Excess Soil Management
Excess soil is soil that has been excavated and must be moved because it either cannot, or will not, be reused on a construction site. Municipal governments need policies that protect public health and the environment by preventing this soil from being illegally dumped or disposed in landfills. AMO has long supported opportunities to reuse excess soil and reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with transporting it.
There are significant Excess Soil Management regulatory changes (e.g., O. Reg. 406/19 under the Environmental Protection Act) that come into effect January 1, 2022. These reuse changes include the requirements to test, track, and register excess soil. This is in addition to reuse rules which were already in effect on January 1, 2021. This regulation is welcomed and addresses many municipal concerns.
The new rules include risk-based soil quality reuse standards and requirements for planning and tracking the reuse or disposal of excess soil from projects prescribed in the regulation. There are also requirements for prescribed larger excess soil reuse site operators to have procedures in place to better understand the soil they receive.
Municipal governments are encouraged to see the Resource Productivity and Recovery Authority (RPRA) be responsible for establishing and maintaining the registry where the required notices will be filed, under direction from the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks. More information about the Registry can be found here, and an overview of the Ministry’s new rules and timeline is here.
AMO welcomed the introduction of the Excess Soil Management Regulation in 2018. The regulations require owners of the site to create excess soil plans to track soils from excavation to reuse. The new regulations also harmonize requirements for related activities, such as brownfields. These changes reflect AMO’s recommendations on the policy framework proposed by the former Ministry of Environment and Climate Change in 2016.
To ensure this new compliance and reporting regime is successful, municipal governments continue to work with the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks on the implementation efforts. Fact sheets, outreach sessions, and guidance from other ministries continue to be important. For example, on December 3rd a webinar was held with the Ministry and RPRA on the municipal implications.
As well, where the municipal government is generating excess soils, there will be new costs to hire a qualified person to write the excess soils plans. We will continue to advocate for an appropriate municipal fee from source site owners to help cover the costs of municipal tasks.