Proposed Regulatory Changes: Soil Relocation

Posted: February 11, 2022


The BC Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy (ENV) is proposing significant new requirements for the movement of non-contaminated soil in BC, through amendments to the Contaminated Sites Regulation (CSR). Details are provided in a Final Policy Direction paper (link). We understand that the amendments may come into force as early as November 2022.


The new requirements will apply only when soil is relocated from source sites in BC where current or historical commercial / industrial CSR Schedule 2 Activities have been identified1. These requirements will apply to any soil that will be relocated from anywhere at the source site, regardless of proximity to the Schedule 2 Activity, and regardless of whether soil in the vicinity of the Schedule 2 Activity has been assessed and/or remediated. The key changes include:

  • Soil Testing – Soil suspected to exceed the CSR Residential High Density standards but to be within the CSR Commercial and Industrial standards (commonly referred to as “RL+” or Commercial/Industrial Quality soil) must be tested in accordance with existing ENV Technical Guidance 1 (link). Soil suspected to be within the CSR Residential High Density standards2 (commonly referred to as “RL–” or Residential Quality soil) must be tested in accordance with new ENV Technical Guidance. The proposed frequencies for suspected Residential Quality soil are as follows:
    In-Situ Soil
    ≤600m3 3 samples
    600m3 – 10,000m3 1 sample per 200m3
    10,000m3 – 40,000m3 1 sample per 450m3
    >40,000m3 1 sample per 2,00m3
    Stockpiled Soil
    ≤130m3 3 samples
    130m3 – 2,600m3 1 sample per 130m3
    >2,600m3 1 sample per 200m3

    Examples based on these frequencies3 are as follows:

    • 100m3 of in-situ soil: 3 samples required
    • 100m3 of stockpiled soil: 3 samples required
    • 5,000m3 of in-situ soil: 25 samples required
    • 5,000m3 of stockpiled soil: 34 samples required
    • 50,000m3 of in-situ soil: 122 samples required
  • Soil Vapour Testing – Vapour quality must be assessed when relocating any Commercial/ Industrial Quality soil, or any Residential Quality soil containing chlorinated solvents (e.g., dry cleaning solvents, degreasers).
  • Public Notifications – A notification form must be submitted online, one week prior to any soil relocation. The source and receiver site details and soil testing results must be provided. The notifications will be publicly accessible. Notifications for relocation of more than 20,000m3 may require additional information.
  • First Nations Reserve Lands – The proposed changes will apply to soil that is relocated to Reserve lands, which were previously exempt from provincial soil relocation regulations.
  • Contaminated Soil Relocation Agreements – CSRAs will no longer be available.
  • Fines – Fines up to $75,000 may be imposed for non-compliance.

Exemptions are proposed. The new requirements would not apply in the following scenarios:

  • Relocation of less than 30m3 of soil from a source site, in total over a 2-year period.
  • Relocation of soil that exceeds CSR Industrial standards (commonly referred to as “IL+” or “Waste” soil). Such soil is typically disposal to an authorized contaminated soil facility.
  • Preload materials that originated from a site with no Schedule 2 Activities, quarried materials relocated directly from the source quarry/pit, and winter road sand materials.
  • Relocation to receiver sites located outside the province.


Clean fill receiver sites that accept more than 20,000m3 of Commercial/Industrial Quality soil from source sites with Schedule 2 Activities will be designated as High-Volume Receiving Sites4. The following additional requirements are proposed for High-Volume Receiver Sites:

  • Soil Management Plan – To be signed-off by an Approved Professional (AP).
  • Seasonal Groundwater Monitoring – To ensure that no off-site migration is occurring.
  • Appropriate Containment – To mitigate the risk of impacts to the environment.
  • Record Keeping – Including source site details, deposit locations at the receiver site, etc.

These efforts must continue until import ceases and an AP determines that monitoring may stop.

Infrastructure projects5 are exempt from being designated as High-Volume Receiver Sites.


Parties involved in soil relocation should be prepared for the following cost and schedule impacts:

  • For all soil source sites:
    • Costs and delays to evaluate the presence of current and/or historical Schedule 2 Activities prior to relocating soil, if not already known and documented.
  • For soil source sites with current and/or historical Schedule 2 Activities:
    • Increased soil testing for any soil to be relocated off-site.
    • Potential soil vapour testing, depending on the quality of soil to be relocated.
    • One week notification period before relocation can begin.
  • For designated High-Volume Receiver Sites:
    • Costs for development of a Soil Management Plan, installation of groundwater monitoring wells, seasonal groundwater monitoring, potential containment system design and construction, and increased record keeping efforts.


Active Earth in an industry leader in soil characterization and disposal planning, contaminated sites assessment, environmental permitting, and remediation management. We are experts in assessing soil quality for relocation to clean fill receiver sites, for disposal to permitted contaminated soil landfills, and for disposal at sea through the federal approval process.
We posses strong relationships with various excavation and construction contractors in BC, as well as with many clean fill receiver site operators and contaminated soil landfill operators. We look forward to navigating you through these new requirements quickly and cost-effectively.


1 Assessment by a Qualified Environmental Professional will likely be required to determine the presence/absence of Schedule 2 Activities. The list of CSR Schedule 2 Activities is available here.

2 Includes soil that is within Wildlands (natural or reverted), Agricultural, Urban Park, and/or Residential (land and high density) standards.

3 These testing frequencies are cumulative. For example: 5,000m3 of in-situ soil requires 3 samples for the first 600m3, plus 1 sample per 200m3 for the remaining 4,400m3, for a total of 25 samples.

4 Volume as measured over the lifetime of the fill receiver site, beginning from the date that the proposed amendments come into force.

5 Highways, railways, pipelines, dikes, sewage/water systems, electrical distribution systems, telecom facilities, etc.