This section provides additional direction for Crown land use planning pertaining to key resource activities that occur on Crown land including:

  • mineral exploration and development
  • commercial forestry
  • aggregate extraction

11.1 Mineral exploration and development

There are shared interests between mineral exploration and development and Crown land use planning including the consideration of mineral potential and existing mineral tenure, types of mineral exploration and development policies to address in land use plans and the consideration of road access.

Crown land use planning that requires interim or permanent withdrawal of mineral rights, or which might lead to constraints on mineral exploration or development including constraints on access, must consider the potential for mineral exploration and development, and any existing mineral tenure.

The potential for mineral exploration and development may need to be identified through the application of the Provincially Significant Mineral Potential (PSMP) methodology or other mineral resource potential estimation tools as developed by ENDM. ENDM must also be involved in the site selection process of proposed protected areas to assess mineral values and interests and to evaluate the potential impact.

Additional consideration must be given in planning processes to areas that are identified through the PSMP methodology as having the highest mineral potential.

ENDM will generally use mineral potential estimation tools combined with expert opinion in the preliminary stages of Crown land use planning. When the result of the estimation tools combined with expert opinion is challenged or when planning processes are considering proposals that would remove areas from the land base available for mineral exploration and development, a full assessment using the PSMP methodology may be required. ENDM will review any third party PSMP assessment for consistency with the prescribed methodology to ensure that all relevant information was considered. ENDM can assist in identifying the potential implications of land use policies being proposed during a planning process.

When Crown land use planning processes are proposing Recommended Provincial Parks or Conservation Reserves, or documenting a proposed transfer of lands, withdrawal orders prohibiting the registration of new mining claims should be put in place.

MNRF and ENDM will develop procedural direction as required for implementation of interim protection. Withdrawals of mining rights will comply with PLA Policy and Procedure PL3.03.03, Withdrawal and Reopening of Surface and/or Mining Rights Section 35, Mining Act, and Mining Act Policy G.A. 701-6 Withdrawal and Opening of Mining Rights in Northern Ontario.

Interim protection policies related to mineral exploration and development included in Crown land use plans must be consistent with the interim protection policies outlined in Section 10.0 and be subject to prior consultation with ENDM.

Mineral exploration and development require access, including motorized access. Crown land use planning processes must consider lands that are open for mining claim registration, including lands with existing interest or tenure under the Mining Act, and evaluate how access to these lands could be affected by any proposed policies. This evaluation would normally occur as part of an evaluation of the potential impacts of proposed designations or policies on the access interests of all sectors.

11.2 Commercial forestry

Management of Ontario’s Crown forests is the responsibility of MNRF under the authority of the Crown Forests Sustainability Act (CFSA).

The CFSA requires the provision of four manuals to guide various aspects of forest management in Ontario, including the Forest Management Planning Manual. This manual prescribes the requirements for Ontario’s forest management planning system including a detailed description of the planning process that produces forest management plans (FMPs) and the consideration of area-specific land use policy in the Crown Land Use Policy Atlas (CLUPA). Area-specific land use policy determines where forestry is permitted and can modify the location or timing of forest management activities within a land use area. FMPs determine the forest management activities, including forest road access, timber harvest, and the forest renewal and maintenance that may occur within a forest management unit. As with mineral exploration and development, forestry- related access is also a key consideration in the land use planning process.

Ontario balances the need to harvest and extract provincial natural resources for the benefit of all Ontarians with the need to respond to changing social and environmental expectations for Crown land. When Crown land use planning processes within the area to which the Guide applies are proposing new parks and protected areas the Ontario Forest Accord must be considered.

The Accord was established to provide the means and principles for working together to plan new protected areas, while at the same time meeting the needs of the forest industry for a sustainable wood supply. The Ontario Forest Accord Advisory Board (OFAAB) was established to oversee the implementation of the Accord and foster a long-term relationship between the government, the then Partnership for Public Lands, and the forest industry.

OFAAB developed the Room to Grow: Final Report of the Ontario Forest Accord Advisory Board on Implementation of the Accord (2002), containing a Room to Grow policy framework that included a set of guiding principles and a process for expanding the network of protected areas within the area to which the Guide applies.

Any land use planning associated with Room to Grow must be consistent with the land use policy direction contained in the Guide, and include opportunities for potentially affected Indigenous communities, MNRF and partner ministries (e.g. Ministry of Energy, Northern Development and Mines), as well as stakeholders, to participate in the selection and identification of candidate protected areas.

11.3 Aggregate extraction and oil, gas and solution-mined salt resources

Aggregate resources are found in fixed locations and, therefore, it is important for these non-renewable resources to be made available as close to markets as realistically possible. This will help minimize the cost of certain development and infrastructure projects, reduce the financial cost of maintaining roads that are used to transport aggregate, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from aggregate truck traffic.

While the management of Ontario’s mineral resources is the responsibility of ENDM under the authority of the Mining Act, the operation of pits and quarries to extract Crown-owned sand, gravel, clay, bedrock and topsoil (some of which are also mineral resources) is managed by MNRF under the authority of the Aggregate Resources Act (ARA).

The extraction of aggregate resources may occur on Crown land where such use of land is permitted by land use plans/policies for Crown lands, subject to any authorizations required under the ARA. Any municipal zoning by-law that prohibits aggregate extraction on Crown land would not be applicable. It is important to note that even where Crown land use policies allow for aggregate extraction, there are special provisions within the ARA that allow the Minister to set aside areas of aggregate resources where applications will only be accepted from specific persons or for purposes, or where no extraction is to occur and therefore no applications will be entertained.

Under the Oil, Gas and Salt Resources Act, MNRF regulates the drilling and operation of wells used for activities such as the exploration and production of oil and gas, salt solution-mining, the underground storage of hydrocarbons, and compressed air energy storage in salt caverns. This includes both privately-owned and Crown-owned resources. Where these activities involve the use of Crown-owned resources, the disposition is granted under Part V of the Mining Act, which is also administered by MNRF.

Activities related to oil and gas production, salt solution-mining, hydrocarbons storage and compressed air energy storage in salt caverns are largely concentrated in southwestern Ontario, but there is some potential for these resources to be found in sedimentary rock within other parts of the province. At the time this guide is being produced, the only activities involving Crown-owned resources are onshore oil and gas production in the southwest and offshore gas production in Lake Erie.