February 2020
Proposals to Amend Standards and Regulation under the Aggregate Resources Act

2020-02-19 11:47:43 AM

As a result of recent changes in Bill 132, Better for People, Smarter for Business Act, 2019, the Ontario government is proposing regulatory changes under the Aggregate Resources Act and its Provincial Standards.

The government says these changes are proposed to modernize the way aggregate resources are managed and promote economic growth within the aggregate industry while protecting the environment.

The proposals are open for feedback until March 30th. Comments can be submitted through the Environmental Registry Posting or sending comments via email to aggregates@ontario.ca.

Below is a summary of the proposed changes that may be of relevance to Ontario’s local governments:

Section 1 – Proposed Changes for Applications to Establish a New State

1.1.1. Water Report

It is proposed to clarify how the water table is determined, who is qualified to prepare a water report, and enhance the information required as part of the report

Proposed changes to clarify current requirements for the assessment of impacts to water are as follows:

  • A new requirement would be added to summarize how local source water protection plans and policies are addressed. Applicants would be required to identify:

    • If the proposed operation is within a Wellhead Protection Area A or B;

    • If activities proposed at the site have the potential to cause a significant threat to local source water – this would reference plans or policies under the Clean Water Act;

    • If the proposed extraction has the potential for changes to the vulnerability within a Wellhead Protection Area; and

    • the potential for impacts to the sustainability of a municipal water taking if the proposed site is in a Wellhead Protection Area for Quantity (WHPA-Q).

1.3.2 Notification and Consultation Process

It is proposed to change the notification and consultation process for the public and provide more options to applicants.

Proposed changes include:

  • Requiring Class A license applicants (i.e. authorizations to remove more than 20,000 tonnes per year on private land) to notify residents located within 150 metres of a proposed pit or within 500 metres of a proposed quarry. Such applicants would continue to notify landowners within 120 metres of the proposed pit or quarry.

  • More options relating to the method of notification by the license applicants would be now allowed.  

  • Applicants are to obtain landowner contact information from municipalities for the required notification process

1.3.4 Circulating New Applications to Agencies

It is proposed to update the list of agencies (e.g. municipalities) to reflect current government organization and responsibilities so that the applicant can circulate the application as required by the Provincial Standards.

The approach would not require agencies to review aspects of applications that are beyond their mandate. For example: applicants would be required to circulate the application to Conservation Authorities (CA), if one exists, to determine whether the proposed site is within their area of regulation. If it is, the CA would review whether the application has the potential to impact the control of flooding, erosion, or other natural hazards.

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry will explore with its municipal partners and other ministries to see “how applications can be reviewed to reduce duplication during the review and improve efficiency”.

Section 2 – Prescribed Rules for Minor Excavations

2.2 Excavation within a Highway Right of Way for Road Construction

It is proposed that it be made clear in regulation that municipalities or the Crown would not require a license or permit to excavate aggregate if the following conditions are met:

  • The aggregate is being excavated as part of a public road construction project; and

  • The excavation is occurring within the established right of way of a highway owned by a municipality or the Crown. 

Section 3 – Proposed Changes to How New and Existing Sites are Managed and Operated

3.2.1 Compliance Assessment Reports

The Ministry is proposing changes to the compliance assessment reporting form, which are submitted to the Ministry and local municipality(ies). Changes include:

  • Combining the form for reporting on both licenses and permits;

  • Developing a “smart form” that would pre-populate sections of the form based on previously submitted information; 

  • Streamlining the required assessment info for sites that have been inactive for 3+ years;

  • Enhancing the rehabilitation information required; and 

  • Making changed needed to reflect other proposals in the document.

The Ministry is also proposing to allow the assessment to be completed earlier in the year from April 1st to September 15th. The report submission deadline would remain as September 30th.

Currently, the assessment must take place from May 1st and September 15th.

3.2.2 Rehabilitation Reporting

It is proposed to require pit or quarry operators to report additional information on progressive and final rehabilitation activities. Additional information can include requiring operators to state which phase of their planned evacuation they are in and the rehabilitation activities they have undertaken that year (i.e. seeding, planting of trees, etc.).

The Ministry is working on additional guidance for operators and municipalities, such as best management practices for rehabilitation.

3.3.1 Site Plan Amendment Process

It is proposed to clarify in regulation that the following information be submitted to the Ministry if an existing license or aggregate permit holder would like to request an amendment to their site plan:

  • Name, address, geographic location, and license/permit number

  • A description of the proposed amendment(s)

  • A description of how the proposed amendment(s) will change the operation; and

  • The reason for the request(s)

Depending on the request, additional information, such as new or updated studies to assess potential implications, may be required. The circulation of the proposed amendment(s) to municipalities, other agencies, and interested parties for comment may also be required.

The Ministry will continue to forward copies of the revised site plans to local municipalities where the pit or quarry is located.  

3.3.2 Amendment to Expand into a Road Allowance

It is proposed to require the following information and notification as part of an amendment application to expand into a road allowance that is directly adjacent to an existing pit or quarry on private land.

Documentation will have to demonstrate that the municipality with jurisdiction over the road allowance supports the application or that the landowner does.

Applications will have to be circulated to landowners within 120 metres of the boundary of the road allowance area proposed and be circulated to any agencies identified by the Ministry. A posted notice and a sign would also be required to make the public aware of the proposed expansion.

Landowners, the public, and agencies would be given 60 days to comment on the proposed expansion and applicants would work to resolve comments before submitting a final application to the Ministry for approval.

3.3.3 Amendment to Expand an Existing Site Below the Water Table

It is proposed to set application requirements in regulation for existing pits and quarries on private land that apply to the Ministry for a site plan amendment to extract below the water table.

Among the requirements, applicants will circulate the amendment application to the following parties:

  • Landowners within 120 metres of the boundary of the existing pit or quarry;

  • The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry;

  • The Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks;

  • The local municipality where the site is located;

  • The county or region where the site is located, if applicable;

  • The CA in whose jurisdiction where the site is located; and

  • The Niagara Escarpment Commission, if applicable.

Information would also be required to describe how the proposed amendment align with any relevant Provincial Policy Statement or Provincial Plan policies.

Applicants would need to submit documentation of the notification and consultation process to the Ministry within 2 years of notifying landowners and agencies of the proposal. The Ministry may refer objections to the Local Planning and Appeal Tribunal for a hearing and decision on the application.

3.3.4 Self-Filing of Site Plan Amendments

It is proposed to allow existing operators to make changes to site plan amendments for self-filling without Ministry review or approval. Self-filing was selected as they are routine changes that reflect normal operations of pits and quarries.

A holder of a license or aggregate permits will need to confirm a series of conditions that the amendment will not result in. License or permit holders will only be eligible for this proposal if they are up to date on payments of annual fees and royalties and all required annual compliance and production reports are filed.

Municipal approval will also have to be obtained (where required) on building and structures on private land.
The revised site plan will be submitted to the Ministry and a copy to the local municipality and the county/region in which the site is located will have to be provided. 

For more information, please see below:

Proposals to amend O. Reg. 244/97 and the Aggregate Resources of Ontario Provincial Standards under the Aggregate Resources Act

ERO: Proposal to Amend O. Reg. 244/97 and Provincial Standards

AMCTO: Government Passes Bill 132


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