Ministry of the Environment releases proposed Excess Soil Management Policy Framework
Ted Arnott, MPP
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 3, 2016
Ministry of the Environment releases proposed Excess Soil
Management Policy Framework
(Queen’s Park) – The Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change is consulting on a
new policy framework to ensure that fill being dumped in rural Ontario is safe.
The problem of compromised soil has been a big issue in Wellington-Halton Hills and other
Ridings close to the GTA in recent years. Wellington-Halton Hills MPP Ted Arnott has been
raising the need for a new comprehensive province-wide policy to address the problem for
four years, working with local government leaders.
Mr. Arnott first wrote to the Minister of the Environment in February 2012, asking him to
establish an Interministerial Committee to develop solutions for the effective regulation of
the dumping of fill.
The proposed Excess Soil Management Policy Framework is the result of a review that was
launched by the Ministry of the Environment in January 2014 in response to an Application
for Review which Mr. Arnott submitted to Ontario’s Environmental Commissioner. In his
submission, Mr. Arnott called on the Government to conduct a comprehensive review of the
Province’s policies related to the handling of the disposal of fill and compromised soil.
The news appears to be a positive step forward, but Mr. Arnott questioned why it has taken
the Government so long to respond.
“The proposed Policy Framework is clearly an acknowledgement by the Government that
the current system isn’t good enough,” Mr. Arnott said. “I’m glad they’ve finally gotten back
to us in a comprehensive manner, but it shouldn’t have taken them four years to reach that
Mr. Arnott has pointed out that there is currently no province-wide policy regulating the
disposal of fill. Individual municipalities are responsible for providing oversight and there is
no process in place to ensure that compromised soil is being disposed of safely, he says.
“Given the volume of fill that is being trucked out of the city and dumped in rural Ontario, we
have a responsibility to ensure that this fill is safe and that the health of local residents and
the safety of our water supply isn’t being put at risk,” Mr. Arnott argued.
Among the areas for improvement identified by the proposed Excess Soil Management
Policy Framework are the need for greater responsibility by owners of the source sites that
generate excess soil to ensure that the soil reaches appropriate receiving sites, better
oversight of receiving sites, protection of sensitive areas of provincial and local interest, and
encouraging better planning for the reuse of soil.
“The proposed Policy Framework appears to be a comprehensive response to the problem,”
Mr. Arnott concluded. “I hope this report is taken seriously, and doesn’t just gather dust on
The proposed Excess Soil Management Policy Framework has been posted on the
Environmental Registry for 60 days of public consultation. Interested people have until
March 26 to offer comments. It can be found the Environmental Registry website at
https://www.ebr.gov.on.ca under the Registry Number: 012-6065.
(Attached: Copy of the letter Mr. Arnott received from the Ministry of the Environment and
Climate Change and the proposed Soil Management Policy Framework.)
– 30 –
Ted Arnott, MPP
Ministère de l’Environnement et
de l’Action en matière de
Ministry of the Environment and
Assistant Deputy Minister
77, rue Wellesley Ouest
11 étage, edifice Ferguson
77 Wellesley St. West 11 Floor
Toronto ON M7A 2T5
Toronto ON M7A 2T5
January 26, 2016
Re. Environmental Bill of Rights Application for Review #R2013005
“Requesting a review of the need to establish a new comprehensive, province-wide policy to
address the problem of compromised soil and to ensure that fill being dumped onto sites is
Dear Mr. Arnott:
Thank you for your application for review, submitted under Part IV of the Environmental Bill of
Rights, 1993 (EBR). I am writing to inform you that the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and
Climate Change (MOECC) has completed its review of the need for excess soil related policy
including the requested review of “the need to establish a new comprehensive, province-wide
policy to address the problem of compromised soil”.
In accordance with section 117 of the EBR, the consideration of and decision on the review
have been delegated by the Minister to me as the Assistant Deputy Minister of the Climate
Change and Environmental Policy Division.
MOECC undertook this review with the support of a multi-ministry working group consisting of
the ministries of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Natural Resources and Forestry, Agriculture,
Food and Rural Affairs, and Transportation, other ministries, including Economic Development,
Employment and Infrastructure and Tourism, Culture and Sport were also involved. MOECC
also conducted a number of listening sessions with key stakeholders, research, review of
Ontario’s existing legislative and operational policies, and analysis of approaches in other
Conclusions of Excess Soil Policy Review
The review undertaken has identified that current policy related to excess soil management in
Ontario could be clarified and improved, and that some new policies may be necessary to
address key policy needs and gaps. MOECC, along with supporting Ministries, has concluded
that a policy framework is necessary to support implementation of the directions set out in
MOECC’s existing “Management of Excess Soil – A Guide for Best Management Practices”
(BMP). This framework would build upon the existing policy tools and recent efforts of many
organizations to implement effective sustainable excess soil management practices.
These areas for policy improvement would help protect the environment and provide greater
confidence in the appropriate management of excess soil. They include the need for:
greater responsibility by owners of source sites that generate excess soil to ensure
that their excess soil reaches appropriate receiving sites;
clearer roles and responsibilities amongst all who manage or provide an oversight role
in the management of excess soil;
specific gaps in receiving site oversight to be filled and new guidance to promote
better oversight at receiving sites, including to inform municipal by-laws;
greater clarity of existing regulations such as brownfields-related requirements and
inert fill provisions clarifying when excess soil must be managed as a “waste”;
enhanced enforcement mechanisms and tools to address illegal activities;
clearer technical guidance and direction with respect to excess soil re-use standards
and testing procedures, to assist technical professionals, to integrate into oversight
policies, and to help ensure excess soil management is protective of human health and
better tracking and record keeping of excess soil movements to confirm that excess
soil reaches intended receiving sites and to facilitate oversight;
protection of sensitive areas of provincial and local interest, including natural
heritage and hydrologic features and functions, farmland, and significant cultural heritage
landscapes and archaeological resources; and
greater consideration of excess soil management when planning for development
and infrastructure projects, to better plan for appropriate excess soil re-use and to identify
and promote local re-use opportunities for excess soil.
Proposed Excess Soil Management Policy Framework
Based on the results of the review, the province has developed a proposed Excess Soil
Management Policy Framework which is attached here and is posted on the Environmental
Bill of Rights Registry. The proposed framework is based on two key goals:
1. to protect human health and the environment from the inappropriate management of
excess soil; and
2. to encourage the beneficial re-use of excess soil.
The proposed Excess Soil Management Policy 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 framework recognizes excess soil as a resource and promotes a system which strives for
consistency, fairness, enforceability, and flexibility.
Improvements in existing policy and the development of new policy would recognize that
movement of excess soil supports critical economic and development activities, must take into
account the roles and responsibilities of all parties involved in excess soil management and
oversight, and must be designed to integrate with business practices to facilitate successful
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 re-use”.
This type of policy shift would be achieved through 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 also 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 and permits. There is a need for clear guidance for receiving
sites to better inform the application of these policy tools and such guidance is proposed. The
framework also proposes development of guidance for the agricultural community to manage
excess soils being received for agricultural purposes.
The province heard clearly throughout the review that there was a need to provide more
technical direction. In order to achieve consistency at source and receiving sites, the framework
proposes that technical direction, including re-use and testing standards, be prepared by the
province, as well as best practices for tracking excess soil.
Excess soil re-use would also 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 to waste management as it applies to excess soil, both under
the Environmental Protection Act.
The draft 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
CL:AIRE model, that promote market mechanisms to encourage the reuse of excess soil.
In the coming months, the province will complete consultations on actions which are proposed
as part of the framework, posted on the EBR (see Registry # 012-6065), and will undertake to
develop priority policies in accordance with that framework.
I would like to thank you for your interest in the sustainable management of excess soil. If you
have any questions regarding the review, please contact Ling Mark, Director, Land and Water
Policy Branch (416- 314-7020).
Kathleen O’Neill, on behalf of
Assistant Deputy Minister, Climate Change Environmental Planning Division
c: P. Lapp, Office of the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario
c: J. Gallacher, Environmental Bill of Rights Office