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From the Editor: November -December 2013

A Practical Approach?

December 2, 2013  By  Andrew Macklin

ARA report creates framework for new industry standards.

ARA report creates framework for new industry standards.

At the end of October, the Standing Committee on General Government in Ontario released its report on the review of the Aggregate Resources Act.

The Act, originally passed in 1990, was put in place as a means of controlling and regulating the extraction of aggregates on both Crown and private lands. However, despite changes made to the legislation in 1997, it did not account for the impact of a dramatic increase in demand or address how to balance demand for aggregates with the demand for other natural resources As a result of the issues put forward by community stakeholders, industry members and government officials, a full review of the Aggregates Resources Act became necessary.


Addressing the demands of a variety of government, industry and community stakeholders, all of whom were given the opportunity to participate in the process, was a major stumbling block faced by the committee. Agricultural groups complained about land use rights, concerned citizens told sad tales of perceived problems and the industry pushed to educate the committee on the needs of aggregate producers in Ontario.

More than a year-and-a-half after it was announced the Act would be reviewed, the tri-party committee released a 57-page report detailing 38 recommendations for changing it. The Ontario Stone, Sand and Gravel Association, which was heavily involved in the deliberations on the Act, has welcomed the report but has not made specific statements about the individual recommendations.

Should the recommendations of the report be signed into law by the Ontario government, all stakeholders will have to adapt to a new way of doing business with aggregate resources in Ontario, which includes many considerations:

an increase in public awareness of the value of aggregates operations, modern practices of aggregate extraction and advances in restoration and rehabilitation of inactive sites

  • increases in fees for aggregate extraction
  • improved public participation in the licensing application process
  • the development of public policy surrounding the increased use of recycled aggregates
  • publicized use of recycled aggregates in all significant infrastructure projects in Ontario
  • Ministry of Transportation leadership in the use of recycled aggregates
  • the need to dedicate additional funds to the rehabilitation of inactive pits and quarries
  • comprehensive studies on the possible increased use of rail and marine transport for the movement of aggregate

The implementation of the 38 recommendations would fall upon the industry stakeholders, with the Ministry of Natural Resources taking on the biggest share of the responsibility. They will be tasked with enforcing due diligence on all recommendations, including the ones for which they are primarily responsible.

While the recommendations do look reasonable, if all parties complete the work they have been asked to do, there is still one significant issue not addressed in the report: cost. The financial implication, from collected fees to additional manpower, has not been factored in.

In a government climate where new expenses are met with great hesitation, the costing of the new Aggregate Resources Act revisions may be the one stumbling block that the report cannot overcome. While the recommendations may read sensibly on paper, their implementation may be too much for the Ontario government to bear.

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