Proposed Amendments to Ontario’s Excess Soil Laws

  • April 19, 2024
  • Matthew Gardner, Partner at Willms & Shier Environmental Lawyers LLP

On October 17, 2023, Ontario’s Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (“MECP”) posted proposed regulatory amendments to Ontario Regulation 406/19 - On-Site and Excess Soil Management (“O. Reg. 406/19”) and the Rules for Soil Management and Excess Soil Quality Standards (“Soil Rules”) on the Environmental Registry of Ontario.

The MECP’s objective in proposing these amendments is “to encourage greater reuse of low-risk excess soils as part of a circular economy and to prevent usable soil from being disposed of in landfill.”[1]

The MECP’s proposed amendments comprise the following potential amendments:

  1. The following new and/or expanded types of class 1 soil management sites and exemptions for such sites from having to obtain an environmental compliance approval (waste):
    1. topsoil and landscaping reuse depots (which may expand the scope of processing/storage opportunities currently available for retail landscaping soil depots)
    2. aggregate reuse depots (new), and
    3. small liquid soil depots (new)
  2. enhanced reuse opportunities for salt-impacted soil
  3. expanded soil management opportunities at class 2 soil management sites, local waste transfer facilities, and residential development soil depots
  4. exemptions/clarifications for hauling records
  5. exemption of landscaping projects at enhanced investigation project areas from notice-filing/planning requirements
  6. clarifications about
    1. responsibilities of qualified persons when dewatering/solidifying liquid soil, and
    2. requirements for sampling and analysis plans relating to:
      1. salt-impacted soil
      2. properties at which records of site condition have been filed
      3. stormwater management ponds, and
      4. tunnelling projects
  7. greater flexibility for storage of soil within 30 metres of a water body, and
  8. miscellaneous clarifications and corrections to O. Reg. 406/19 and the Soil Rules.

The MECP is currently reviewing comments (December 1, 2023 was the deadline to submit comments) and preparing amendments to O. Reg. 406/19 and the Soil Rules.

The MECP anticipates finalizing the amendments to O. Reg. 406/19 and the Soil Rules by late Q1 2024/early Q2 2024.

Stay tuned for our next article to follow when the MECP’s proposed amendments become law later this year!

Any article or other information or content expressed or made available in this Section is that of the respective author(s) and not of the OBA.