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Study reveals most municipal soil bylaws do not reference provincial criteria

March 25, 2013

A review of 135 municipalities in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) shows that only a  small percentage have soil quality regulations that reference the Province’s criteria  for soil quality. Inconsistencies between provincial and municipal regulatory  frameworks contribute to the difficulty that contractors and developers experience to obtain or dispose of excess construction soil. RCCAO Municipal Soil Survey Report 2013In 2011, Hatch Mott MacDonald (HMM) conducted a review of 33 municipalities in  the GTA and found that 23 had a relevant by-law that mentions soil quality. In the fall of  2012, a scan of Municipal Fill By-laws was initiated focusing on municipalities, regions  and counties either in the outer ring of the GTA or beyond the GTA. The objective of  the review was to seek out relevant by-laws addressing the deposit of clean excess soil. Previously reviewed municipalities were also revisited to review any amendments.  The results of our follow-up review of municipalities and inquiry concluded that 70  out of 143 upper and lower tier municipalities reviewed have a fill by-law. Only eight  municipalities, however, made  eference to the Ontario Ministry of Environment’s  (MOE’s) soil quality criteria tables (O.Reg. 153/04). Eight municipalities define contamination based upon concentrations greater than naturally occurring on the receiving property. Our findings also suggest that, while the municipalities located nearest to the Toronto  area have developed site alteration by-laws governing the placement of soil, those further  away from the immediate GTA appear to be slower to adopt a fill by-law as fill disposal  has not posed a significant issue thus far. Based on these findings, recommendations include continuing to work toward a  consistent approach for soil management in municipal by-law and procurement practices  through the provincial-municipal-industry working group. In consultation with the  working group, the Province should pick a key municipality and put resources in place  to develop and pilot test site alteration by-laws with appropriate regulatory references  to O.Reg. 153/04 that also adopts the principles of the forthcoming MOE Soil Best  Management Practices (BMP) approach. Ongoing formal education and capacity building to assist municipalities with the  development, monitoring, and dissemination of experiences with soil management in municipal by-laws and procurement practices is also crucial. The Province should  provide guidance to municipalities through the Planning Act or the Provincial Policy  Statement to include comprehensive soil management planning as a requirement for site development applications. The Ministry should also begin to track incorporation of soil BMPs into municipal  bylaws. This would facilitate measurement of progress and provide an overview of the status of the best practices that have been employed. CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD A COPY OF THE FULL REPORT

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