Bean Harvest 2014

Bean Harvest 2014

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Court of Appeal rules "restoration" of farm land required aggregates licence

An excavating company was charged under the Aggregates Resources Act for operating a pit without a licence.  The company was carrying out a contract with a farmer, removing topsoil, levelling sand knolls, selling the sand, and then restoring the topsoil to restore it for farming.  Neither the company nor the farmer had obtained a licence to operate a pit or quarry under the Act.

At trial, the Justice of the Peace acquitted the company on the basis that the land, which was not a pit, was being rehabilitated for farming.  The Crown appealed that decision to the Ontario Court of Justice, which found that it was not the purpose of the Act to regulate the type of activity where "a farmer was simply trying to improve his farmland to grow better crops".

The Court of Appeal disagreed:
It is clear that what the respondent was doing was excavating a pit within the grammatical and ordinary sense of the definition in the ARA. The respondent argues that the ARAshould not be interpreted to include pits that are being excavated and that will be rehabilitated in order to improve farmland and not for the purpose of commercial aggregate production. The problem with that interpretation is thats. 1(3) provides a specific ministerial exemption where the primary purpose of the excavation is not for the production of aggregate. There would be no need for such an exemption if the licencing requirement did not apply, prima facie, to the particular excavation. Moreover, the intention to rehabilitate the excavation in the future does not take the operation out of the definition of a “pit”. That definition covers land “that has not been rehabilitated” and s. 48 requires all licencees and permittees to rehabilitate the site in accordance with the Act and regulations.

The Court of Appeal set aside the acquittal and, based on an agreed statement of facts in the case, entered a conviction and sent the case back to the Justice of the Peace for sentencing.

Read the decision at: R. v. Ontario Corp. 311578 (Dedrick Bros. Excavating Ltd.).