The Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change is engaging Ontarians on an Excess Soil Management Policy Framework (“proposed framework”) that proposes a path forward and guiding principles for the development of policy related to the management of excess soil.
The proposed framework embraces two key goals to:
- protect human health and the environment from the inappropriate relocation of excess soil; and
- enhance opportunities for the beneficial re-use of excess soil.
The proposed framework also includes:
- principles to guide policy and program development;
- a description of existing policy and current roles and responsibilities; and
- policy needs, actions and priorities.
The proposed framework recognizes excess soil as a resource and promotes a system which strives for consistency, fairness, enforceability, and flexibility.
The framework would shift more responsibility onto the generator of excess soil (the source site) to better plan for its appropriate re-use and track and record excess soil from “source to reuse”. This type of policy shift would be achieved through proposed new regulatory requirements on source sites to prepare and implement excess soil management plans, certified by a Qualified Person. These excess soil management plans could be integrated into existing land use planning and development approval processes.
Currently, a number of policy tools can apply in varying degrees to the management of excess soil at receiving sites, such as municipal by-laws, conservation authority permits and/or Aggregate Resources Act licences. This framework proposes to fill a need for clear policies and guidance for receiving sites with respect to management and oversight to better inform and achieve consistency in the application of these policy tools. The framework also proposes development of guidance for the agricultural community to manage excess soils being received for agricultural purposes.
In order to achieve consistency at source and receiving sites, the framework proposes that technical direction, including standards for re-use of excess soil, be prepared by the province, as well as best practices for tracking excess soil.
Excess soil re-use would be considered earlier on in the process of planning for development and infrastructure. Municipalities would be encouraged to develop strategies for re-use of excess soil as part of planning for growth and development.
Further policy alignment and consistent application across the province could be achieved through potential amendments to relevant legislation and plans. Several of these are currently under review, including the Municipal Act, Conservation Authorities Act, the Aggregate Resources Act, and the coordinated review of provincial plans. Clarification and alignment would also be achieved through consideration of potential amendments to existing regulations related to brownfields redevelopment and inert fill as it applies to excess soil, both under the Environmental Protection Act.
The proposed framework recognizes that excess soil management is a matter that crosses the interests and policies of multiple ministries and levels of government. It also recognizes the expertise and role of industry and non-governmental organizations. The implementation of the framework would be informed by advice and input from a multi-ministry and multi-stakeholder working group. This would include investigating approaches to program delivery, e.g. like the United Kingdom’s CL:AIRE model, that promote market mechanisms to encourage the reuse of excess soil.