporation.


For each tonne of aggregate mined, an aggregate licence fee is applied, of which $0.005 goes to the Abandoned Pits and Quarries Fund/Aggregate Resources Trust aka Management of Abandoned Aggregate Properties (MAAP) program.  “From 1990 to 2011, more than $6.3 million was spent on rehabilitating 540 hectares of land, at an average cost of $11,500 per hectare.”  MAAP



Cost of Rehabilitation


“When the (Aggregate Resources Act) was put into effect back in 1990, the aggregate industry represented by the now Ontario Stone Sand and Gravel Association decided to dedicate half a cent per tonne of licence fees paid by the aggregate producer to a program responsible for rehabilitating these legacy sites.”  Danielle Solondz, TOARC Program Co-ordinator


 “Based on recent levels of extraction in the province, we have about $400,000 to $600,000 made available annually for this program. In addition to rehabilitation, we also fund research with these monies that helps us figure out better ways to do rehabilitation.”    


To date, Management of Abandoned Aggregate Properties (MAAP) program has worked with landowners to rehabilitate more than 680 hectares of land at a cost of nearly $8 million -- free of charge to the landowner.  In Durham, the program has rehabilitated 20 sites covering 30 hectares at a cost of $367,000. 


The rehabilitation of the pit at Heber Down Conservation Area cost $100,000.  (article)



Handling Water – Example:  Holland Marsh


Holland Marsh, a famed Ontario vegetable growing site, operates below the water level in a natural marsh.  Excess water (up to 100,000 gallons per minute) is pumped away through canals to provide access to the nutrient rich soil.  The two Holland Marsh pumps operate as necessary i.e. approximately 6 hours per year at full capacity, and often sitting idle from June to September.  The Holland Marsh pumps do not operate 24 hours per day/7 days per week.  The facility pumps to a depth maximum of 8 feet.


“2.830 hectares of farm land situated in a natural bog. The Marsh was created by constructing earth berms around the marsh in order to keep outside drainage from entering the marsh and by continuously pumping water out from inside the marsh.   The new pumping station was designed in 1990 to provide a pumping capacity of 100,000 gallons per minute using submersible pumps. Three pumps are 175 Hp and one pump is 75 Hp. The pump and motor are a combined unit and are fully submersible. The pumps each sit in a discharge can and pump under the canal road to the Holland River which discharges to Lake Simcoe.  The construction cost of this station was approximately $1,200,000.”  (source:







Denfield private lake – a 40-acre extracted pit on private property is spring fed creating a man-made lake.  Mike Radcliffe opened his property to the 2018 Ontario Summer Games. (article)


Elora Quarry is a tree covered, 79 acre day-use conservation area.  The centre attraction is a 2 acre former limestone quarry encircled by sheer cliffs to up 12 meters (40 feet) high.  Located in Elora, ON. (article) (article)



Glenridge Quarry Naturalization Site – located at 1860 Sir Isaac Brock Way, just off Highway 406, award-winning effort went into creating the park for more than 30 years. The Glenridge Landfill Citizens' Committee formed in 1984 in response to environmental issues attributed to the Glenridge Quarry landfill site.  The group stayed actively involved until 2016, working with the Ministry of the Environment, the City of St. Catharines, the City of Thorold, The Niagara Region and The Niagara Escarpment Commission, to address the environmental concerns and provide a vision for the former quarry and landfill, turning it into an award-winning naturalization site.  (article)



Kelso Quarry Park – From quarry to public conservation area in Ontario’s greenbelt <check article written by Sarah Lowe BSc MSC & Sherry Yundt BA MA FIQ> (article & video 2 mins)



Ken Whillians Resource Management Area is a former quarry.  Gravel was extracted from the site during the construction of Highway 10.  Bob Morris writes “There are 3 ponds. No cement bottoms. They have mostly naturalized on their own. We have added some reefs for fish in the largest pond that have been mostly managed for natural reproduction of minnows, sunfish and bass. Some trout stocking has also occurred. They are generally quite productive with some wetland communities including frogs etc. They have benefited from their location adjacent to the river and other wetlands. We still have plans to add more woody material and possibly to re-grade some of the banks and add diversity and shoreline length. We have sampled fish using a hoop net protocol, but other than a wetland evaluation, Conservation Area Management Plan (draft) and a study done by a University student on the non-native jelly fish there are no other specific studies. The pond closest to the river has been hydrologically altered with a wier in hopes to restore the floodplain watertable. A unique veg community did form due to the lack of soils and permanent water historically.”


Kerncliff Park, Burlington is located on the Niagara Escarpment with magnificent views of the city and Lake Ontario.  The property was the site of the Nelson Quarry which ceased operations in the 1980s.  Kerncliffe Park is part of the Cootes to Escarpment Ecopark System, an innovative project with land-owning agencies working together and with neighbouring landowners to protect and restore their natural lands and secure additional lands to create ecological corridors.


Mamoraton Mine – although mined for iron ore (under 120’ of limestone overburden) rather than aggregate, Mamoraton Mine is an example of open pit mining rehabilitation.  The abandoned hole was owned by the American company Bethlehem Steel Mills of New york and is obviously a former mine with the 550’-750’ depth now filled with water.   The former mine is on private property and closed to the public.  [Could the mounds of “waste rock” surrounding the pit not be used today?]  “There’s a strange beauty to all this destruction.”


            Bob Caverly_ The Mamoraton Mine Song (4 mins)



Oak Park Pit - Owner: King & Benton Development Corp.   Size: 425 acres on Oak Park Road North, Brantford

Status: The company bought the depleted Nelson Aggregates gravel pit in 2003 and attempted to rehabilitate it with a commercial-industrial development, but the deal fell through. The land remains exposed. (11-Apr-2013 article)


Ponds RV Park


Snyders Flats – aggregate pit restored by the Grand River Conservation Authority



TCA Pits - Owner: Telephone City Aggregates, division of James Dick Construction.  Size: 175 acres of depleted gravel pit in Hardy Road area.

Status: TCA is attempting to rehabilitate land with industrial park, residential subdivision and green space. The company also operates a pit along Colborne Street West, Brantford. (11-Apr-2013 article)



Town of St. Marys – once a limestone quarry the site has been rehabilitated for swimming.  The quarry is now a paid attraction as Canada’s largest outdoor freshwater swimming hole. (article)



Trout Quarry, Cornwall (former Cornwall Outdoor Recreation Centre) – So what happens to former pits and quarries?  The aggregate industry likes to tout successful publicly funded recreation areas like Kelso Quarry Park, Elora Quarry.  But what happens when the government support runs out?  Take a look at Trout Lake Quarry, Cornwall (former Cornwall Outdoor Recreation Centre):

"Since the quarry closed, trespassers have thrown garbage along the access roadway and the trails are becoming grown in."

"There's no funding. The province used to care to see there were areas to have fun, but now they don't give a damn - we have to pick up the costs and we don't have the means to pay for our own infrastructure." Tammy Hart, Deputy Mayor, South Stormont

"The land has a very limited value other than recreational." Jim McDonell, MPP






Perhaps one of the more insidious and dangerous uses of an old quarry, see link to AWARE-Ontario’s large-scale fill research





-        5 Repurposed Mines and Quarries That Will Blow Your Mind - 22-Sep-2017 article

-        former coal mine Anthracite Outdoor Adventure Area, Pennsylvania, USA (

-        pumped stored energy project proposed in closed iron mine near Mamora, Ontario (Marmora & Lake)




NEWS – Aggregate Site Rehabilitation







Severn Quarry, Lafarge's Orillia Pit dig up industry awards



CBC News

Barrhaven development vote postponed amid questions about misleading report

Joanne Chianello, Kate Porter


Thorold News

World class park becomes a monument to environmental efforts (6 photos)

Bob Liddycoat


You Need To Visit Canada's Largest Freshwater Swimming Hole In Ontario This Summer

Madeline Forsyth


Peterborough Examiner

Greening a Former Gravel Pit in Peterborough County

Clifford Skarstedt


Daily Commercial News

Kelso Quarry Park an environmental engineering showcase

Dan O’Reilly



Milton limestone quarry has been awarded the highest honour

- Kelso quarry park


Global News

Illegal swimming in Kingston quarry near Highway 15 causes issues for neighbours

Kraig Krause


Colorado town hopes to strike gold by converting old mine into fresh water source

Alicia Acuna

AO Info - Water


CBC News (New Brunswick)

Future of Sackville’s Pickard Quarry in limbo

Tori Weldon


Company receives two rehabilitation awards for Sunderland Pit

Brock Citizen

2018-03-16 (USA)

This Fort Worth quarry will be transformed with hotels, a beach and even a ferris wheel

Gordon Dickson

Quarry Falls Industrial Park


CK grower is second generation to grow nuts

Tom Morrison

- former gravel pit


Minto Ready To Sell Old Gravel Pit

Campbell Cork

2017-10-02 / Brock Citizen

Trees planted on old section of Sunderland gravel pit

Bill Hodgins


5 Repurposed Mines And Quarries That Will Blow Your Mind

Chuck Sudo, Bisnow Chicago


Chatham Daily News

Southwest Ontario groups come together to revitalize old Clear Creek Forest site

Louis Pin


Sunderland Sand & Gravel Pit Open House




Forests Ontario and CBM Partner to Enhance the Sunderland Sand & Gravel Pit



Travel and Leisure

This swimming hole in Canada is the stuff of summer dreams

Melanie Lieberman

- Elora Quarry

- $6.50 entry fee


World Coal (USA)

Peabody Energy's Viking mine receives reclamation award

Harleigh Hobbs

- mining (coal)

- $ + time


Quebec group rallies to save abandoned mine threatened with demolition

Metro News Canada


Enterprise Bulletin

Missing signs irks citizen's group

JT McVeigh

- Conn Gravel Pit, Town of the Blue Mountains


Hamilton Spectator / Toronto Star

Quarry quarrel pits Burlington residents against brick company’s expansion plan

Christopher Reynolds

- 44 year old dormant licence

- Aldershot quarry

- Tyandaga Environmental Coalition


Man dies in suspected drowning at Kingston east quarry



How millions of trees brought a broken landscape back to life




Frustrated over quarry site

Greg Peerenboom

- Cornwall Outdoor Recreation Area aka “trout quarry”

- Township of South Stormont


The Ontario Environmental Review Tribunal says it does not have jurisdiction in the West Quarry Lake issue.

- More AWARE-Ontario Information:  Carmeuse Lime (Beachville) Quarry



Restoration of ‘abandoned’ pit at Heber Down property in Whitby complete

Parvaneh Pessian

- Heber Down Conservation Area (284 ha)

- $100,000 restoration



Infrastructure Ontario stalling on re-opening access to "Trout Quarry" Crown land near Cornwall

Greg Peerenboom

- Trout Quarry, Cornwall

- site after-use:  park? recreation?



Let's get the trout quarry near Cornwall back

Greg Peerenboom



Access problems (Trout Quarry)

Cheryl Hazelton


Northumberland News

The pits in Northumberland - Program rehabilitates thousands of old gravel pits

Dominik Wisniewski


Caledon Enterprise

Cheltenham residents upset about lack of notice on Brampton Brick rehab plan

Matthew Strader


Winston-Salem Journal

Editorial:  The city has time to develop “quarry park” right

US quarry rehabilitation

Developing the quarry would be a major undertaking.


MOE shuts down fill haulage to Taylor’s Road property after second round of testing reveals elevated levels of metals and hydrocarbons

Mary Riley

City of Kawartha Lakes

Former gravel pit


Ontario’s Environmental Registry

EBR 011-3420

Former Lafarge Pit lands, north of Hwy 9 on west side of Airport Road in Dufferin County


Doing their bit for the environment

Kathleen Hay

- renamed Vincent Felix MacDonald Lake

- expropriated by Ontario Hydro



For more information:  Our cratered landscape:  Can pits and quarries be rehabilitated?



“In the north, I don’t think we’ve ever depleted a pit yet.” Mr. Calvin Gilbertson, Bernt Gilbertson Enterprises (ARA Review 17-Jul-2012)





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Disclaimer: This information has 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.







Old pits & quarries never die – they just get expanded (Melrose quarry expansion proposal – existing quarry since 1939) (article) #ONpq

Old pits & quarries never die – they just go deeper #ONpq

Old pits & quarries never die – they just keep taking #ONpq (ERO 019-0714)

Old pits & quarries never die – they just change the site plan (proposal)

Old pits & quarries never die – they just get closed to the public

Old pits & quarries never die – they just get re-opened

Old pits & quarries never die – they just become a public burden #ONpq (article)

Old pits & quarries never die – they just fill with water #ONpq

Old pits never die, they just request expansion #ONpq (Eek Pit expansion)

Old pits never die -- they just keep expanding #ONpq #Teedon #expansion #ProtectOurWater #FoodAndWaterFirst (article)




Objection:  Rehabilitation Unlikely


Gordon Miller, Environmental Commissioner of Ontario, stated on May 7, 2012[1]  that “because of the competitive pressure for land, pits now are often rehabilitated to residential or commercial developments.” 


Mr. Rick Bonnette, Mayor of Halton Hills and Vice-Chair of the Greater Toronto countryside Mayors Alliance, noted on May 16, 2012[2]   that “some landowners are very creative when it comes to quarry rehabilitation. Example: In Scugog, one of our communities, new owners of former quarries are claiming depleted sites are aerodromes, thereby using federal aviation legislation to bypass municipal oversight. When concerns are raised over the nature of the fill being dumped in the abandoned pit, municipal staff is told that local bylaws don’t apply since federal aviation regulations superseded them.”


Or sometimes pits never seem to get rehabilitated.  Since there is no forced closing of a pit, a few truck loads of aggregate can be withdrawn on an annual basis so that the expense of rehabilitation does not have to be undertaken. 


Further, Mr. Miller notes: 


“There were changes in the fees some years ago, in 1997, to provide more fees, more money, for a number of things, including rehabilitation, but it remains a challenge to rehabilitate these aggregate sites. It remains a challenge to get the inspectors out there to site them or to give them rehabilitation orders, because there aren’t enough.


One special account of rehabilitation: When the fees were set aside back in 1997, they took a half cent per tonne and they gave it to an organization referred to as TOARC. Their job is to take that half cent per tonne and rehabilitate historic sites that were not rehabilitated back in the day. Now, these are sites which are often orphaned, if you like. They’re on people’s land, but the people who own it didn’t cause the problem. They were never closed, back in the day when we didn’t require them to be properly rehabilitated.


This is a good program. I cast no aspersions on it, other than: A half cent is not doing the trick. A half cent gets you about 45 sites a year. There are thousands of these sites. Increasing that to two cents would give you four times as many sites or more. It’s not a lot of money relative to the price of aggregate, but it’s certainly an area that could do with a lot of improvement. We could get a lot more of these scars on the landscape cleaned up.”


Finally, according to the Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA) “Depending upon whether you accept that there are only 2,700 sites that require rehabilitation, which is the position of the Ministry of Natural Resources, or 6,900 sites, which is the position of the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario, based on MNR’s own numbers, as the number of sites needing rehabilitation, the time it will take to achieve their rehabilitation ranges from about 90 years to 335 years, based on the current annual rate of rehabilitation.”


I object to this application because the necessary support and resources are not in place to remediate the site either at the end of the lifespan of the pit or if the pit operator should default.


Rehabilitation Plan for the Proposed Mega-Quarry


The proposal for the mega-quarry in Melancthon is “progressive rehabilitation”.  In other words, to keep the extraction area dry and then, within 100 metres of the extraction face, re-create the soil base with the ultimate goal of redeveloping farmland (many decades hence).  The proponent verbally promises that a maximum of 300 acres would be extracted at any one time.  After full extraction, the below-the-water-table farmland would require that the four pits be water-managed and pumped in perpetuity.  The company cites Holland Marsh* as an example of a foodland site that undergoes such water management.  The company suggests that the municipality or a third-party would be responsible for operating the water management utility.


[1] Committee Transcripts: Standing Committee on General Government - May 07, 2012 - Aggregate Resources Act review (link)


[2] Committee Transcripts: Standing Committee on General Government - May 16, 2012 - Aggregate Resources Act review (link)