Fill, Municipalities and By-laws

Strong and comprehensive by-laws are necessary when dealing with large scale commercial fill operations.  A cursory review of over 50 by-laws in and around the GTA revealed either an absence of site-alteration by-laws or the inability of the by-laws to address significant large fill site alteration considerations. (Review of Fill and Site Alteration By-laws – map & summary) The findings parallel those of the RCCAO who completed a similar study in 2013 (Study Commissioned by the RCCAO – Survey of Municipal Soil By-laws, March 2013).

LCCW has given 29 deputations (List of deputations to municipalities by LCCW) emphasizing necessary requirements for incorporation into local by-laws (LCCW Recommendations for Municipal Site Alteration By-laws) as well as conservation authority policies in order to mitigate the risk involved with commercial fill operations (Top 10 Risks of the “Clean Fill” Dump Site – LCCW).

It is important to note that while municipalities should have jurisdiction over site-alterations within their boundaries, soil standards should be determined by the MOE so as to allow a clear and consistent approach with regards to fill management in Ontario. The MOE’s Soil Management: A Guide to Best Practices draft document is a good forum for this guidance, however the MOE’s BMP is lacking in this respect. (LCCW comments to EBR posting of “Soil Management – A Guide for Best Management Practices”)

Action Required:

1.    Municipalities need to amend their site-alteration by-laws in order to incorporate necessary requirements with regards to large-scale fill operations.

2.    The MOE’s Standards Development Branch needs to determine soil quality guidelines for non-Brownfield sites that can be incorporated into municipal by-laws and conservation authority policies to allow for a consistent, scientific approach throughout the province. Direction on soil quality requirements for specific sensitive sites is also required. When considering soil quality requirements, a more detailed and comprehensive Guideline, built on the MOE’s current draft BMP, is necessary.

3.    Coordinating bodies such as the MMAH, Conservation Ontario, and Association of Municipalities Ontario should provide model by-laws to municipalities and conservation authorities to provide a consistent approach.