Ontario Taking Action to Hold Contaminators Accountable

Published on May 01, 2019

MPP Skelly says concerns from Flamborough residents prompted changes

Hamilton - Ontario’s government is taking real action to properly manage excess and contaminated soil while strengthening enforcement against illegal soil dumping. These proposed changes are a result of concerns raised by residents regarding the dumping of excess soil at Waterdown Gardens in Flamborough.

“Since my election, I have been working with residents and Ministry staff to address concerns of alleged illegal dumping at Waterdown Gardens,” said Flamborough-Glanbrook MPP Donna Skelly. “The proposed changes will not only prevent illegal dumping in Flamborough, but also illegal dumping in other rural areas across the province.”

Ontario is proposing changes that will reduce the risk of contaminated soil being mismanaged and will allow for the redevelopment of historically contaminated sites, putting vacant lands back to use.

“These changes will make it safer and easier for more excess soil to be reused locally by clarifying rules associated with managing and transporting excess soil and limiting the amount of soil being sent to landfills, while penalizing those who dump soil illegally,” said Skelly. “Strengthening our enforcement tools will allow administrative penalties to be issued for environmental violations, holding polluters accountable.”

Local farmer Jim Whelan, who lives across the street from Waterdown Gardens, applauds these changes. “We have been living a nightmare for several years, not knowing what was being dumped in our own backyard. I am glad to see a government that is listening to us and is finally taking action,” said Mr. Whelan.

The proposed changes include:

  • Requiring developers, haulers and excess soil recipients to register the quality, quantity and destination of the soil.
  • Clarifying rules associated with the reuse and management of excess soil to help ensure environmental protection and limit the amount of soil being sent to landfills. This would also reduce soil management costs for industry.
  • Removing unnecessary barriers to redevelop and revitalize historically contaminated lands, putting them back to good use while maintaining human health and environmental protections.
  • Strengthening compliance and enforcement measures against polluters by imposing penalties and modernizing the process to seize vehicle plates for environmental infractions. This includes the doubling of fines up to $200,000 for each incident (or higher if economic benefit achieved due to the violation was higher) under the Environmental Protection Act.

Our commitment to managing excess and contaminated soil is part of the government’s Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan to protect our air, land and water, prevent and reduce litter and waste, support Ontarians to continue to do their share to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and help communities and families increase their resilience to climate change.

“Excess soil is a growing concern for communities, developers and our environment,” said Rod Phillips, Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks. “When improperly managed, excess soil can negatively affect ground water quality, farmland and other sensitive areas. Our proposed changes will help ensure better environmental protection and ensure those who don’t follow the rules are held responsible.”


  • In their 2016 Waste Management Industry Survey, Statistics Canada estimated that almost two million tonnes of soil go to Ontario landfills as waste, some of which are reusable.
  • An industry study has reported that projects that use excess soil management best practices for local soil reuse have reported an average cost savings of nine per cent.
  • Municipalities have indicated significant cost savings for reuse of excess soils locally, with some project savings ranging from $800,000 to more than $1,000,000.
  • Each year, a number of incidents of illegal dumping in Ontario are reported to the ministry and relate to various materials (e.g. contaminated soil, oils & greases, sewage).
  • Ontario will also introduce a new regulation under the Environmental Protection Act that enables prescribed persons, such as developers, to make alterations to sanitary collection and storm water systems, as long as specific conditions are met.