Update: Pending Changes To Soil Relocation In BC

Posted: December 6, 2022


The “Stage 14” amendments to the BC Contaminated Sites Regulation (CSR) were approved in June 2022, through Ministerial Order 164/2022 (link). These changes will come into force on March 1, 2023, and include new requirements for the movement of non-contaminated soil in BC.

Soil Relocation – Key Changes

The new requirements will apply only for soil that is relocated from source sites in BC where current or historical commercial / industrial CSR Schedule 2 Activities have been identified 1 . 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 standards 2 (commonly referred to as “RL–” or Residential Quality soil) must be tested in accordance with new forthcoming 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 2,000m3
    Stockpiled Soil
    ≤130m3 3 samples
    130m3 – 2,600m3 1 sample per 130m3
    >2,600m3 1 sample per 200m3

    Examples based on these frequencies 3 are as follows:

    • 100m3 in-situ soil: 3 samples
    • 5,000m3 in-situ soil: 25 samples
    • 50,000m3 of in-situ soil: 122 samples
    • 100m3 stockpiled soil: 3 samples
    • 5,000m3 stockpiled soil: 34 samples
    • 50,000m3 stockpiled soil: 259 samples
  • Soil Vapour Testing – Vapour quality must be assessed when relocating any soil that contains substances exceeding the Residential Low-Density standards, or any soil containing detectible volatile chlorinated solvents (e.g., dry cleaning solvents, degreasers).
  • Public Notifications – A Soil Relocation Notification Form must be submitted online by a Qualified Professional, at least one week prior to any soil relocation. The notifications will be publicly accessible. A copy of the proposed form is included in the Ministerial Order (link).
  • First Nations Reserve Lands – The requirements 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.

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

  • Relocation of less than 30m 3 of soil from a source site, in total over a 2-year period 4 .
  • Relocation of soil that exceeds CSR Industrial standards (commonly referred to as “IL+” or “Waste” soil). Such soil is typically disposed of to an authorized contaminated soil receiving facility.
  • Preload materials that originated from a site with no Schedule 2 Activities, quarried materials relocated directly from the source quarry/pit in accordance with a Mines Act permit, and winter maintenance sand.
  • Relocation to receiver sites located outside the province.

Clean Fill Receiver Sites – Key Changes

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 Sites5 . The following additional requirements are proposed for High-Volume Receiver Sites:

  • Soil Management & Closure Plan – Prepared and implemented by a Qualified Professional.
  • Seasonal Groundwater Monitoring – To monitor for off-site contaminant migration.
  • Appropriate Containment – To mitigate the risk of impacts to the environment.
  • Registration & Record Keeping – Including source site details, deposit location, etc.

Infrastructure projects6 are exempt from being designated as High-Volume Receiver Sites under
certain circumstances.

Cost and Schedule Implications

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

  • 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 costs and schedule, for soil to be relocated off-site.
    • Potential soil vapour testing, depending on the soil quality.
    • One week notification period before relocation can begin.
  • For designated High-Volume Receiver Sites:
    • Costs to develop and implement a Soil Management Plan, groundwater monitoring, potential containment system design and construction, and increased record keeping efforts.

We’re here To Help

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 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 This exemption does not apply to sites classified as high risk in accordance with a Directors Protocol.

5 Volume as measured over the lifetime of the fill receiver site, excluding soil relocated prior to November 1, 2022.

6 Highways, transit systems, pipelines, dikes / green shores, sewage/water/drainage systems, electrical transmission/distribution systems, telecom lines or towers, etc.