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Ontario begins aggregate reform

by Mark Sabourin
EcoLog, 9/27/2019 12:31:00 PM

Ontario has begun the process of streamlining regulations and policies that govern the province’s aggregate industry. Ontario believes the current process is too burdensome for producers and that streamlining can be accomplished without risking conservation and environmental protection objectives.

Ontario, particularly southern Ontario, has a strong appetite for aggregate. According to the Ontario Stone, Sand & Gravel Association (OSSGA), approximately 164 million tonnes of aggregate are used in Ontario each year, contributing $1.6 billion to the province’s GDP.

The OSSGA has called on the province to create a single point of responsibility for aggregate permits, eliminate multi-agency reviews, relax restrictions found in various growth plans, and tighten criteria for the designation of species at risk, among many other changes.

The current reform proposals appear to nibble at the margins of the issues raised by the aggregate industry at the Aggregate Summit held on March 29, 2019 in Caledon and described by the OSSGA in greater detail in “Untangling Red Tape: Addressing Duplication and Redundancy in the Various Processes Related to the Aggregate Industry”, its wish list submitted to the government on January 21, 2019.

The province’s reform proposals are presented only in summary form on the Environmental Registry of Ontario. They include:

  • preventing municipalities from using zoning by-laws to limit the depth of extraction of pits and quarries and from applying zoning to aggregate extraction on Crown land
  • no longer allowing a Local Planning Appeal Tribunal and the Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry to require agreements between municipalities and aggregate producers regarding aggregate haulage
  • creating a more robust application process for existing operators that want to expand to extract aggregate within the water table; this would allow municipalities and others to object to an application and provide the opportunity to have their concerns heard by the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal
  • improving access to aggregates in adjacent municipal road allowances through a simpler application process.

The OSSGA did not respond to EcoLog News’ request for comment on the reform proposals. In a September 20, 2019 tweet, it congratulated the government for making good on its promise to reduce barriers and red tape.

Ontario says other changes are also being considered. They include allowing operators to self-file changes to existing site plans for some routine activities, allowing some low-risk activities to occur without a licence if conditions specified in regulation are followed, streamlining compliance reporting, and requiring more context and detail on where, when and how rehabilitation is or has been undertaken.

Comments on the reform proposals are being accepted through November 4, 2019.

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