According to a new study released today by the Residential and Civil Construction Alliance of Ontario (RCCAO), millions of cubic metres of soil will have to be trucked from construction projects to disposal sites in Ontario over the next decade or two.
The construction of the first phase of the Metrolinx Eglinton Crosstown LRT project alone, for example, will generate some 1,500,000 cubic metres of excavated soil. The study estimates that it could cost $100 million or more to transport and dispose of these soils depending on the future availability of sites. Another project, the City of Toronto’s own water and sewer capital program, will produce more than 800,000 cubic metres between now and the end of the decade.
The question of where to put this extracted soil needs to be addressed, according to the RCCAO. Some municipalities are now restricting or banning the importation of soils from outside their jurisdictions because of uncertainties in applying the Ontario Ministry of the Environment’s regulations governing soil quality and placement. Municipalities and private companies are choosing to discontinue accepting soils due to bylaw restrictions or other regulatory liability concerns.
“Construction firms are paying millions of dollars each year to move relatively clean soil from construction sites to remote placement sites. Of course, these ever-increasing costs get reflected in contractors’ prices to owners, which are then passed on to taxpayers/consumers,” notes the study which was prepared by consultant and environmental lawyer Frank Zechner.
Zechner says these unnecessary and added costs represent “a significant erosion of taxpayers’ dollars that would otherwise be available for badly-needed infrastructure improvements.”
Andy Manahan, RCCAO executive director, says the RCCAO has established a committee to develop industry-specific best practices for managing excavated soil.
“We hope we can work with the government in developing clear, consistent, pragmatic rules for managing excavated soils in Ontario,” says Manahan. “This represents a significant opportunity to reduce construction costs and stretch public infrastructure dollars.”
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