Ontario: Proposal to Provide Additional Flexibility for Excess Soil Reuse

As a result of the COVID-19, the Ontario Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) is proposing to extend the grandfathering for infrastructure projects and provide additional flexibility for excess soil reuse.  Under the proposal, amendments to the Excess Soil Regulation (O. Reg. 406/19) and other regulations are to be made so that technical assessments are not repeated, delayed projects can proceed, and soil can be managed more flexibly.

Proposal details

In December 2019, Ontario made a new On-Site and Excess Soil Management Regulation (O. Reg. 406/19), supported by risk-based standards that will make it safer and easier for industry to reuse more excess soil locally.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and to provide further clarity and flexibility to support appropriate beneficial reuse of excess soil, the MECP is now proposing amendments to O. Reg. 406/19 and O. Reg. 153/04 under the Environmental Protection Act. The proposed changes include:

  • extending the date applicable to the grandfathering provisions by which construction projects must be entered into by one year, from January 1, 2021 to January 1, 2022, to accommodate projects that are close to starting construction but delayed due to COVID-19
  • clarifying the scope of grandfathering provisions to include geotechnical studies completed by January 1, 2022, to ensure these studies do not have to be repeated
  • replacing waste-related Environmental Compliance Approvals with standard rules for operations processing excess soil for resale as a garden product, and operations managing clean soils for residential development projects
  • providing added flexibility to soil management rules such as those for soil storage and reuse of soil impacted by salt
  • enabling Environmental Compliance Approvals to specify alternative soil management requirements to provide project-specific flexibility
  • updating O. Reg. 406/19 and the Protocol for Analytical Methods Used in the Assessment of Properties under Part XV.1 of the EPA (Analytical Procedure) with the modified Synthetic Precipitation Leaching Procedure (mSPLP)
  • clarifying that the excess soil registry to be used for filing notices will be delivered by the Resource Productivity and Recovery Authority and expand the registry’s purposes to also include integration with other third-party systems supporting reuse of excess soil, such as tracking systems, soil matching systems and other non-regulatory programs, considering cost, security and other relevant matters.

If the proposed changes are adopted, they would:

  • reduce construction costs associated with managing and transporting excess soil
  • limit the amount of soil being sent to landfill
  • lower greenhouse gas emissions from the sector
  • continue to ensure strong protection of human health and the environment

These proposed amendments support delivery of actions in Ontario’s “Made-In-Ontario” Environment Plan including:

  • recognizing excess soil as a resource
  • developing clear rules to support beneficial reuses of excess soil and to help address issues of illegal dumping

Deadline for Public Comment

The deadline for comments on the proposal is November 19th, 2020.