Written by Written by Parthrajsinh Bharatsinh Gohil , Staff Writer

Proper handling of excess soil is crucial to protect the environment, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and support sustainable development. In Ontario alone,  construction activities generate an estimated 25 million cubic meters of soil annually.

This article will discuss recent changes by the Resource Productivity and Recovery Authority related to the fees it charges for registration of excess soil on the excess soil registry. It also provides some options for avoiding fees, and innovative approaches to managing excess soil. The new fees will be imposed beginning April 1, 2024.

Understanding the Fee Landscape and Industry Reaction:

The Resource Productivity and Recovery Authority (RPRA) held a consultation process from late 2023, to gather feedback on proposed fees for the Excess Soil Registry. While there was a warning about potential increases, the final fee hikes came as a surprise to some industry stakeholders. The most significant increases impact large-scale projects:

  • Project Areas (largest excess soil generators) see a 400% jump, from $30,000 to $150,000.
  • Reuse Sites (large receivers of excess soil) face a 350% increase, from $12,000 to $42,000.

Even smaller projects are now subject to a flat fee of $90, which wasn’t the case in 2023. Industry representatives have expressed concerns about the significant fee hikes, arguing that they contradict the goals outlined at the 2023 Excess Soils Symposium, where the focus was on reducing excess soil management costs.

The RPRA’s Excess Soil Registry serves as a central platform for managing excess soil movement. Users are required to file notices on the registry for specific activities, including:

Movement of Excess Soil (Project Area Notice): Proponents of projects generating excess soil must register their project, report soil quantity and quality, and pay a fee.

Operation of a Soil Reuse Site (Reuse Site Notice): Owners of sites approved to accept excess soil for beneficial reuse must register, report anticipated soil quantities, and pay a fee.

Operation of a Residential Development Soil Depot (RDSD): RDSD owners (temporary stockpiles of excess soil up to 10,000 m3) must register and pay a fee.

Project Area Notice fees:

Soil VolumeFee StructureFee Amount (CAD)
100 to 2,000 m3Flat Fee$90  
2,000 to 10,000 m3Variable Fee$0.100/
10,000 to 50,000 m3Variable Fee$0.125/m
50,000 to 100,000 m3Variable Fee$0.240/m
100,000 m3 and aboveFlat Fee$150,000

Reuse Site Notice Fees:

Soil VolumeFee StructureFee Amount (CAD)
10,000 to 50,000 m3  Flat Fee$3,150
50,000 to 1,000,000 m3  Flat Fee$12,600
1,000,000 to 5,000,000 m3  Flat Fee$29,400
5,000,000 m3 and above  Flat Fee$42,000

Residential Development Soil Depot Notices:

  • Soil Volume: Up to 10,000 m3
  • Flat Fee: $1,050

Sustainable Alternatives to Mitigate Fees

As project managers, it’s important to comply with the regulations set by the RPRA. However, there are sustainable practices that can help reduce costs and environmental impact, such as:

1. On-Site Reuse: Whenever possible, reuse excess soil on-site. Proper planning and soil characterization can facilitate safe and beneficial reuse, which in turn minimizes transportation costs and fees.

2. In-Situ Remediation: Consider remediation techniques that treat contaminated soil in place. This approach avoids off-site disposal and associated fees.

3. Collaboration and Soil Matching: Connect with other projects or sites that need soil. Soil matching platforms can help find suitable recipients for excess soil, promoting circular economy principles.

4. Soil Quality Enhancement: Improve soil quality through amendments (e.g., compost, lime) to meet reuse standards. High-quality soil fetches better prices and reduces disposal costs.

5. Community Soil Depots: Establish community soil depots where excess soil can be temporarily stored and shared among local projects. This reduces the need for large-scale stockpiles and associated fees.