Ontario’s Excess Soil Registry rates jump significantly despite attempt to ‘soften’ 

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Excess Soil Regulation
Some of the fees will jump significantly for 2024. For the largest generators of excess soils, fees are going up by 400%, jumping from $30,000 to $150,000. Photo Credit: Siggy Nowak, Pixabay

Higher Excess Soil Registry fees for users will be spread out over five years instead of three, following feedback from a consultation period, says Ontario’s Resource Productivity and Recovery Authority (RPRA). But users might be taken aback by some of the increases.  

The registry fees cover RPRA’s costs for building, maintaining, and operating the Excess Soil Registry, as well as providing support to registry users. The new fees will come into effect on April 1, 2024, after being finalized earlier this month.  

Some of the fees will jump significantly for 2024. For the largest generators of excess soils (volumes greater than 500,000 m3 ) fees are going up by 400%, jumping from $30,000 to $150,000. 

Also, projects that generated less than 2,000 m3 of excess soil did not have to pay registry fees last year. In 2024, however, those same projects will face a flat fee of $90. 

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“The increase in 2024 fees for the Excess Soil Registry is required because substantially fewer filings and less soil volumes are being registered than RPRA had anticipated when the registry was built,” according to the RPRA’s consultation report.

The large fee increases will also impact owners of soil reuse sites. Fees to register for the largest of receivers (over 5,000,000 m3 ) are going up 250% from the current $12,000 to $42,000. 

RPRA added that its 2024 program operating budget has been “reduced substantially” in response to the lower activity, although fee rates still need to increase both to ensure full recovery of the reduced annual operational budget, and to recover program deficits that have accumulated from 2021 through 2023, in part because of the low volumes.  

Total operational deficits for RPRA at the end of 2023, not including registry capital costs, were estimated to be approximately $3.3 million. RPRA notes in the consultation document that it has “no other means of recovering its costs than through fees to registrants” and it does not receive any government or third-party funding. 

RPRA explained that the discrepancy between earlier estimates for filings and current anticipated volumes is likely due to regulatory changes that exempted additional projects and, “potentially, to slow uptake of the program by registrants in its first two years”, according to the consultation report. 

Throughout the consultation period, RPRA hosted a webinar to walk through the original proposal, answer questions, and gain feedback from registrants and other interested stakeholders.  

Feedback during the RPRA consultation period suggested that the rate increases were too high, particularly given that 2024 project budgets were already approved, and that no new services were being provided to registry users.  

As a result, RPRA said it would “soften” the fee increase year-over-year and expand the time period to cover its deficit to five years instead of three. 

Proponents of projects that generate excess soil that needs to be moved off-site are required to register their project, report on the quantity and quality of soil generated and moved, and pay a fee.  

The registry’s overall tiered fee structure remains unchanged.  

For more information on the final fees, view the 2024 Excess Soil Registry Fee Schedule. 

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Related Professional Development Course 

Attend “Ontario’s Excess Soils Regulation and Contaminated Sites 2024” on April 24th at the CANECT 2024 Environmental Compliance and Due Diligence Training Event in Vaughan, Ontario.  

This popular one-day compliance “clinic” provides an essential update to enable consultants, governments, proponents, developers, municipalities, and environmental professionals to successfully navigate practical issues arising from Ontario’s new rules for excess soil, as well as emerging contaminants, contaminated sites, risk assessment and liability. Visit www.canect.net for more information.

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