If you’re relocating non-waste soil, you must do so according to:
Soil relocation requirements are intended to:
- Increase soil reuse
- Reduce non-waste soil disposal at landfills
- Enable the ministry to keep track of soil relocation in B.C.
On this page
- Non-waste soil
- Soil and vapour at source sites
- Notification requirements
- Receiving sites
- Soil Management Plans (SMP)
- Soil Relocation Information System (SRIS)
- Noncompliance penalties
- Relocation of waste soil
Non-waste soil, for the purpose of soil relocation, is from a source site with a current or former CSR Schedule 2 use, and which satisfies criteria for both soil and vapour:
Substances in soil meet one of the following:
- CSR Schedule 3.1 land use standards for the receiving site
- The standards derived under Protocol 2 (PDF, 550KB) for the receiving site, or
- The background concentrations established under Protocol 4: Establishing Local Background Concentrations in Soil (Revised) (PDF, 967KB) for the receiving site
Substances in vapour meet the following:
- CSR Schedule 3.3 land use standards for the receiving site
Soil and vapour must be assessed by, or under the supervision of, a Qualified Professional (QP) to determine the soil's quality. Assessments must be conducted in accordance with Protocol 19: Site Investigation Protocol (PDF, 320KB)
QPs should reference Technical Guidance 4: Vapour Investigation and Remediation (PDF, 358KB) when determining the soil quality classification.
Vertical attenuation factors and attenuation adjustment divisors specified in Protocol 22 cannot be used to interpret results.
The vapour does not need to be analyzed if both criteria are satisfied:
- The soil does not contain detectable concentrations of volatile chlorinated substances listed in Schedule 3.1 of the CSR, and
- Substances in soil meet the low density residential land use standards listed in Schedule 3.1 of the CSR
A person must engage a QP to complete the soil relocation notification form and submit it to the ministry.
A person who relocates non-waste soil is subject to the notification requirements if the following apply:
- The volume of soil is equal to or greater than 30 cubic metres per project within a 2-year period
- Sites classified as high risk under Protocol 12: Site Risk Classification, Reclassification and Reporting (Revised) (PDF, 737KB) must provide notification regardless of the soil volume
- A Schedule 2 use has occurred on the source site, and
- The soil is determined to be non-waste soil in relation to the receiving site
A 'project' includes activities where a single-source site requires many soil relocations to a single receiving site for a period of up to 2 years.
There's no fee to submit a soil relocation notification form:
- Soil Relocation Notification Form (Online)
- Instructions for Completing a Soil Relocation Notification Form (DOCX, 21KB)
A QP must submit a notification form at least one week, but no more than 2 years, before the start date.
The purpose of the one week notification period is to ensure transparency to interested parties regarding soil movement in their area.
A notification form cannot be changed once it has been submitted. However, a QP can submit a new form with the updated information and check the box at the top of the form indicating that it's an update to a previous submission.
This will generate a field where the QP must include the Confirmation Code issued for the original submission.
If the start or end date of soil removal changes and a form has already been submitted, a new form must be submitted with the new dates and the one week period resets.
A QP can specify up to 3 receiving sites on the soil relocation notification form.
The QP must report the maximum volume of soil being relocated to each receiving site. If there is a change to the receiving sites or maximum volumes listed on the form, a new form must be submitted with the updated information and the one week period resets.
Soil relocation is exempt from notification requirements under the following circumstances:
- The volume of soil is less than 30 cubic metres per project within a 2-year period
- This exemption does not apply to sites classified as high risk under Protocol 12
- High risk sites must provide notification regardless of the soil volume
- The receiving site is authorized under the EMA by permit or approval, order, waste management plan or the regulations
- The receiving site is outside of B.C.
- The receiving site is on federal land, other than a reserve within the meaning of the Indian Act (Canada)
- The source site has not been used other than for a low-impact land use or mining of marl, earth, soil, peat, sand, gravel, dimension stone, rock, any natural substance used for a construction purpose on land, and
- The soil was extracted with a permit under the Mines Act and transported directly to the receiving site
- The soil is preload that originated from a site used for a low-impact land use, or
- The soil is winter maintenance sand
Ministry approval is not required for soil relocation.
Concerns raised by interested parties during the one week notification period will not stop a project if the soil relocation laws are being followed.
The reuse of soil reduces the volume being disposed of at landfills.
Examples of how soil can be reused at a receiving site include:
- Backfilling an excavation
- Constructing a berm or stormwater management pond
- Regrading a site for development
A receiving site owner does not have a legal obligation to sample the soil to verify that it's 'non-waste' prior to accepting it. However, an owner can audit the incoming soil at their discretion.
Soil relocation is a one-time transaction.
If soil is accepted at a receiving site and then moved to a second receiving site, the first receiving site becomes the source site if it has a CSR Schedule 2 use and must meet the legislative requirements for source sites.
This also applies to high volume receiving sites.
Starting March 1, 2023, when a receiving site accepts more than 20,000 cubic metres of soil over its lifetime, it's a high volume site.
High volume sites must be registered with the ministry.
Registration must be completed by a QP using the online form:
The owner of a high volume site must have and manage the site according to the SMP until the site is closed.
A SMP must:
- Be developed by a QP
- Be approved by an Approved Professional (AP)
- The signing AP cannot be the same QP who prepared the SMP
- Ensure that the managed soil is appropriately contained so that substances in soil do not migrate off-site
- Set out procedures for the tracking of the source sites where the soil originated and the locations at the receiving site where the soil from each source site is deposited
- Set out procedures for seasonal groundwater monitoring
- Be implemented under the supervision of a QP, and
- Include a plan for closure of the high volume site
- The site cannot be closed until it has stopped accepting commercial or industrial quality soil, and
- An AP has provided a written opinion that the substances in the managed soil are stable and monitoring is no longer required
The SMP must be retained by the owner of the high volume site for at least 10 years after the site is closed.
The requirements for high volume sites do not apply in some circumstances, including:
- The site is an authorized waste management facility under Part 2 of the EMA
- The soil is relocated to the high volume site before March 1, 2023
- However, if more soil is brought to the site after this date, it's subject to the high volume site provisions. For example, if a high volume site receives both residential and commercial quality soil, the site will not need to register until the volume of commercial quality soil exceeds 20,000 m3
- The soil and vapour meet the following land use standards in CSR Schedule 3.1 and 3.3:
- Residential high density
- Residential low density
- Urban park
- Wildlands, reverted
- Wildlands, natural
- Relocation of soil for use in construction or maintenance, including:
- Transit systems
- Sewage collection systems
- Underground drainage collection systems
- Water distribution systems
- Electricity transmission or distribution systems
- Telecommunications lines or towers
- Right of ways required for infrastructure described in items above
- Dikes, green shores or other structures constructed to prevent flooding or erosion
This exemption does not apply if:
- The soil contains an organic substance with a concentration greater than the CSR Schedule 3.1 standards for low-impact land use
- The high volume site is within 10m of a watercourse or body of water, or within 10m of a ditch, spring or wetland connected to a watercourse or body of water
Sites that met the definition of a high volume site prior to March 1, 2023, will not have to follow the new requirements.
The SRIS is a database that allows Indigenous Nations, local governments and other interested parties to learn about soil relocation activity in B.C.
The SRIS is comprised of:
- A Soil Relocation Sitemap
- A Soil Relocation Dashboard
Interested parties can also subscribe to be notified of soil relocation or high volume receiving site registrations in their area.
This video provides an overview of the new SRIS application.
Learn how to:
- Locate source sites, receiving sites and high volume sites
- Download data
- Subscribe to receive notifications about soil relocation in B.C.
A person who does not properly follow requirements outlined in EMA sections 55 (1.1), 55 (1.3), or 55.1 (2), respectively:
- Is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $200,000, or
- Imprisonment for not more than 6 months, or both
Soil classified as waste may not be relocated to a receiving site without a waste discharge authorization under Part 2 of the EMA.
To learn more, visit Waste discharge authorizations.