Environmental regulatory requirements for managing excess soil in Ontario have been on a government seesaw over the past year (O. Reg. 406/19: On-Site and Excess Soil Regulation or “Excess Soil Regulation”).
In January 2022, contractors were scrambling to comply with the more-stringent soil management requirements. By April 21, 2022, these new requirements were officially paused by the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP). This temporary pause was followed by a November 4, 2022, announcement by the MECP that they were proposing to amend the regulations.
Excess Soil Regulation Proposed Amendments
In the November announcement, Amendments to Certain Requirements under the Excess Soil Regulation, the MECP provided the following summary, “The Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks is proposing to amend the Excess Soil Regulation, Ontario Regulation 406/19, to remove the reuse planning requirements, including registration, sampling and tracking, for excess soil moved from lower risk projects, and to enable larger temporary piles of soil for storage.”
The changes, if adopted, will remove the reuse planning requirements (such as registration, sampling, and tracking) for soils that are moved from lower-risk sites.
These lower-risk project sites would include agricultural, residential, parkland, or institutional property use
According to the MECP, Section 14 of the Excess Soil Regulation would be revoked.
Also, as stated by the MECP, “This exemption would not apply, however, to a project area if the project leader determines that the project area was used as an enhanced investigation project area or that it is impacted by historical contamination.”
The project leader is the person or persons who are ultimately responsible for making decisions relating to the planning and implementation of the project.
Accordingly, for the low-risk projects sites, you can do your own due diligence to document soil quality for a third party along with a signed, written agreement to accept soil.
Another important proposed amendment relates to the stockpiling of soil. You may recall that previously, soil stored in stockpiles was not allowed to exceed 2,500 cubic metres. The MECP recognized that this limitation would be too limiting in certain situations. Accordingly, the amended rules would allow for the stockpiling of up to 10,000 cubic metres of soil. Note that all stockpiled soil must be properly managed to avoid adverse effects from the management soils.
We are closely monitoring the Excess Soil Regulation developments and will provide an update as soon as we learn of anything new. We also anticipate providing a short pre-recorded webinar once the dust settles. If you want to be informed once this webinar is available, drop us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Note: On December 23, 2022, we received a notice from the MECP stating, “Ontario has finalized amendments to O. Reg. 406/19.” This blog was written prior to this notice. The changes to excess soil management will be final as of January 1, 2023.
See final decision as updated December 23, 2022.
In the meantime, if you have questions about management of excess soil in Ontario, including estimates for construction projects in 2023, please contact Christopher Paré at 519-979-7300, Ext. 114. You can also reach Chris via email.
This blog was drafted by Alan Hahn. Alan has an undergraduate degree in Environmental Studies and completed a graduate program in Environmental Management. He has worked in environmental management for 45 years. He has written hundreds of blogs and articles. His published work includes HazMat Magazine, BizX Magazine, Michigan Lawyers Weekly, GreenStone Partners, Manure Manager Magazine, and Progressive Dairy.
This blog was reviewed by Christopher Paré, P.Geo. Chris is a senior geoscientist and manager of Dragun’s Windsor, Ontario, office. Chris has more than 30 years of experience on projects ranging from environmental site assessments (Phase One/Two ESA), remedial investigations, soil and groundwater remediation, Permits to Take Water, Records of Site Conditions, excess soil management, vapour intrusion, and site decommissioning. Chris is a frequent speaker, author, and expert witness. See Chris’ bio.
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