ARA, ICBL, ESA - what on earth?
To understand the issue, it is important to understand the terminology used in the aggregates industry.



43,560 square feet (4047 square metres). About 40% of a hectare.

For natural resources extraction purposes, aggregate is defined as “gravel, sand...stone, limestone, dolostone...or rock”. In other words, it is almost any bulk mineral resource other than metal ore. Aggregate can be unconsolidated (gravel or sand that exists as separate particles), or it can be consolidated (solid rock). Consolidated aggregate is often broken up or crushed for use. The aggregates that concern us are gravel, sand and dolostone.

Amabel Formation

The Amabel Formation is a dolostone, which is a variation of limestone, in which some calcium in the rock has been substituted by magnesium making the rock more resistant to weathering. The Formation is the surface rock unit which is exposed along the Niagara Escarpment brow and the Escarpment face, and it runs north from the Dundas Burlington area to Manitoulin Island. The fractured limestone and dolomite of the Amabel and Guelph formations readily permit groundwater flow and are among the most significant aquifers in Southern Ontario.


The groundwater which collects between the layers of hard rocks is called 'acquifer'. An aquifer is a layer of water-bearing in an the underground level made of permeable rock, or what is called rock fractures or unconsolidated materials.

Aggregate Resources Act (ARA)

This Ontario law controls gravel pits and quarries in Ontario.

Berm (Dirt Pile)

Strips of soil and subsoil are bulldozed to the edges of pits and quarries. These are intended to mitigate dust leaving the site and to prepare for eventual rehabilitation after the interim use of the lands. There are reports of materials being added to these during their construction or at the end of aggregate production.


Although the terms cement and concrete often are used interchangeably, cement is actually an ingredient of concrete. Concrete is a mixture of aggregates and paste. The aggregates are sand and gravel or crushed stone; the paste is water and portland cement.

Close To Market

A term used by the aggregate industry and generally understood to mean: in close proximity to where the aggregate will ultimately be “consumed” (i.e. used in road and rail beds, drainage, etc.), or Processed into other materials that are partially composed of aggregates (concrete, etc.).


A composite material composed of fine and coarse aggregate bonded together with a fluid cement (cement paste) that hardens (cures) over time.

Credit Valley Conservation (CVC)

"Credit Valley Conservation (CVC) is a community-based environmental organization, dedicated to protecting, restoring and managing the natural resources of the Credit River Watershed. Established by the provincial government in 1954, CVC is one of 36 Conservation Authorities in Ontario. We are the primary scientific authority for the watershed and work in partnership with municipal governments, landowners, community organizations, schools and businesses to deliver locally-based programs."

DAMN Campaign

Set up by Reform Gravel Mining Coalition. "Demand a Moratorium Now". "We demand the Ontario government impose a moratorium on all new applications for gravel mining in Ontario, including interim orders. This moratorium should include all site plan amendments for mining below the water table or that increase licensed tonnages." FCPG is a supporter of this campaign.


Any water that is impounded or collects in a quarry, and is pumped, drained, or otherwise removed from the pit.


A fine-grained sedimentary rock composed primarily of dolomite, a calcium and magnesium carbonate mineral. Dolostone is similar to limestone.

Dust (Airborne Contaminants)

“Dust” in terms of aggregate operations refers to airborne contamination of the environment. Recent research by Dr. Ray Copes and others points to the dangers posed to human, animal and environmental health by PM 2.5 fine particulate matter, the invisible component of dust.

Endangered Species Act (ESA)

"A species shall be classified as an endangered species if it lives in the wild in Ontario but is facing imminent extinction or extirpation." Refer to "Pay to Slay" definition.

Environmental Assessment (EA)

"The environmental assessments process ensures that governments and public bodies consider potential environmental effects before an infrastructure project begins."

Environmental Bill of Rights (EBR)

"The Environmental Bill of Rights (EBR) is a provincial law in Ontario, Canada passed in 1993 to provide a bill of rights to Ontario residents for environmental matters. Significantly, it gives Ontario residents the right to participate in environmental decision-making."

Environmental Protection Act (EPA)

"The purpose of this Act is to provide for the protection and conservation of the natural environment."

Excess Soil

The extraction of aggregate leaves inviting holes which the excess soil industry eyes for disposal of contaminated dirt from post-industrial construction sites. Proximity to ground water is a major concern.


Fly rock is the unplanned ejection of rock fragments from blast holes, travelling distances as far as 600 m at speeds of up to 650 km/h.


A loose aggregation of rock fragments 


"Ontario's Greenbelt protects farmland, communities, forests, wetlands and watersheds. It also preserves cultural heritage and supports recreation and tourism in Ontario's Greater Golden Horseshoe."

Greenland System

The Greenlands System in Peel comprises features (such as rivers and forests) and the surrounding areas that link together and support them.


The water found underground in the cracks and spaces in soil, sand and rock. It is stored in and moves slowly through geologic formations of soil, sand and rocks called aquifers.

Grout Curtain

A grout curtain is a untested barrier that protects the foundation of a dam from seepage and can be made during initial construction or during repair.


A habitat is the home of a species, plant or animal. Home is defined in a very broad sense, and includes the area or areas used by the species to live, feed and reproduce. This would include the physical features of that area including climate, elevation, topography, soil, water, exposure to the elements, etc., and all the other plants, animals and microorganisms in that area that affect the species.


10,000 square metres. 2.47 acres. 


A sedimentary rock largely or wholly composed of calcium carbonate. Important to the construction industry as building stone and aggregate, and as the primary component of portland cement and lime. 

Local Planning Appeals Tribunal (LPAT)

Replaced the OMB and was then replaced by the OLT 
No Need to Show Need

The Provincial Policy Statement 2020 retains the controversial statement that the aggregate industry has “no need to show need” when applying for new aggregate licenses or expansions which had previously appeared in PPS 2014

Ontario Land Tribunal (OLT)

Previously the OMB and LPAT. "(its) planning jurisdiction includes hearing and deciding appeals in relation to a broad range of land use planning and development, heritage conservation and municipal governance."

Ontario Municipal Board (OMB)

Replaced by LPAT then the OLT

Ontario Stone, Sand and Gravel Association (OSSGA)

Represents 280+ sand and gravel companies
Pay to Slay

Actually the Species At Risk Conservation Fund but basically companies can just pay a penalty to destroy species and their habitats. Hence the name given to it by environmental groups.


A pit is an area of land from which unconsolidated aggregate (sand and/or gravel) is being excavated. Usually much smaller scale operations than quarries.

PM2.5, PM10

Particulate matter that is very small which makes it easy to get lodged deep in a person's lungs. PM2.5 is the smallest size, smaller than a blood cell. Both PM's create a risk of serious health impacts.

Pond/Settling Pond/Sludge Pond

Man-made settling ponds are part of the process by pits and quarries to remove suspended particles aka grit or dust, from water. The removal of suspended particles from water used by aggregate sites before being dumped into watersheds is measured by the kill rates on trout fingerlings, a species sensitive to murkiness. Note that suspended particles are not the only threat.; Dissolved elements need to be measured.

Provincial Policy Statement (PPS)

Issued under the authority of Section 3 of the Planning Act. It provides direction on matters of provincial interest related to land use planning and development, and promotes the provincial policy-led planning system.


A quarry is an area of land from which consolidated aggregate (solid rock) is being excavated. This excavation requires blasting and can go below the water table


"Rehabilitation” is often interpreted by the general public to mean a restoration back to the previous condition, quality and use of the lands. This is rarely, if ever, the case with extraction sites.Aggregate advocates point to a very few rehabilitation projects often completed with public money and/or work by community or children’s groups while ignoring the vast majority of pits left for decades under licence or from before the current Act which have not seen rehabilitation. Restoration is not merely rewilding. The success of rehabilitation, e.g., to agricultural purposes, is contested by the National Farmers’ Union which points to lost soil fertility.

Sensitive receptor

The aggregate industry's term for people and other creatures, woodlands, water, homes.


The distance a pit or quarry must be from a sensitive receptor.

Species at Risk

In Ontario, a species at risk is officially defined as “any plant or animal threatened by, or vulnerable to extinction.” A species becomes extinct when all the members of that species have died. There are several categories of risk officially recognized in Ontario. The two most serious categories are “endangered” and “threatened”. A species considered to be officially endangered is “any native species that is at risk of becoming extinct in Ontario.” A species considered to be officially threatened is “any native species that is at risk of becoming endangered in Ontario.” In Ontario, as in most of the world, the greatest problem for species at risk is the loss of habitat.

Surface Water

Any body of water above ground, including streams, rivers, lakes, wetlands, reservoirs, and creeks.

Top Aggregate Producing Municipalities of Ontario (TAPMO)

"The Top Aggregate Producing Municipalities of Ontario (TAPMO) have joined together to work with industry partners and provincial decision-makers to developing a sustainable plan for aggregate extraction."

The Ontario Aggregate Research Council (TOARC)

A wing of OSSGA which accesses levies which otherwise might be paid to municipalities and which does some research into rehabilitation though most of it is not peer-reviewed.

Water Table

The upper surface of ground water is the water table. Below this surface, all the pore spaces and cracks in sediments and rocks are completely filled (saturated) with water. These saturated layers, known as the saturated zone (or the phreatic zone), are where ground water occurs.


Wetlands are lands that are seasonally or permanently covered by shallow water, including lands where the water table is at or close to the surface. The abundant water favours the dominance of water plants or water-tolerant plants and aquatic or semi-aquatic animal communities. Wetlands may exist on their own, or as shoreline features of bodies of water such as lakes, rivers or streams. As mentioned above, wetlands may be seasonal-wet in the spring and early summer, but drying up later in the season. Such seasonal wetlands may not even be “wet” in the driest years.