November 13, 2013

Minister won’t commit to regulate fill dumping

As published in The Erin Advocate

A call for improved regulation of the disposal of fill in rural areas has been given the brush-off by Environment Minister Jim Bradley.

The issue has been high-profile in Erin recently, with MPP Ted Arnott writing to the minister on behalf of local residents, renewing his request for an Interministerial Committee to establish provincial policy and regulations.

“I understand that the Ministry has recently established best management practices for soil management [fill], but would question how these are being enforced and if there is any enforcement at all,” said Arnott in his letter.

Bradley replied that the soil guide was still being finalized “with consideration to all the comments we have received”, and that it will provide “essential guidance” for the Town and Conservation Authorities, which can issue permits for fill. He did not respond to the enforcement question.

“As we move forward, we will evaluate if future actions are needed,” he said, noting that the ministry “encourages the reuse of excess soil for beneficial uses as long as it can be done in a way that is protective of human health and the environment.”

The Town of Erin is in the process of reviewing both its fill bylaw and a proposed guide that would help residents report suspected problems.

The Citizens Against Fill Dumping group is continuing to attend council meetings, and has come out with a brochure to make people aware of their concerns about the impact on the environment, residents’ quality of life and their property values. They also have a web site:

“The GTA continues to grow exponentially and with that growth comes an increasing demand for places to dump its unwanted excavated material,” the website says.

“The primary concern is that some of this fill could be contaminated. The current bylaws governing Wellington County and Erin are simply inadequate to deal with this issue. They are neither stringent enough to protect the best interests of the Town of Erin and Wellington County residents nor are they rigorously enforced to ensure accountability and transparency.

“We want to convince Town of Erin Council and Wellington County Council to eliminate importation of fill. We want the Provincial government to regulate the Fill industry in Ontario.”