Proposed Regulatory Changes: Soil Relocation In BC

Posted: February 12, 2021


The BC Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy (ENV) is proposing significant “Stage 14 Amendments” to the Contaminated Sites Regulation (CSR), as detailed in their January 2021 Intentions Paper (link). The proposed changes would impose new requirements around the movement of non-contaminated soil within BC.
Interested parties are asked to complete and submit a comment form (link) to ENV by March 15, 2021.


The most significant proposed changes will apply to scenarios where at least 10m3 of soil will be relocated from a property where a current or historical prescribed commercial / industrial CSR Schedule 2 Activity has been identified1. In these cases, the following requirements are proposed:

  • Mandatory Soil Testing – The soil will need to be characterized through sampling and laboratory analysis, in accordance with ENV Technical Guidance 1 (link).
  • Mandatory Notifications – An online Soil Relocation Notification and Certification Form will need to be submitted. Affected municipal governments and Indigenous Nations will be notified and provided with a two-week review and comment period.
  • Review and Comment Period – Notified parties will be granted a two-week period to review and comment on the planned soil relocation. It is currently unclear whether notified parties will have a mechanism to challenge or request changes to the soil relocation activity.
  • Potential Soil Vapour Investigation – An assessment of soil vapour quality may be required when the soil will be placed within 30 m of a current or future building, or when chlorinated solvents are present.
  • Federal Reserve Lands – The proposed changes will apply to uncontaminated soil that is relocated to these lands, which were previously exempt from Provincial regulation.
  • Contaminated Soil Relocation Agreements – This approach would not longer be available for relocating contaminated soil.
  • Fines – Fines up to $75,000 may be imposed for non-compliance.

Significant changes are also proposed that will impact the management and oversight of High- Volume Receiving Sites, which are defined as sites where greater than 20,000 m3 of soil will be deposited over its lifetime. The following requirements are proposed:

  • Consultation – Public Consultation and Consultation with Indigenous Nations.
  • Soil Management Plan (SMP) – To be prepared by an Approved Professional.
  • Siting Requirements – High-Volume Receiver Sites must not be located in close proximity to one another, or to water bodies, water wells, and current / future buildings.

It is currently unclear whether ENV intends for these requirements to apply only to those High- Volume Receiving Sites receiving soil from commercial/industrial properties with Schedule 2 Activities. It is also unclear whether these requirements will apply to structural fill (e.g., for road construction) or to fill imported to meet floodplain construction requirements.


We anticipate the following approximate cost and schedule impacts:

  • Stockpiled soil (minimum 10m3) to be removed unexpectedly – additional costs of $2,500 to $5,000 and a delay of 3 to 4 weeks.
  • Larger volume soil relocation projects (e.g. bulk excavations) – additional costs could range from $25,000 to $50,000 (or more depending on the volume), and delays of 6 to 8 weeks (or longer) to complete the requisite investigations and notifications.

As currently proposed, these regulatory changes are likely to result in the unnecessary diversion of soil to licensed landfills in instances where the cost of delay will outweigh the cost of disposal.


Active Earth’s team of experts specializes in soil characterization and management, contaminated sites assessment and remediation, environmental permitting, physical hydrogeology, and geotechnical engineering. We look forward to navigating you through these new requirements quickly and cost-effectively. Please don’t hesitate to contact us!

1 Changes to CSR Schedule 2 took effect on February 1, 2021 (link). A Stage 1 Preliminary Site Investigation will likely be needed to document the presence/absence of Schedule 2 Activities. Proposed exemptions include soil relocated outside of the Province, and relocation of preload that originated from a site with no Schedule 2 Activity.