Fill and the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan (ORMCP)

The ORMCP and Site-Alteration

The ORMCP does not consider large fill sites as development. Therefore, large fill sites could potentially be approved in areas of the moraine that would otherwise not permit that degree of development, such as in the Natural Core and Natural Linkage areas. (See Sections 11 and 12 of Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan) As well, landform conservation requirements on the moraine (ORMCP Technical Paper 4 – Landform Conservation) may not be given appropriate consideration as large site alterations with no development are not treated the same as large site-alterations with development.

High Aquifer Vulnerability (HAV) areas (See Section 29 of the ORMCP) on the Moraine are in need of protection from large fill operations where underlying aquifers are vulnerable to risky fill activities on land. The Moraine Can’t Wait campaign put dirty dirt on the top of the list of threats to the moraine.  Currently, specific land uses listed in the ORMCP, such as waste sites, are prohibited in HAV areas.  However, considering current definitions of waste and the non-inert nature of much of the fill that is being deposited, it could be argued that Moraine lands are being used as waste stations contrary to HAV Area prohibitions and contrary to the EPA and MOE’s waste regulation, O. REG. 347. (The case for Prohibiting Commercial Fill Operation from an Area of High Aquifer Vulnerability in the ORM)

Large scale commercial fill operations are not considered a “use of land” in the municipal zoning and permitting processes, despite the industrial scale of the noise, traffic and profits and despite the potential of contamination altering the permissible future use of the land.  The provincial Planning Act specifically defines extraction from a pit or quarry as a use of land but is silent on the equally significant but reverse process of a large scale dumping operation.

Action Required:

1.    Consideration for the 2015 MMAH review of the ORMCP :
a)    Large fill projects should be considered as development and slotted as approved or prohibited in the four designated land use areas of the Moraine.

b)    High Aquifer Vulnerability Areas and Significant Groundwater Recharge Areas on the Moraine should be protected from large commercial fill operations and the unacceptable threat they pose to precious groundwater resources.

2.    The Planning Act should be amended to define a commercial fill operation as a “use of land”.