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A real ‘Aggregates 101’ course

July 14, 2017  By Wayne Caston

July 14, 2017 – A credit course – PLAN 474 / 674 – Aggregate Resources Planning, Development and Management – first introduced in 2015 at the University of Waterloo, is being offered again in  the Fall term of 2017 as an elective in the School of Planning. The course exposes participants to a variety of topics associated with aggregate resources, important but contentious issues in planning and resource management in Ontario and elsewhere. It is believed that PLAN 474 / 674 is still the first of its kind in Ontario, and possibly in Canada. Financial support for the course was provided by The Ontario Aggregate Resources Corporation (TOARC), and is gratefully acknowledged. 

Products produced by pits and quarries are critical to infrastructure and urban development, but are subject to a significant number of land use, environmental, transportation and related issues, and probable conflicts. The course provides participants with exposure to many topics related to aggregate resources including: geology, economics, technical requirements for licensing, Site Plans, management of aggregate resources, pit and quarry rehabilitation and post-rehabilitation after-uses.  

Initially, course participants are introduced to a series of core topics related to aggregate resources – geology, economics, pit/quarry licensing requirements under Ontario’s Aggregate Resources Act (including required background studies, Site Plans and Planning Act requirements), interdisciplinary and policy issues, rehabilitation and after-use strategies, and Provincial Plans related to aggregate resources. Additional topics include conflicts and conflict resolution, critical/technical or peer review of aggregate resources development proposals, cumulative effects of multiple extractive operations, water resources issues related to pits and quarries, significant Ontario Municipal Board and Environmental Review Tribunal decisions regarding aggregate resources, and future issues in aggregate resources planning, development and management.

Students were also exposed to a range of information sources, techniques and practices used in the evaluation of resources, development proposals and current management practices.  Emphasis is placed on practical applications and ‘real world’ issues. Among the topics discussed has been the “A Blueprint for Change   A proposal to modernize and strengthen the Aggregate Resources Act policy framework” document, released in October 2015. For 2017, Ontario’s new Aggregate Resources and Mining Modernization Act (ARMMA) and the recently revised Provincial Plans (Places to Grow, Niagara Escarpment, etc.) are also discussed.


Assignments for the course involve a series of required readings, group Field Reports, a case study and an individual research project. There are three part-day and one full-day field investigations over the term. A total of ten sites are toured – active pit and quarry operations, rehabilitated lands with successful after-uses, and several pre-extractive properties for which Licence applications or amendments are pending. The cooperation of aggregate producers involved in the ongoing field investigations is greatly appreciated. 

PLAN 474/674 is currently aimed at senior undergraduate and graduate students with interests in environmental and rural/regional planning, and in resources management. In 2017, to assist in-career professionals in participating, the course lectures are scheduled in a condensed weekly two-hour block on Friday mornings. The four field investigations will take place on Friday afternoons over the term, with the full-day field trip in lieu of a lecture. For current professionals, the course would also be appropriate, after 2017, as an elective on the on-line and part-time Graduate Diploma in Planning or the Master of Planning programs at the University of Waterloo. In 2017, the course will be offered on-campus only, but is available to practitioners under a post-graduate non-degree admission policy. The course may be of specific interest to planning and resource management professionals working in regional planning, consulting, and in the aggregates industry itself. 

Further information is available from Wayne Caston, PLAN 474/674 principal lecturer and course coordinator at, or from the School of Planning  (University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario  N2L 3G1).

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