Clean fill wanted

Over the years, we have seen countless signs offering up a spot for clean fill.

Typically such spots were in a corner of a farmer’s field or next to a swampy patch. Most of those lots were created long before a fully vetted process where conservation authorities, engineers, or planners looked out for the longer term interests of everyone.

Nine times out of ten the clean fill sign would pop up and in fairly short order the lot was rough graded and a house constructed.

While there may have been the odd hiccup, most local excavators and haulers had the good sense and decency to honour the “clean” request. It was a short-term relationship of mutual benefit and as was the custom, reputations were more important than a quick buck.

Times sure have changed and outside the Green Belt, the issue is becoming a very large concern.

Take the Town of Erin as an example. Here, a short distance in relative terms from the GTA, there are many nooks and crannies that could do with a little topping off. Despite a bylaw to address the dumping of fill, township officials do not have the means to police a problem that is exasperating residents who adjoin those properties or who suffer through constant truck traffic.

To make the issue worse, the fees paid to the receiving landowner range from $10 to $50 per load. No money goes to the township for road maintenance, hitting the municipality, and, conversely, residents with a double-whammy.

In order to keep a handle on the problem, funds will have to come from elsewhere in the budget, which is taxed already just keeping up with road and bridge repairs in the municipality. The contractors involved will pocket good money as well, with no benefit or levy for municipal purposes.

Oddly enough, the problem seems to have increased because of government actions elsewhere.

Large municipal projects, like roads and sewers having been fast-tracked by stimulus funding programs, have created a rush to dispose of excess fill. Intensified housing developments, which are a result of provincial policy choices, have dramatically increased the amount and inconsistency of the fill needing to find a new home.

We are given to understand some fill has come from a large commercial mall site, begging questions about the original landscape altered and graded.

While we understand most fill loads have a certificate of sorts as to its quality, the cowboy mentality of unscrupulous operators is left unchallenged. With so many trucks and so many sites and without a properly funded oversight body, the potential for slipping one by on an unsuspecting or absentee owner is too possible for our liking.

Today a farm south of Teviotdale remains derelict, itself cursed with poor fill from decades ago.

That particular case ended in a large court battle. Having witnessed such an event and its regrettable outcome, politicians and bureaucrats would be well advised to climb onto the issue of accepting fill without a permit or fill that is not properly inspected.