Originally published in Blakes Bulletin on Environmental
Law, July 2009
On July 8, 2009, the Government of Quebec announced a program to
delegate to regional county municipalities (RCMs) decision-making
powers regarding sand and gravel mining on public land. RCMs and
municipalities not covered by an RCM can now enter into delegation
agreements with the government. In order to ensure efficient
allocation of its resources, the government has announced that it
will give priority to signing these agreements in areas of the
province where all RCMs and municipalities are in favour of
Under the Act respecting the Ministère des Ressources
naturelles et de la Faune (the Act), the Minister of Natural
Resources and Wildlife (MNRW) has authority to grant and regulate
mining rights on public land. Under the Act, as well as pursuant to
section 10.5 of the Municipal Code of Québec, the
MNRW also has authority to transfer these powers to RCMs and
The Act stipulates that for this transfer of responsibilities to
be valid, the MNRW must first publish its decentralization program
in the official gazette, outlining the basic terms of the
initiative, which will likely be non-negotiable. Thus, for example,
RCMs signing a delegation agreement will have to accept
responsibility for managing holiday leases on public land.
SCOPE OF DELEGATED POWERS
Powers to delegate include:
signing sand and gravel mining leases;
issuing authorizations to extract those substances;
issuing certificates of authorization under section 22 of the
Environment Quality Act;
collecting rent and royalties;
reclaiming non-exclusive sand pits and gravel pits when the
source is exhausted; and
appointing inspectors as defined in the Mining
In exchange, RCMs will keep 50% of the revenues generated by the
delegated powers, which they must pay into a regional development
fund. The powers can be subdelegated to a management board, subject
to the consent of the minister. Agreements can be cancelled by the
government in the public interest, to address aboriginal concerns,
or where an RCM is breaking the law. The first delegation
agreements are expected to take effect in the spring of 2010.
Decentralization of leasing and permitting for sand and gravel
extraction is on the horizon in Quebec. We understand that, so far,
upwards of 50 municipalities have indicated an interest in pursuing
the delegation process. It remains to be seen whether this is good
news or bad news for those who rely on timely access to the
resource in the conduct of their operations.
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guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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