BC Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy
are proposing to change the regime for soil relocation in British Columbia

The BC Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy (BC ENV) are proposing to change the regime for soil relocation in British Columbia as part of the upcoming Stage 14 Amendments to the Contaminated Sites Regulation (CSR).  The proposed changes are outlined in the BC ENV Regulating Soil Relocation Final Direction Policy Paper released last month. The BC ENV currently anticipates the new rules will come into effect November 1, 2022.

So, what does this mean for you and your upcoming project? Read further below about these proposed changes and its implications.


The proposed changes include discontinuing the Contaminated Soil Relocation Agreement (CSRA) and replacing it with a Soil Relocation Notification Form (SRNF) to be submitted to BC ENV. Existing CSRAs or those submitted to BC ENV prior to the date the new rules come into effect will be grandfathered.

The SRNF will include the following information:

  • the site from which the soil will be removed;
  • the site or sites at which the soil will be deposited;
  • the maximum amount of soil that will be deposited at each site;
  • a summary, prepared in accordance with the regulations, of the analysis; and
  • any other information prescribed in the regulation.

Soil Movement | The soil movement will be listed on the Site Registry.  An SNRF will be required for movement of soils greater than 30 m3 that originate from a commercial or industrial site with a Schedule 2 use. There is no volume exemption if the source site is a high-risk site. This includes Sites that have a Determination that the Site is not contaminated or sites that have been remediated and have a Certificate of Compliance (CoC). The SNRF will be required for all soils moved in the province including those to federal indigenous reserve lands but not to other federal lands (i.e. ports, military facilities, etc.). All soils being relocated that require a SRNF must be adequately characterized prior to movement.  Characterization requirements will vary depending on the suspect soil quality.

Regulatory Tools | Soil that exceeds the applicable land use standards of the receiving site will now be regulated under other BC ENV requirements. These regulatory tools include: requiring an authorization under Part 2 of the Environmental Management Act and the Waste Discharge Regulation; stipulation of independent remediation requirements; and issuance of CoC and Approval in Principle.

SRNF Submission & Notification | The SRNF must be submitted to BC ENV at least 1 week prior to soil relocation. Municipalities or local First Nations will be able to access a BC ENV database or receive automatic notifications from BC ENV when a form is submitted. It should be noted that local municipal or First Nations reserve laws must be observed when relocating soil within those jurisdictions.

Vapour Investigation | Vapour investigation is required for industrial and commercial sites and soils must meet CSR Schedule 3.3 vapour standards for the receiving site.  Soils from land uses of parklands, residential, agricultural and wildlands are exempt from vapour unless chlorinated solvents are a Potential Contaminant of Concern.

Exemptions from SRNF | Soils from source sites with no Schedule 2 use are exempt. Also, soils moved to locations outside the province or to permitted landfills will be exempt from the SRNF requirements.

Exemptions exist for preload sand, road salt sand mixtures, and soil relocated to infrastructure projects – such as roads and pipelines, or aggregate material from a commercial quarry that is crushed and/or screened as a commercial product. Preload is exempt if it originates from a site with no Schedule 2 use.  Preload can be moved from site to site and still be exempt even if one of the preloaded sites it was moved from had a Schedule 2 use.


High Volume Receiving Sites (HVRS) are sites that receive more than 20,000 m3 of soil.

Ministry requirements propose to direct Qualified Professionals (QPs) and Approved Professionals (APs) to develop Soil Management Plans (SMPs) for high volume sites and to use their professional judgement to determine needed protection. SMPs will need to be signed off by APs. Requirements in the CSR are proposed to include the following:

  • A SMP must be prepared and maintained for a high volume site, and the plan must be signed off by an AP;
  • The site must undertake seasonal groundwater monitoring and document monitoring results to ensure that there is no offsite migration;
  • The site must have appropriate containment to ensure the soil cannot cause pollution;
  • Current and complete records must be maintained of the locations where soil comes from on the source sites and where it is deposited on the receiving sites; and
  • SMPs, site soil records and monitoring data of high volume sites – this information must be maintained for review by BC ENV in accordance with compliance auditing provisions.

Lifetime & Monitoring of the Site | The lifetime of a high-volume site is proposed to be the period during which the deposited soil has the potential to produce contamination. It starts on the date the site receives soil deposits (the date that EMA and CSR amendments come into force) and has no defined end date. Monitoring of a high-volume site is required to continue until determined by an AP that it is justifiable to stop. They need to include documentation that applicable regulatory requirements have been met, including substance stability, and that the site has stopped accepting soil. 

Exemptions from HVRS | Public highways and roads, infrastructure and utilities projects are exempt from HVRS rules.  If the source soils are from land uses of urban park, residential, agricultural and wildlands, then they are also exempt from HVRS rules. If prior to the new soil relocation regime coming into effect a site has a pre-existing volume of relocated soil greater than 20,000 m3 then that site is exempt from HVRS rules.  However, if it has received less than 20,000 m3 the HVRS rules will be applied to the total volume of relocated soil.

Location of Sites | HVRS must be located a minimum distance away from aquatic receptors, as specified in the Riparian Areas Protection Regulation and other applicable regulations. There is no separation between adjacent HVRS. 


BC ENV Policy Direction | BC ENV’s Technical Guidance #1, Site Characterization and Confirmation Testing (TG1), will be updated with additional explicit guidance for the purpose of relocating uncontaminated soil. The relevant sampling requirements will be included in TG1 in a stand-alone section specific to soil relocation. They will not apply to general site characterization.

Technical Guidance | The following sampling frequency is intended for soils inferred to be of wildlands, agricultural, urban park, and residential (low and high density) quality only. 

Stockpile Sampling Location & Frequency | Samples shall be collected at different locations within a stockpile to characterize the depth profile and the lateral and vertical variation. Soil samples are not to be collected from the surface of the stockpile. 

Stockpile sampling frequency is outlined as follows:

 Sampling | The sampling frequencies in the Stage 14 CSR amendments similar to TG1 allows for use of alternative sampling procedures provided that there is a rationale for departing from guidance. 


Fines | Penalties up to $75,000 may be imposed for non-compliance.


Keystone Environmental can support you on your project needs and can help you navigate through these potential changes.  We can recognize issues, evaluate risks, and effectively apply professional judgement to  support you in achieving your project objectives. 

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Information source: Final Policy Direction: Regulating Soil Relocation