The government is introducing a bill to amend both the Aggregate Resources Act and the Mining Act in tandem. The bill is part of the government’s goal of continuing to build a competitive business environment in Ontario using approaches that balance the province’s social, economic and environmental interests. This posting outlines the proposed changes to the Aggregate Resources Act (Schedule 1 of the proposed bill). The proposed changes to the Mining Act (Schedule 2 of the proposed bill), were originally introduced as Bill 155 and proposals were posted in 2014. The comment period has closed, but for information purposes, see www.ebr.gov.on.ca, ER postings 012-0575 and 012-2993.
If passed, the proposed amendments would be the first step to modernizing and strengthening the way that aggregate resources are managed in Ontario by enabling stronger oversight, enhancing environmental accountability, improving information and participation and increasing fees and royalties.
In 2013, the Standing Committee on General Government released a report outlining recommendations for improving the Aggregate Resources Act and its policy framework. The government responded to these recommendations in a subsequent report and carried out a series of engagement sessions with stakeholders and Indigenous communities in 2014. Feedback received during these sessions was used to develop proposals that would modernize and strengthen the Aggregate Resources Act and its associated policy framework. The province consulted on these proposals in fall 2015, through a document titled, A Blueprint for Change.
Key highlights of the proposed changes to Legislation include:
• Authorizing the Minister to develop regulations to require licensees and permittees to submit information related to their operation, and to conduct and submit reports on inventories, tests, surveys and studies related to the operation;
• Standardizing annual tonnage limits for all existing licences and permits, and including all aggregate and recycled aggregate leaving the site in those limits;
• Standardizing and enhancing the provisions for amending site plans and licence or permit conditions across licences, wayside permits and aggregate permits, and enabling regulations to be made allowing licensees and permittees to self-file minor site plan amendments in circumstances that would be set in regulation;
• Recognizing that the Minister must consider whether adequate consultation with Aboriginal communities has been carried out before exercising powers under the Act with respect to licenses or permits;
• Allowing the Minister to add conditions to existing sites, without tribunal hearings, to implement a source protection plan under the Clean Water Act;
• Enhancing powers related to the transfer and revocation of permits and licences;
• Enhancing authority with respect to the management of the Aggregate Resources Trust;
• Creating the authority to make regulations requiring peer review of technical studies and to require the applicant, licensee or permittee to cover the cost of those reviews;
• Clarifying and enhancing the provisions that allow regulations to be made requiring record keeping and reporting on aggregate operations; and
• Allowing self-compliance reporting to be required more or less frequently than once per year as prescribed by regulation.
• Allowing custom plans to be developed that outline study and consultation requirements in some site specific situations;
• Clarifying that impacts to municipal drinking water sources be considered when making decisions for new licences and wayside permits;
• Allowing the Minister to designate areas of Crown land, Crown aggregate or Crown topsoil where an aggregate permit will not be issued or where it will only be available for a specific purpose or person;
• Expanding the ability to require permits for the removal of stockpiled Crown aggregate or topsoil by describing specific criteria in regulation;
• Creating flexibility for the Minister to waive application requirements in order to address unique situations;
• Authorizing the creation of regulations to exempt specific activities from licencing or permitting requirements if specific conditions are met; and
• Establishing the application documentation requirements for grandfathering applications that are currently described in policy within the legislation.
• Increasing the maximum penalties to $1,000,000 plus an additional $100,000 for each day the offence continues, and eliminating the minimum $500 fine to support the ability to enforce the Act by way of Part I tickets under the Provincial Offences Act;
• Establishing clear offense provisions for submitting false or misleading information in a report or in information that is required under the Act, the regulations, a site plan or a licence or permit;
• Protecting the inspectors, public servants, and the Minister from liability for any acts that they have done in good faith under the Act; and
• Recognizing the inspection report that is currently used to document the findings of an inspection.
Fees and royalties
• Increasing flexibility with respect to the collection and distribution of fees and royalties;
• Requiring existing fees for applications, amendments, transfers, etc. to be established in regulation;
• Enabling setting of new fees in regulation for a broader array of requests (e.g., requests for amendments, acceptance of surrender);
• Clarifying that aggregate permits with a mining lease are subject to royalty charges (unless they have been exempted); and
• Creating flexibility for the Minister to waive certain fees.
Other changes have been proposed to improve the administration of the legislation and address housekeeping edits. For example:
• Clarifying that licensees and permittees are only protected from prosecution on self-reported violations if they are reported before they are discovered by an Inspector;
• Allowing the Minister to substitute a licence for a permit issued to the same person where a different approval type is required because there has been a change in land ownership or designation under s. 5;
• Allowing the Minister to specify when the ministry will require official party status at an Ontario Municipal Board hearing, and allowing the Board to send referrals back to the ministry where objections have been resolved before a hearing starts;
• Clarifying that the name and address of individuals who participate in the prescribed notification and consultation procedures are a part of the public record unless the individual requests that the information remain confidential; and
• Repealing sections and definitions that are no longer required.
In addition several specific definitions and requirements for applications, amendments and reporting are proposed to be moved to the regulations.
The information above includes key highlights of the proposed changes within the bill. All of the changes in the bill can be viewed on the Ontario Legislative Assembly website at the links provided in the bottom of this notice.
Many of the proposed legislative changes are enabling in nature and will require amendments to regulations under the Act, or the Aggregate Resources of Ontario Provincial Standards in order to implement them. Other changes, which are identified in Schedule 1, subsection 54(2) of the proposed bill, would only come into force at a later date (to be proclaimed by the Lieutenant Governor).
Should the bill pass, the ministry will move forward with public consultations on future proposed regulatory and policy changes under the revised Act.