Changes to the way aggregates are managed in Ontario

Changes have been made to the Aggregate Resources Act, Ontario Regulation 244/97 to manage the beneficial reuse of excess soil to facilitate rehabilitation at pits and quarries.

These changes will take effect beginning July 1, 2022.

In addition to the regulatory changes, we finalized the following policies, which also take effect July 1, 2022:

  • applicants requesting to import excess soil must demonstrate that the quantity of soil is needed for a beneficial reuse that is consistent with the rehabilitation plan for the pit or quarry
  • when the approved rehabilitation plan does not identify an end use, the excess soil quality standard is restricted to agricultural or other use in accordance with the Excess Soil Standards (PDF)
  • licensees and permittees will follow best management practices (PDF) when storing and placing excess soil in pits and quarries
  • applicants requesting to fill-to-grade must consider potential impacts to the community from the fill operation (such as truck traffic, noise, dust and prolonged life of the site)
  • liquid soil (as defined by Ontario Regulation 406/19) will not be authorized for importation at a pit or quarry under the Aggregate Resources Act

About aggregates

It takes approximately:

  • 1,760
    truckloads to build
    1 kilometer of 4-lane highway
  • 3,760
    truckloads to build
    a 32,000 meters square hospital
  • 4,560
    truckloads to build
    1 kilometer of subway line

Aggregates are usually sand, gravel, clay, earth and bedrock. They are used to make roads, subway tunnels, homes and other structures.

  • Loose material, such as sand and gravel, is removed from a pit
  • Solid bedrock, such as limestone and granite, is removed from a quarry

Read our aggregate resource studies to learn more about Ontario’s aggregate consumption, demand, future availability and more.

Find a pit and quarry

Using our online tool, you can locate pits and quarries by:

  • licence or permit holder
  • size
  • operation type
  • maximum annual tonnage limit

You can also export information into a table or report.

Find pits and quarries – Pits and Quarries Online

How the province regulates pits and quarries

The ministry:

  • oversees the rules governing aggregate management
  • issues licences, permits and changes to existing approvals
  • inspects aggregate operations and responds to complaints
  • enforces compliance
  • ensures rehabilitation is carried out on sites

Most of Ontario’s pits and quarries are regulated under the Aggregate Resources Act.

Map of designated private land areas that are subject to the Aggregate Resources Act

map illustrates Ontario’s Crown land is captured under the ARA. Private land in southern Ontario is designated under the ARA. There are some pockets of private land in northern Ontario that are not designated under the ARA.

Some areas of private land are not covered by the Act. In these areas, the local municipality may regulate pit and quarry operations.

Some areas of private land in southern Ontario are adjacent to Crown land. The map does not provide this level of detail.

The following documents contain more information on how aggregates are managed in Ontario:

What you need to operate a pit or quarry

On private land

You will need a:

  • Class A licence if more than 20,000 tonnes of aggregate is removed annually
  • Class B licence if 20,000 tonnes or less of aggregate is removed annually

On Crown land

You will need an aggregate permit to:

  • operate a pit or quarry on Crown land
  • extract Crown-owned aggregate or topsoil

To extract aggregate materials from the bed of a lake or river, contact us at ARAapprovals@ontario.ca for more information about:

  • custom plans
  • the application process

Additional approvals

You may also need approval under other pieces of legislation. Some examples are:

How to apply for a licence or permit

The Aggregate Resources Act regulation requires that site plans and technical reports which accompany your application be prepared and submitted according to the standards.

Applicants are required to notify and consult as described in sections 0.3, 0.4, 0.5 and 0.11 of Ontario Regulation 244/97.

Application requirements for licences, aggregate permits and wayside permits are in:

Information about what to include on a site plan, what technical reports and information are required and where to circulate the application package are in:

Where to send your application

Email your complete application to ARAapprovals@ontario.ca.

If you cannot submit your application by email, mail it to:

Integrated Aggregate Operations Section
Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry
300 Water Street
Peterborough, Ontario
K9J 3C7

In Spring 2021, we will provide updated guidance about how to submit applications using the new Natural Resources Information Portal.

For help with the application process, email us at ARAapprovals@ontario.ca.

Applications in progress before April 1, 2021

Applications submitted after March 31, 2021 must follow all the new requirements. This includes resubmitting an application previously deemed incomplete by the ministry.

The Aggregate Resources Act requires that the site plans and technical reports which accompany applications be prepared and submitted according to the regulations. Applicants are also required to notify and consult in accordance with the regulations.

If you submitted an application before April 1, 2021 that met the site plan and report standards of Aggregate Resources of Ontario Provincial Standards, Version 1.0 you are not required to change these documents to meet the new requirements.

If you started the notification and consultation in section 4.0 of the Aggregate Resources of Ontario Provincial Standards, Version 1.0 by completing all the notification requirements in section 4.1 before April 1, 2021, you will need to complete the notification and consultation under Version 1.0 of the standards. The new notification and consultation requirements will not apply to these applications.

If you begin notification after March 31, 2021, you will be required to follow the notification and consultation requirements in Ontario Regulation 244/97.

When a licence is not required

You may not need a licence under the Aggregate Resources Act to extract and use aggregates from your own private land if:

  • you are an individual or farm business
  • you follow certain rules set out in section 7.8 of Ontario Regulation 244/97
  • you register with the ministry

Find out if you can operate an aggregate pit without a licence and how to register your pit.

To register with the ministry:

  1. Complete The Registration of Activities form under the Aggregate Resources Act
  2. Email the completed form to ARAself-filing@ontario.ca.

If you can’t email the form to us, print the form and mail it to the local district office where your property is located.

In Spring 2021, we will provide a new guidance manual about how to complete the registration form and how to submit applications using the new Natural Resources Information Portal

How to comment on a proposed aggregate project

Applicants are required to notify adjacent landowners, municipalities and other agencies and ministries of their proposed aggregate development project. Some types of applications require signage on the proposed site and notices in the local newspaper.

The notices identify the applicant’s contact information and how you can obtain more information or comment on the proposal. Once you submit a comment, the applicant is obligated to work toward addressing your concern.

On private land, applications for new pits and quarries and significant changes to site plans are also posted on Ontario’s Environmental Registry.

Consultation and decision process for an application for an aggregate permit or licence

This is a summary of the consultation and decision process only. For the legal requirements, refer to Ontario Regulation 244/97 and the Aggregate Resources Act.

Pre-submission

  • Applicant completes technical reports, summary statement and drafts a site plan.

Step 1: submission to the ministry

  • Applicant submits the application package to ministry.
  • Ministry determines if application is complete within 25 days of receiving the application.
  • If the application is incomplete, the application is returned to the applicant to make necessary changes.
  • If the application is complete, the ministry issues a deemed complete notice to the applicant and the applicant moves on to notification and consultation.

Step 2: notification and consultation

  • Public Notice: applicant completes the following concurrently:
    • a written Public Notice of Application is distributed to landowners within 120 metres of the proposed site (obtain contact info from MPAC)
    • signage is posted on the property (licences only)
    • Public Notice of Application is posted in a newspaper, or on-line news source, where newspaper is unavailable
  • Agency circulation: the complete application package is circulated by the applicant in accordance with Aggregate Resources of Ontario Circulation Standards.
  • Consultation period: the consultation period begins when the public notice and agency circulation are complete, and the period lasts for 60 days.
    • Information Session – The applicant must host the session at least 10 days after the notice is posted in the newspaper, but at least 10 days before the end of the consultation period.
    • The applicant makes the application, site plan and all technical reports available for the public to review during the consultation period.
    • Any person or agency who wishes to comment on the application must submit their comment(s) in writing to the applicant and ministry during the 60-day consultation period.

Step 3: addressing comments

  • The applicant must attempt to address all comments.

No comments, all comments addressed and withdrawn, or an aggregate permit application with or without objections

  • If there are no comments or if all comments are addressed and withdrawn, or the application is an aggregate permit with or without objections, and the applicant has amended the application (as necessary) to reflect any changes resulting from the consultation, the applicant submits to the ministry:
    • proof of newspaper or on-line news source posting
    • list of landowners notified, and agencies circulated
    • a summary of comments received
    • written confirmation that any comments have been addressed/withdrawn
    • a summary of how comments have been addressed;
    • outstanding comments (permits only)
    • amended site plan, application, and reports, as applicable

Outstanding comments (licences only)

  • If there are outstanding comments from the consultation period that have not been withdrawn, the applicant completes Part 1 of the Objection Form for each commenter that has not withdrawn their comments and the applicant sends the form to those commenters and ministry either by:
    • registered mail
    • courier
    • personal delivery,
    • e-mail (if the recipient consents)
  • If the recipient of the objection form wishes to formally object, they complete part 2 of the objection form and send the form back to the applicant and ministry within 20 days of receiving the form either by:
    • registered mail
    • courier
    • personal delivery
    • e-mail (if the recipient consents)
  • If the completed form is not sent back to the applicant and ministry within 20 days, a formal objection is not considered
  • If an objection is received (licence), the applicant submits:
    • summary of objections
    • proof of newspaper or on-line news source posting
    • list of landowners notified, and agencies circulated
    • a summary of comments received
    • written confirmation of any comments that have been addressed/withdrawn
    • a summary how comments have been addressed
    • amended site plan, application, reports as applicable

Note: the application timeline for an aggregate permit is 6 months and the application timeline for an aggregate licence is 2 years.

Step 4: decision process

  • Ministry reviews entire application and information.

No objections or ministry determines that objections were adequately addressed

  • Objections for aggregate permits are considered by the Ministry.
  • If there are no objections or objections have been addressed, the ministry makes a recommendation to the minister within 40-days of receipt of the application and information.
  • The minister may either:
    • Issue approval subject to prescribed conditions and any additional conditions resulting from consultation.
    • Refuse to issue approval. If the minister refuses to issue approval, the applicant may request a hearing at the Ontario Land Tribunal (OLT), if applying for an aggregate licence, or if applying for an aggregate permit where the aggregate is not property of the Crown, the Mining and Lands Tribunal.

If there are objections (licences)

  • If there are objections, the ministry reviews the application and objections within 40 days and determines if the objections are adequately addressed, or if the application is to be referred to the Ontario Land Tribunal (OLT) for a decision.

Ontario Land Tribunal hearing

The ministry refers the application to the OLT. The OLT may either:

  • direct the minister to issue a licence which may include any additional conditions resulting from the hearing
  • direct the minister to refuse to issue the licence

Process map: Consultation and decision process for an application for an aggregate permit or licence

How to apply to amend a site plan, licence or permit

You can apply to make changes or updates at any time to your:

  • site plan
  • licence
  • permit

If your amendment requires notification and consultation, your notices must now be served by either:

  • registered mail
  • courier
  • personal service

To apply for an amendment, complete an Amendment Form and email it to ARAApprovals@ontario.ca.

If you cannot submit the Amendment Form by email, mail it to:

Integrated Aggregate Operations Section
Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry
300 Water Street
Peterborough, Ontario
K9J 3C7

In Spring 2021, we will provide updated guidance about how to make amendments using the new Natural Resources Information Portal.

We will review the proposed description and reasons you provided in your Amendment Form. We will determine if additional information or reports are required to assess the application.

Notification and consultation are required for amendments that would result in significant changes to the operation or rehabilitation of a site. Before April 1, 2021, these were referred to as “major” amendments. We will determine the significance of amendments using the same policies, procedures, and practices we previously used to classify amendments as major or minor.

If we determine that the amendment you are applying for is significant, we will tell you which persons or agencies must be notified and consulted.

Amendments to lower extraction from above to below the water table

These amendments are for approval to extract below the water table in any part of a site not currently approved to do so, even if below water extraction is already approved for another part of the site.

Application requirements can be found in Ontario Regulation 244/97. They include:

Within 25 days of receiving your application, we will let you know whether your application is complete. Once your application is deemed complete, you can begin consulting on your application by following the requirements in:

Expand a licence boundary into an adjacent road allowance

These amendments are for approval to expand a licence boundary to include an adjacent road allowance.

Application requirements can be found in Ontario Regulation 244/97.

They include:

Within 25 days of receiving your application, we will let you know whether your application is complete. Once your application is deemed complete by the ministry you can begin consulting on your application by following the requirements in:

Amendment applications in progress on April 1, 2021, to lower extraction from above to below the water table or to expand a licence boundary into a road allowance

The following applies only to amendment applications in progress on April 1, 2021, to either:

  • lower extraction below the water table
  • expand a licence into an adjacent road allowance

Applications that were complete

If prior to April 1, 2021, your application included all the required information and reports and was acceptable to the ministry:

  • you will not be required to change these documents to meet the new technical report and information requirements
  • you will not be required to resubmit your application using the new Amendment Form

Applications that also completed the notification requirements

If, prior to April 1, 2021, you had also completed the notification requirements for your application:

  • the new notification and consultation requirements that came into effect April 1, 2021, do not apply to your application

Completed notification requirements means that:

  • prior to April 1, you had sent notices to anyone the ministry identified
  • you completed any other requirements to notify others of your application (such as putting up a sign at the site)
  • public meetings, if required, did not have to occur prior to April 1

If you had not completed notification requirements prior to April 1, 2021 the new notification and consultation requirements will apply to your application.

All other amendment applications in progress on April 1, 2021

The following applies to all other types of amendments in progress as of April 1, 2021:

  • Complete applications received prior to April 1, 2021 will not need to be resubmitted using the Amendment Form.
  • You will not be required re-notify any persons or agencies notified prior to April 1. Any persons or agencies notified after April 1 must be served according to the new requirements by regular mail, courier or personal service.

Amendment without approval and self-filing a site plan amendment

Some small and routine site plan amendments may not need to be reviewed or approved by the ministry.

Licence or permit holders can submit amendments according to the conditions and criteria described in section 7.2 of Ontario Regulation 244/97. This is called Self-Filing.

If you want to self-file a site plan amendment, you need to:

  1. Complete and submit an Amendment Without Approval Form.
  2. Email the form and the updated site plan or site plan pages to ARAself-filing@ontario.ca

If you cannot submit the form by email, mail it to:

Integrated Aggregate Operations Section
Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry
300 Water Street
Peterborough, Ontario
K9J 3C7

Operating requirements that apply to all licences and permits

Unless your site plan says otherwise, you are required to follow a set of minimum operating rules for your pit or quarry.

You can find the operating requirements for pits and quarries in Section 0.13 under the heading ‘Control and Operation of Pit or Quarry’ of Ontario Regulation 244/97 .

As of January 1, 2022, new operating requirements in the regulation will come into force related to:

  • scrap storage
  • implementing measures to prevent fly rock from leaving the site during blasting if a sensitive receptor is located within 500 metres of the boundary of the site
  • recycling storage, and linkages to rehabilitation
  • for Crown land sites, prohibiting unauthorized entry in accordance with the Trespass to Property Act

Annual compliance reporting

There is a new Compliance Assessment Report form you must use for your annual compliance reporting.

If you have an aggregate licence or permit, you need to complete an annual compliance assessment report. This report is necessary to assess your compliance with the rules.

This assessment and report can be completed anytime between April 1 to September 15.

You must submit the assessment and report to us on or before September 30.

If your pit or quarry operates within a municipality, you must also submit a copy of the report to the local municipality where the site is located.

You can submit your completed Compliance Assessment Report either:

For more information and guidance on completing your assessment, you can read How to Complete a Compliance Assessment Report (PDF).

How to rehabilitate pits and quarries

The Aggregate Resources Act requires you to rehabilitate your pit or quarry during its operational lifetime.

You need to rehabilitate the parts of your site which you’ve completed work on, while you continue extracting aggregates in other areas. These areas can be rehabilitated into wetlands and habitat for wildlife, farmland, parks, fruit orchards, vineyards, subdivisions, golf courses and recreational fishing areas.

Most changes to site plans, which includes plans for rehabilitation, requires approval from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry.

Abandoned aggregate sites

Pits and quarries on private land that stopped operating before they were required to obtain a licence are considered abandoned or legacy sites.

Where the landowner has granted permission, these sites can be rehabilitated by the Ontario Aggregate Resources Corporation under the Management of Abandoned Aggregate Properties Program.

Management of abandoned aggregate properties

Annual aggregate fees and royalties

The Aggregate Resources Act and its regulations require aggregate operators to pay fees related to the extraction of aggregate materials. Aggregate licence and permit holders must pay an annual fee. Some annual fees are shared.

Royalties are paid to the Crown for use of Crown-owned aggregate.

Annual adjustment

Fees and royalties will be adjusted annually to account for inflation, in accordance with Regulation 244/97. This adjustment will follow the Ontario Consumer Price Index. The ministry will post the adjusted fees and royalties before January 1st of every year.

Fee and royalty rates

Fees and royalties will be charged as follows:

Charge2021 Production2022 Production
Annual Fee – Class A Licences and Aggregate Permits authorized to remove more than 20,000 tonnes annually20.8 cents/tonne or $724, whichever is greater21.3 cents/tonne or $741, whichever is greater
Annual Fee – Class B Licences or Aggregate Permits authorized to remove 20,000 tonnes or less annually20.8 cents/tonne or $361, whichever is greater21.3 cents/tonne or $370, whichever is greater
Wayside Permit Issuance Fee20.8 cents/tonne or $724, whichever is greater21.3 cents/tonne or $741, whichever is greater
Minimum Royalty (except as noted below)52.6 cents/tonne53.9 cents/tonne

Where do fees go?

Fees collected from licences, wayside permits and aggregate permits will be distributed approximately as follows:

  • 3% to the Aggregate Resources Trust for rehabilitation and research
  • 61% to the local municipality in which the site is located
  • 15% to the upper-tier municipality in which the site is located
  • 21% to the Crown (minimum)