Landmark Symposium Unearths Large-Scale Fill Issues and Solutions in Ontario

PORT PERRY, Ontario, Jan. 25, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Large amounts of excess soils are being generated from infrastructure and construction projects, particularly in the GTA, and are being moved to other parts of Ontario. This activity, however, is generating a wide range of management issues, with many concerns being raised by local communities. Agricultural lands, abandoned and rehabilitated pits, marginal and other types of lands outside of the Greater Toronto Area are potential sites for large fill.

At a symposium today in Port Perry, over 260 people came together from across the province to discuss the issues, share best management practices and experiences, and determine the next steps forward in enhancing the management of large-scale fill activities. The participants represented diverse stakeholders, who included rural communities, industry, agencies, municipal and provincial governments, and also the science, construction, and law sectors.

Some of the challenges presented through the day included: the quality of soils being deposited at sites and the challenges of monitoring and ensuring it is clean; who has jurisdiction over the sites; the potential for contamination to groundwater resources; and issues with noise, traffic, and dust. Another issue also identified was the range of municipal by-laws dealing with fill, some of which are strong, some weak, and some non-existent, and how the end uses of sites are not always identified before filling.

"People need to know about this industry. A knowledge void creates uncertainty and fear among people, that commercial fill is having a negative effect to their property and well water," said Township of Scugog Mayor Chuck Mercier. "The symposium allowed us to put all of the issues on the table. It offered insight on the issues, and also on the science associated with commercial fill. Our next step is to continue working collectively to find sustainable solutions."

Some of the solutions presented were:

  • Changing the Municipal Act to require a materials management plan as part of the development – and change the Planning Act as required to manage storage and zoning considerations
  • A need for province wide practices, standards, regulation
  • Promoting Best Management Practices documents of the Ministry of the Environment and the Residential and Civil Construction Alliance of Ontario
  • Ensure appropriate soil testing occurs at both the source and fill site
  • Managing the excavation of earth materials on a life-cycle basis.

The Environmental Commissioner of Ontario, Gord Miller, provided a concluding keynote address.

"Those who dig the holes should bear the whole responsibility and the full cost of managing the soil until it is satisfactorily placed in a final use," said Commissioner Miller. "Much of it is the result of the policies of the Ministry of Municipal, Rural Affairs, and Housing and the money of the Ministry of Infrastructure. Fill shouldn't be the problem of the communities and municipalities who receive it. Those who create the material must be responsible, and Queen's Park needs to fix this."

"I was really pleased to see that the attendees, from all over Ontario and from many backgrounds, were able to gain a much greater understanding of the complexity of large-scale fill," said Kawartha Conservation CAO Rob Messervey. "I think everyone is prepared to continue the dialogue, and take next steps forward."

Complete video from the symposium, presentations, and background resources are being posted at

CONTACT: Bev Hendry, Chief Administrative Officer Township of Scugog,, 905-985-7346 ext. 117 Brent Kulba, Kawartha Conservation 705-328-2271 ext. 220Source: Kawartha Conservation