Ontario Ministry of the Environment

Management of Excess Soil – A Guide for Best Management Practices


Courtesy of Ontario Ministry of the Environment

Soil is an important resource. The protection and conservation of soil in Ontario is a valuable  component of maintaining the environment for present and future generations. The Ministry of  the Environment (MOE) encourages the beneficial reuse of excess soil in a manner promoting sustainability and the protection of the environment. The best practices described within this document are intended to assist those managing excess soil, particularly when the soil may be affected by contamination, in preventing and mitigating the potential for adverse effects. 

What is “Excess Soil”? 

For the purpose of this document, “excess soil” is soil that has been excavated, mainly during construction activities, that cannot or will not be reused at the site where the soil was excavated and must be moved off site. In some cases, excess soil may be temporarily stored at another location before the excess soil is brought back to be used for a beneficial reuse at the site where the soil was originally excavated.

For the purpose of this document, “soil” is defined as it is Ontario Regulation 153/04 (Records of Site Condition – Part XV.1 of the Act): unconsolidated naturally occurring mineral particles and other naturally occurring material resulting from the natural breakdown of rock or organic matter by physical, chemical or biological processes that are smaller than 2 millimetres in size or that pass the US #10 sieve. 

This document does not apply to materials outside the scope of the above definitions, such as compost, engineered fill products, asphalt, concrete, re-used or recycled aggregate product and/or mine tailings, other products, including soil mixed with debris such as garbage, shingles, painted wood, ashes, or other refuse. 

Management of Excess Soil 

Excess soil must be managed in a sustainable manner in order to maintain a healthy economy while protecting the environment. Both the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, under the Places to Grow Act, 2005, and the Provincial Policy Statement under the Planning Act encourage important policy objectives, such as new or renewed infrastructure, intensification of urban areas, and the redevelopment of brownfield sites. These activities often result in the need to manage large quantities of excess soil. Soil conservation and management should be integrated into all aspects of the planning and development process, from the initial concept, through permitting, construction, transportation and reuse of excess soil. 

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