The glossary serves to clarify many words, terms and acronyms used by operators, proponents, “experts”, and the government in communicating issues related to the aggregate industry.
  • Above Water Table:
  • Aggregate: 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.
  • A.R.A.Ontario’s Aggregate Resources Act. This law controls gravel pits and quarries in Ontario. You can access the full ARA and related policy documents through the “Policy” link on this site.
  • A.R.O.P.S.: Aggregate Resources of Ontario, Provincial Standards, Version 1.0. This document gives details of requirements for pits and quarries, for licensing them and for reporting on them. Essential reading if you are trying to figure out if a proposed pit is legal according to Ontario law. Available for about $55 from Publications Canada, (416) 326-5300, 880 Bay St., Toronto.
  • Below Water Table:
  • E.B.R.: Environmental Bill of Rights:
  • E.C.O.: Environmental Commissioner of Ontario, which administers the Ontario Environmental Bill of Rights. Under the EBR, you can participate in ministry decisions about the environment and hold the government accountable for those decisions. You have the right to comment on environmentally significant government proposals, to seek permission to appeal a ministry decision, or to ask a ministry to review a law or investigate harm to the environment. If you think a pit is harming the environment, and you can’t get the MNR or the MOE (Ministry of Environment) to act, you should contact the ECO.
  • E.P.A.: Environmental Protection Act
  • Habitat: 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.
  • M.N.R.F.Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. Ontario ministry responsible for aggregate pits and quarries, and for enforcing the Aggregate Resources Act.
  • M.O.E.C.C.: Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change.
  • Official Plan (OP): Each Ontario governmental unit such as a county or township has an Official Plan which includes policy regarding aggregate pits and quarries. In many cases, before a new pit or quarry is allowed, the OP must be amended by Council to change zoning of the site. For example, see the Official Plan for Wellington County.
  • O.P.A. (Official Plan Amendment): an amendment to the Official Plan of a municipality.
  • O.M.B.The Ontario Municipal Board is an independent adjudicative tribunal that hears appeals and applications and resolves land use disputes under a variety of legislation. The Ontario government appoints Members to the OMB. Members include people from different areas of the province with diverse backgrounds such as lawyers, former elected officials, engineers, surveyors, planners and public administrators.
  • Ombudsman of Ontario: The Ombudsman’s job is to ensure the accountability of government through effective oversight of the administration of government services in the province … The Ombudsman investigates both individual and systemic complaints about the administration of provincial government services including complaints about Ontario government organizations including many tribunals.
  • Natural Heritage Reference Manuala guide for those who require additional information on technical issues relative to the application of Section 2.3 – Natural Heritage of the Provincial Policy Statement (PPS) (Table 1.1). The PPS provides policy direction on matters of provincial interest in municipal land use planning under the Planning Act.
  • Pit: 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.
  • P.P.S.: The Ontario Provincial Policy Statement is 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.
  • Quarry: A quarry is an area of land from which consolidated aggregate (solid rock) is being excavated. This excavation often requires blasting and can go below the water table.
  • Rehabilitation: Also called restoration or reclamation. The ARA (see above) requires progressive rehabilitation. The ARA states: “Every licensee and every permittee shall perform progressive rehabilitation and final rehabilitation on the site in accordance with this Act, the regulations, the site plan and the conditions of the license or permit to the satisfaction of the Minister” (Section 48)
  • SilicosisSilicosis is caused by the inhalation of crystalline silica dust. Symptoms include breathlessness, weakness, chest pain, cough and excess sputum. Silicosis can be fatal, due to heart failure.
  • 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.
  • Wetlands: 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.


Words and terms should accurately describe the situation or issues - whoever establishes the terms can steer the debate. Terms should be used which the public understands, which aptly communicate the issues, and which do not leave key considerations out of the discussion. The “anti-glossary” serves to illuminate and clarify terms often used by the industry that might be ambiguous, confusing or misleading.
  • Dust: “Dust” in lay terms usually refers to that pesky stuff we have to brush off of our furniture now and then – mildly annoying but otherwise harmless. “Dust” in terms of aggregate operations refers to airborne airborne contaminants that result ”. Preferred term: Airborne contaminants.
  • Interim land use: Without “sunset clauses” – defined limits on the life of the operation, after which a transition to the planned after-use is undertaken, there is no guarantee the lands will ever be recovered for other uses. Preferred term: Long-term land use, with permanent negative impacts.
  • Landfill: While the industry claims that sanitary landfills are environmentally sound, science tells us they are prone to leaking, dumping chemicals into the water table. Preferred term: Dump.
  • Mitigation: “Mitigation” might be interpreted to mean that the negative impacts have been eliminated. In reality, most mitigation simply reduces the negative impacts to a presumed “acceptable” level. Preferred term: Damage control.
  • Pond or lake: “Pond” or “lake” might imply a beautiful naturally-created water feature. Ponds on aggregate sites are used to wash waste materials off of the stone, and to allow the solid wastes to settle out of the slurry. The bodies of water left behind are usually visually uninteresting, and often nearly lifeless. Preferred term: Sludge pond, settling pond or washing pond.
  • Recycling of aggregate: It’s an industrial process; usually permanent or long-term, and potentially dangerous to the environmental and human health, particularly when conducted in inappropriate locations with inadequate controls. Preferred term: Reprocessing of aggregate-laden industrial waste.
  • Rehabilitation: “Rehabilitation” is often interpreted to mean a restoration back to the previous condition, quality and use of the lands. This is rarely the case with extraction sites. Preferred term: Transition to after-use.