The comments received on the Blueprint for Change were generally supportive of the need for changes to the Aggregate Resources Act policy framework. The comments received on each of the 45 proposals outlined in the Blueprint reflected the broad perspectives of the Indigenous communities, stakeholders, industry, municipalities and members of the public who provided feedback.
Overall, with some exceptions, there was general support for several of the proposed changes, including changes related to the requirements for studies and information that must be conducted as part of the application process, to notification, consultation and communication requirements and to reporting requirements. Some of the comments received on these proposals were concerned with possible duplication with other approval processes while others wanted additional enhancements made.
There were several specific concerns expressed across all commenters related to any change that could reduce the requirement of existing operators to self-report on compliance annually. Most other proposals received a mixed reaction, with some commenters expressing support for the changes and others expressing concerns. In particular there was a strong mixed reaction to proposals related to enabling a new 'permit by rule' approach for low risk activities, allowing for peer reviews of technical studies, and allowing the Minister to require new studies on existing sites.
Several comments focused on suggested improvements to the management and regulation of aggregate extraction in general. These comments included calls for: increased fees to better address municipal infrastructure costs, improvements to MNRF’s capacity for carrying out inspection and enforcement actions, more streamlining and alignments of various policies and approval processes, improvements to the rehabilitation and management of inactive sites, and increased support for recycling.
Comments were also received calling for clear language and guidelines regarding the Crown’s duty to consult with Aboriginal communities, better support for Indigenous participation in approval processes, and greater opportunities for communities to share in the benefits of aggregate resource development.
A significant number of submissions (about two hundred) were received calling for bolder steps to be taken regarding the protection of Ontario's prime farmland and water resources through strengthened legislation, regulation and policy.
In addition to this posting, the Ministry also held facilitated regional sessions for Indigenous communities across the province, as well as sessions for selected stakeholders. Input received during these sessions was used to inform development of proposed legislative changes and will inform future phases of changes to the policy framework.
The comments received on the Blueprint for Change document demonstrated strong support for changes to the Aggregate Resources Act policy framework. Based on this support, the province has made the decision to proceed with a phased approach to making changes, beginning with proposals to amend the Aggregate Resource Act. To comment on the proposed Bill, visit www.ontario.ca/environmentalregistry and search for ER# 012-8443.
Comments received on the Blueprint related to proposed changes to the regulation, standards or policies, will be reviewed and considered in more detail as more specific proposals for changes under these phases move forward. There will be additional opportunities to comment on proposed changes under these phases in the future.
A link to the paper is provided: