Things to consider: When developing a site alteration or fill by-law, municipalities should consider soil as a resource with potential beneficial reuse that can minimize landfill waste, greenhouse gas emissions and illegal dumping from site alteration operations. Reuse also promotes soil conservation and is a potential revenue stream for municipalities. The MOECC document Management of Excess Soil – A Guide for Best Management Practices (BMP) specifically encourages excess soil reuse (see MOECC BMP below for more information).
“Soil is an important resource. The protection and conservation of soil in Ontario is a valuable component of maintaining the environment for present and future generations. The Ministry of the Environment (MOE) encourages the beneficial reuse of excess soil in a manner promoting sustainability and the protection of the environment.”1

However, some municipalities choose to limit or prohibit the placement of excess soil within municipality boundaries, often in response to past excess soil mismanagement and contamination, and/or if the municipality feels there is too great a risk of resulting adverse effects. These types of limitations or prohibitions are typically included under by-law General Prohibitions and Regulations as shown below.

Because absolute prohibition is not advisable, according to the MOECC BMP, municipalities should consider other restrictions that can be effective methods of regulating fill operations. For example, requiring permits and agreements, registered on title, with detailed requirements such as providing a fill management plan and fees. These provisions, similar to those outlined in Commercial Fill Operations can provide municipalities with some level of protection and security.


See the Definitions Page for standard definition relevant to any site alteration or fill by-law.


Things to consider: An example of language to prohibit the importation of fill from outside the municipality:

“No Person shall Place of Dump Fill or Topsoil or cause or permit Fill or Topsoil to be Placed or Dumped anywhere in the Municipality unless (a) the source of the Fill or Topsoil is a Lot within the Municipality or (b) the Fill has been taken from within a municipal road allowance or municipal easement as part of a municipal construction or reconstruction project undertaken by or on behalf of a municipality.2

An example of a provision to limit the quantity of fill placement and large-scale or commercial fill operations within the municipality:

“No person shall place or dump any fill, remove any peat or topsoil, or otherwise alter the grade of land by causing, permitting or performing any form of site alteration involving the placing or dumping of more than 2,000 m3 of fill on land within the Town…;”3

As part of the by-law provisions, municipalities should consider provincial prohibitions that may be relevant to their local area. One example is the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Act that prohibits site alterations in the Oak Ridges Moraine Area unless as permitted by the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan.