Ontario Taking Action to Reuse Soil and Hold Polluters Accountable

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Ontario Taking Action to Reuse Soil and Hold Polluters Accountable

Proposed Changes Clarify Rules and Remove Barriers for Redevelopment

Ontario's government is protecting what matters most by safeguarding ground and surface water and preserving human health through proper management of excess soil and strengthened enforcement against environmental violations, including illegal soil dumping. The province's proposed changes will reduce the risk of soil being mismanaged and put vacant lands back to use.

Ontario is proposing to introduce changes that will make it safer and easier for more excess soil to be reused locally and properly by clarifying rules for managing and transporting excess soil and ensuring healthy soil is not sent to landfills, while penalizing those who dump soil illegally. We are also strengthening our enforcement tools by enabling penalties that will effectively remove the economic benefits of breaking environmental laws, such as illegal dumping and modernizing the process to seize vehicle plates to hold polluters accountable.

"Excess soil is a growing concern for communities, developers and our environment," said Rod Phillips, Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks. "When improperly managed, excess soil can negatively affect ground water quality, farmland and other sensitive areas. Lack of clarity around the rules has also resulted in sending healthy soil to landfills. Our proposed changes will help ensure better environmental protection and ensure those who don't follow the rules are held responsible."

The proposed changes posted on the Environmental Registry include:

  • Clarifying rules associated with the reuse and management of excess soil to help ensure environmental protection and limit the amount of soil being sent to landfills. This would also reduce soil management costs for industry.
  • Removing unnecessary barriers to redevelop and revitalize vacant lands and put them back to good use, while maintaining human health and environmental protection.
  • Strengthening compliance and enforcement measures against polluters by imposing administrative penalties and modernizing the process to seize vehicle plates for environmental infractions.

Our commitment to managing excess soil is part of the government's Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan to protect our air, land and water, prevent and reduce litter and waste, support Ontarians to continue to do their share to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and help communities and families increase their resilience to climate change.

Quick Facts

  • In their 2016 Waste Management Industry Survey, Statistics Canada estimated that almost two million tonnes of soil go to Ontario landfills as waste, some of which are reusable.
  • Trucking excess soils 60-100km to landfills and other locations, rather than greater reuse onsite and locally, creates significant costs and greenhouse gas concerns.
  • Managing excess soils represents an estimated 14 per cent of overall construction costs, with trucking and tipping fees being a large part of that cost.
  • An industry study has reported that projects that use excess soil management best practices for local soil reuse have reported an average cost savings of nine per cent.
  • Municipalities have indicated significant cost savings for reuse of excess soils locally, with some project savings ranging from $800,000 to more than $1,000,000.
  • Each year, a number of incidents of illegal dumping in Ontario are reported to the ministry and relate to various materials (e.g. soil, oils & greases, sewage).
  • Ontario will also introduce a new regulation under the Environmental Protection Act that enables prescribed persons, such as developers, to make alternations to sanitary collection and stormwater systems, as long as specific conditions are met.

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