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Ministry of the Environment releases proposed Excess Soil Management Policy Framework

(Queen’s Park) – The Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change is consulting on a new policy framework to ensure that fill being dumped in rural Ontario is safe.

The problem of compromised soil has been a big issue in Wellington-Halton Hills and other Ridings close to the GTA in recent years. Wellington-Halton Hills MPP Ted Arnott has been raising the need for a new comprehensive province-wide policy to address the problem for four years, working with local government leaders.

Ted Arnott MPP
Ted Arnott, MPP

Mr. Arnott first wrote to the Minister of the Environment in February 2012, asking him to establish an Interministerial Committee to develop solutions for the effective regulation of the dumping of fill.

The proposed Excess Soil Management Policy Framework is the result of a review that was launched by the Ministry of the Environment in January 2014 in response to an Application for Review which Mr. Arnott submitted to Ontario’s Environmental Commissioner. In his submission, Mr. Arnott called on the Government to conduct a comprehensive review of the Province’s policies related to the handling of the disposal of fill and compromised soil.

The news appears to be a positive step forward, but Mr. Arnott questioned why it has taken the Government so long to respond.

“The proposed Policy Framework is clearly an acknowledgement by the Government that the current system isn’t good enough,” Mr. Arnott said. “I’m glad they’ve finally gotten back to us in a comprehensive manner, but it shouldn’t have taken them four years to reach that conclusion.”

Mr. Arnott has pointed out that there is currently no province-wide policy regulating the disposal of fill. Individual municipalities are responsible for providing oversight and there is no process in place to ensure that compromised soil is being disposed of safely, he says.

“Given the volume of fill that is being trucked out of the city and dumped in rural Ontario, we have a responsibility to ensure that this fill is safe and that the health of local residents and the safety of our water supply isn’t being put at risk,” Mr. Arnott argued.

Among the areas for improvement identified by the proposed Excess Soil Management Policy Framework are the need for greater responsibility by owners of the source sites that generate excess soil to ensure that the soil reaches appropriate receiving sites, better oversight of receiving sites, protection of sensitive areas of provincial and local interest, and encouraging better planning for the reuse of soil.

“The proposed Policy Framework appears to be a comprehensive response to the problem,” Mr. Arnott concluded. “I hope this report is taken seriously, and doesn’t just gather dust on a shelf.”

The proposed Excess Soil Management Policy Framework has been posted on the Environmental Registry for 60 days of public consultation. Interested people have until March 26 to offer comments. It can be found the Environmental Registry website at https://www.ebr.gov.on.ca under the Registry Number: 012-6065.

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