Aggregates are usually sand, gravel, clay, earth and bedrock.

A pit contains loose material such as sand and gravel.  A quarry contains solid bedrock such as limestone and granite.

This page will help you find out:

  • if you are eligible to operate a pit to get aggregate materials on private land without an aggregate licence
  • how to register your pit

You can find the legal requirements in section 7.8 of Regulation 244/97 under the Aggregate Resources Act (ARA).

This guidance only addresses requirements under the ARA. Be sure to review any additional rules and requirements from other levels of government or agencies that may apply to your property. It is your responsibility to make sure you follow all applicable laws or rules, such as municipal approval.


You may be eligible to operate a pit to remove unconsolidated (loose) aggregate materials such as sand and gravel, without a licence, if you:

  • are an individual and the registered owner of the land where the pit will be located, and only produce aggregate for your own personal use, or 
  • operate a registered farming business and:
    • your business owns the land or has written permission from the registered landowner(s)
    • the property where the pit is located is being used for farm purposes while you are operating the pit

A registered farming business is:


To qualify for an aggregate licence exception, you will need to follow specific rules. If you cannot follow these rules, you do not qualify for this exception and an aggregate licence is required to operate a pit.

For more information, visit the Aggregate resources website.

Pit location

The pit may not be located within:

  • an area where development is prohibited or regulated under the Conservation Authorities Act unless written permission is obtained from the local conservation authority
  • 15 metres (about 50 feet) from any plugged petroleum well (find the location of petroleum wells in your area)
  • 30 metres (about 100 feet) from:
    • an unplugged petroleum well
    • a property boundary
    • a septic system
    • a water well
    • any body of water
  • 90 metres (about 295 feet) of any:
    • sensitive receptor (meaning a school, childcare centre or anywhere someone sleeps such as a hospital, residence or campground)
    • property boundary next to land zoned for residential use
  • the same area (footprint) where a pit was previously registered (you can only have one pit registered per property at one time)
  • a Wellhead Protection Area (WHPA) (PDF) A or B

Pit restrictions

To operate an aggregate pit without a licence, you must not:

  • sell or trade the aggregate or have it sold or traded on your behalf
  • move the aggregate to another property unless:
    • as an individual, you are moving the aggregate to land you own that is an adjoining property or is only separated by a road (across the road)
    • as a farming business, you are moving the aggregate to another property owned or leased by the same farming business
  • blast, crush, screen or wash the aggregate
  • excavate anything other than loose aggregate materials (such as sand and gravel)
  • have a pit with an excavation wall height taller than 1.5 metres (approximately five feet) above the reach of the extended arm of your excavation equipment
  • have a vertical pit face that is unstable (keep slope at the angle of repose)
  • dig within 1.5 metres (five feet) of the groundwater table
  • allow sediment from the pit operation to enter any body of water
  • exceed, for the life of the pit, the total amount (volume) of extracted aggregate including stockpiles of:
    • 300 cubic metres (about 530 metric tonnes, about 22 average tri-axle dump trucks) as an individual
    • 3,000 cubic metres (about 5,300 metric tonnes, about 220 average tri-axle dump trucks) as a farming business
  • operate the pit for more than three years after the registration date
  • as an individual landowner, have a pit operated where the surface area excavated is more than 0.5 hectares (about one acre)

Wellhead protection areas

A Wellhead Protection Area (WHPA) (PDF) is the area around a municipal water supply well where land-based activities (like aggregate pits) might contaminate groundwater that could be captured by the well.

WHPA-A is a 100-metre radius circle around the well.

WHPA-B represents the area where groundwater would be captured by the well within two years. The size and shapes of WHPA-Bs across the province vary based on the:

  • rate of pumping in the municipal well
  • nature of the unconsolidated material (such as sand and gravel) and underlying bedrock

You can find out if there are municipal wellhead protection areas around your property by visiting the Source Protection Information Atlas.

Well records and groundwater table

If you have a well, your well record will help you find out:

  • the depth the water table was when the well was dug/drilled
  • how deep you can dig

Find your well record online.

You can also use the well records map to locate a well and view the recorded depth at date of record.

If you accidently dig into the groundwater table, meaning you see water even during dry weather conditions, you must immediately stop digging and refill the hole with the previously extracted aggregate materials to at least 1.5 metres (about five feet) above the wet area.

Make sure to always leave a buffer of at least 1.5 metres above the groundwater table.

Stockpiling aggregate from your pit

You can stockpile the aggregate from your pit on the same property where the pit is located.

The amount of aggregate in your stockpile is included in the total allowable limit of aggregate you can excavate, which is:

  • 300 cubic metres for an individual
  • 3,000 cubic metres for a farming business

Make sure the location of your stockpile does not allow sediment or runoff to enter any body of water.

Before you register your pit

Municipal approvals

Before you submit an application to register your pit, you should contact your local municipality to find out if a property is subject to other considerations such as:

  • zoning by-laws
  • site alteration by-laws

The municipal planning department can tell you about any additional requirements.

Conservation authority regulations

You should also contact your local conservation authority to find out if an aggregate pit is prohibited or regulated under the Conservation Authorities Act.

Use the conservation authorities map to find your conservation authority. 

How to register your pit

Before you begin any operations, you must register your proposed pit using the Registration of Activities Under the Aggregate Resources Act Form.

Once completed, submit the form either by:

  • email to ARAself-filing@ontario.ca  
  • or mail to:

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

You must also submit a copy of the completed registration form to:

  • the clerk of the local municipality where the pit is located
  • the clerk of the upper tier (regional) municipality, if applicable

After your pit is registered

You can commence with your pit after you have:

  • registered and received a confirmation email from the ministry
  • notified your municipality

You are required to keep a copy of your documents for seven years after you have rehabilitated your pit so you can provide them to us on request.

How long you can operate your pit

You can only operate your pit for up to three years from the time you registered it.

After three years, you have one year to rehabilitate the site.

Pit rehabilitation

Within four years of registering your pit, you must rehabilitate the site to either:

  • restore the land to the same use as it was before the area was excavated for the pit
  • grade the area so the excavation faces (slopes) of the pit are three horizontal metres (about 10 feet) for every vertical metre (about three feet) or flatter, and plant vegetation

We recommend you take a picture of the site before excavation to help you remember the types of vegetation to re-establish when you rehabilitate the site.