The Normal Farm Practices Protection Board, a provincial quasi-judicial board similar to the Ontario Municipal Board, overruled the Town of New Tecumseth’s anti-fill dumping bylaw in a case involving the owner of a farm property who intends to fill his recently purchased lands to create an apple orchard.
The owner argued that 87,000 cubic metres fill was needed to ‘soften the contours of the land and provide better water and air drainage for the proposed orchard.’ The Town bylaw prohibits the dumping of fill in the municipality except by approval of Council for up to 100 cubic metres of fill.
The Town denied the application, saying the import of the fill was not a normal farm practice.
In its ruling, the Normal Farm Practices Protection Board, ruled the proposal of around 100,000 tons of fill is a normal farm practice.
The Respondent [Town] argues that this cannot be a normal farm practice because it is, in fact, a commercial fill operation. The Applicant answers that a commercial fill operation and a normal farm practice are not mutually exclusive. We agree.
This precedent setting ruling could impact attempts to regulate fill in other municipalities – including Hamilton – by submitting applications saying they need to level large lots of land using fill for fruit trees.
The Toronto Fill Problem
Following calls from local citizens, many towns and municipalities have tightened their local by-laws to regulate both the kind and amount of fill to prevent contaminated soil from Toronto from being dumped in their backyards. (The Toronto Star did a great series into the lack of province oversight of contaminated dirt)
These bylaws are in question following this ruling, including Hamilton’s recent bylaw blitz in rural Flamborough.
UPDATE: In January 2017, the Ontario Divisional Court upheld this ruling after the Town appealed.