Bullet Point News sat down with René de Vries this week to discuss fill management and Stouffville’s role in meeting the needs of development throughout the GTA.
De Vries, a seasoned environmental geoscientist with fill management experience, provides insights into the historical evolution of this practice and how it addresses challenges posed by development and environmental conservation.
Development projects, whether large or small, often require excavation. From underground parking garages and major transit projects to basements for single-family homes, surplus soil needs relocation.
“Stouffville has become one of those locations where a lot of Toronto fill found its home,” de Vries explains. “Many of the gravel pits around Stouffville will have been filled up with fill that came from Toronto.”
Over the past 35 years, environmental regulations and testing requirements have evolved to ensure this practice protects groundwater and surrounding property, making the industry more stringent but also more costly for builders.
United Soils is a major Stouffville recipient of such fill, and Lafarge is initiating significant fill operations to rehabilitate one of their on-site gravel pits. As part of that process, groundwater and delivered soil will be regularly tested for contaminants.
Without these controls, substances like salt, industrial chemicals, and petroleum can seep into groundwater over time. If contamination is detected, landfill disposal becomes a costly necessity.
De Vries is familiar with the consequences of lacking regulations: “Unregulated dumping of waste took place and has affected certain locations in Stouffville, with the infamous location being the Highway 48 and Bloomington dump.”
That site saw unregulated disposal of industrial waste in the 1960s, which posed a significant threat to a groundwater aquifer and public health. Government studies deemed it safe in the late ‘80s; however, local concerns remained.
“A lot of testing needs to take place before a receiver will actually receive fill material,” De Vries says. “So that’s where professionals like us come in to do that work.”
De Vries is also looking forward to upcoming workshops he will conduct with Town Staff. “They will, more or less, bring new Staff up to date with existing regulations and general engineering practices that apply to fill situations,” he tells us.
You can watch our complete interview with Rene below, and residents interested in submitting environmental concerns or topics they would like to see addressed can do so via email.