Unloading in the evening

Unloading in the evening

Friday, November 23, 2012

Ontario: Draft Guide - Soil Management - A Guide for Best Management Practices

The Ontario Ministry of the Environment (MOE) has released a draft best management practice guide concerning soil management for public review and comment until January 18, 2013.  The MOE explains on the entry in the Environmental Bill of Rights Registry:

Every day, in Ontario, large amounts of soil are being moved to support development activities. This excess soil is mainly generated by excavation during construction and redevelopment activities, and often cannot be reused at the site of generation. Excess soil must be managed in a safe and sustainable manner in order to maintain a healthy economy while protecting the environment.

The ministry encourages the reuse of excess soil, where appropriate, provided that the use does not have a potential to cause adverse effect on human health and the environment, or impairment of water quality, as described under the ministry’s Acts and Regulations. It is the responsibility of all parties who generate, haul or receive excess soil to ensure that it is being managed in an environmentally sound manner in accordance with all regulatory requirements. The ministry would like to clarify some best management practices when engaging in soil management activities.

The proposed guidance document “Soil Management – A Guide for Best Management Practices” is attached for your review and comment. This proposed Best Management Practices guide is intended to provide essential guidance on many aspects of soil management. Please provide comments on the proposed guidance document to support safe, sustainable soil movement and reuse. The ministry will evaluate all comments received to determine if future actions for soil management are required.

The proposed document would provide guidance for the management of excess soils generated from construction and redevelopment projects with a focus on those soils generated from brownfields redevelopment activities taken to commercial fill operations. While the guidance may be applicable to a wide variety of soil management projects, they are not intended to apply to small scale construction such as maintenance and repair activities or construction activities at single-dwelling residential properties based on the volumes generated.

The Soil Management - A Guide for Best Management Practices document only addresses the management of soil (soil as defined by Ontario Regulation 153/04 (O. Reg. 153/04)). The document provides guidance on how to handle excess soil from a source site where it is generated, through to the transportation of the excess soil to a site where the soil can be reused for a beneficial purpose, such as site alterations, re-grading, or filling in excavations, or to soil stockpiling sites for temporary storage. These activities must meet any relevant regulatory requirements and should ensure that there is no adverse effect.

This proposed guidance document would promote some of the best practices that are currently being exercised by those who actively manage excess soil across the province. The proposed guidance is intended to assist municipalities and conservation authorities in their oversight of fill operations through their existing permitting regimes. This proposed guidance will help to provide consistency across the province in expectations for excess soil management.
Soil Management – A Guide for Best Management Practices currently focuses on five key areas of interest:
  • Soil reuse at civil construction and other commercial development activities;
  • Soil generation at source sites, assessment and management;
  • Soil acceptance at receiving sites, assessment and management;
  • Procurement practices for the removal and management of excess soils;
  • Temporary Soil Banking (soil stockpiling).
As part of the Best Management Practices document, the ministry is not intending to introduce new standards that apply to soil movement. The ministry does however anticipate supporting industry in the development of complementary industry code of practices, such as guidance for Qualified Persons for the development of appropriate soil standards for receiving sites.

The ministry encourages all comments and input into the proposed guidance document. The ministry is looking for particular input into what terms within the document require further definition and recommendations on how to define terms within the document, such as “large-scale”.

A copy of the draft guide is available at: For Consultation - Soil Management - A Guide for Best Management Practices

Shaun Fluker on Bill 2 in Alberta: Implications for Landowner Participation

Click on the following link to read a comment by University of Calgary Assistant Professor Shaun Fluker on Alberta Bill 2 (Responsible Energy Development Act) and it implications for landowner participation: Bill 2 and its implications for landowner participation in energy project decision-making.  Fluker's observations on the bill include the following:
Bill 2 contains no statutory obligation on the Regulator to conduct a hearing either before or after it makes a decision on whether to approve a proposed energy project.  Bill 2 repeals the statutory hearing rights provided to a landonwer in section 26(2) of the ERCA to contest an energy project application, and does not replace them.

Monday, November 19, 2012

While it may sometimes seem unfair when rules are changed in the middle of a game...

... that is the nature of the game when one is dealing with goverment programs.

That was the statement made by the Ontario Divisional Court in a recent decision dismissing an application for judicial review of actions take (or not taken) by the Ontario Power Authority and the Ontario Minister of Energy in connection with green energy Feed-in-Tariff projects.  A long list of project proponents (118 in total) sought declarations from the Court that the OPA and the Minister "acted unreasonably in failing to process applications in accordance with" the OPA's own rules and that the Minister's new "Directions" in the FIT program are "unfair, discriminatory and ultra vires the enabling legislation".  The Applicants also sought an order requiring the OPA to process their existing FIT applications in accordance with the previous FIT Program Rules.

The complaint was that changes made to the FIT Program Rules were unfair to those project proponents who had already applied under the old rules - the new rules would apply to all outstanding project applications that had not already reached a certain point in the review/approval process.  Included with the new rules were lower prices to be paid for the electricity generated by FIT projects.

The Divisional Court found that the standard of review of the Minister's decision (in making and applying the new FIT rules) was reasonableness; the Court had to give considerable deference to the decision of the Minister.  In the end, the Court did not agree with the Applicants that the decisions in question were unreasonable.  In response to the argument made about legitimate expectations, the Court said:

Turning then to the ground of legitimate expectations, it is perhaps useful to begin with a definition of what the principle of legitimate expectations involves. The principle was set out in Canada (Attorney General) v. Mavi, 2011 SCC 30 (CanLII), [2011] 2 S.C.R. 504 where Binnie J. said, at para. 68:
Where a government official makes representations within the scope of his or her authority to an individual about an administrative process that the government will follow, and the representations said to give rise to the legitimate expectations are clear, unambiguous and unqualified, the government may be held to its word, provided the representations are procedural in nature and do not conflict with the decision maker’s statutory duty.
Once again, I find little to which the applicants can point that would constitute a representation that is “clear, unambiguous and unqualified”. The statements to which the applicants do refer that were made by Ministers Smitherman and Duguid do not, on their face, amount to representations that are unambiguous and unqualified. They are also not directed specifically to the applicants. Rather, they were statements of general application. In addition, the statements were clearly made in relation to the FIT Program itself and have to be read with, and understood in the context of, the detailed requirements and conditions of that program to which I have made reference above. Read in context, the applicants could not reasonably assert a legitimate expectation based on these statements that the criteria for the FIT Program or the process under it would not change.

The Court also disagreed with the Applicants that they had gained any vested rights through their involvement in the FIT program application process.  Likewise, the Court found that there was nothing to prevent the new FIT rules from having retroactive effect.  It was in the course of communicating this conclusion that the Court made its comment about changing the rules of the game mid-course.  As with tax laws, "no one has a vested right to continuance of the law as it stood in the past".  When planning one's affairs based on the current state of legis

Read the decision at: Skypower CL I LP et al. v. Minister of Energy (Ontario) et al.