Soil Management in the City of Richmond
Soil is considered an important natural resource that is under considerable threat around the world due to climate change. Management of soil movement in the City is a significant priority. As highlighted in the City’s Farming First Strategy, agriculture is an important part of the local and regional economy and is a major land use in Richmond.
Approximately 4,993 hectares (12,338 acres) of the City's land base - equal to 39% - is located within the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR). This percentage of farmland requires the City to carefully manage growth, while protecting some of the most productive agricultural lands within British Columbia.
Soil Deposit and Removal Bylaw No. 10200 serves to enhance the City’s ability to regulate the deposit of soil and other material (i.e. construction waste) and the removal of soil for all Lands in the City of Richmond.The City’s continued commitment to protect Lands within the ALR for future agricultural viability supports Council's Strategic Plan 2018-2022 Strategy #2 - A Sustainable and Environmentally Conscious City:
"Environmentally conscious decision-making that demonstrates leadership in implementing innovative, sustainable practices and supports the City's unique biodiversity and island ecology.Roles in Regulating Land in the ALR
2.3. Increase emphasis on local food systems, urban agriculture and organic farming."
City of Richmond
Richmond City Council enacted Soil Deposit and Removal Bylaw No. 10200 (the "Bylaw") to regulate the deposition of soil and other material and removal of soil for all Lands (ALR and non-ALR) within the City.
The Bylaw is supported via provincial legislation which provides local government the opportunity to regulate the deposit of soil and other material and removal of soil. Unless otherwise exempted as per provincial legislation, the Bylaw allows local government to have shared oversight for vetting and approving applications, issuing permits and regulating soil and other material deposition and removal of soil through progressive enforcement measures when Lands are found to be in non-compliance with the Bylaw.
The City's application process is overseen by the Community Bylaw Department. The Community Bylaw Department is tasked with responding to public complaints and proactively monitoring all Lands in the City. The mandate of the department is to ensure regulatory compliance through education, mediation, progressive enforcement and prosecution should property owners not address issues of non-compliance in a timely manner.
Agricultural Land Commission Role
The ALC and City work together to ensure agricultural lands are protected from unauthorized filling and other issues of non-compliance based on the City’s Zoning Bylaw and provincial legislation.
City and ALC Jurisdiction for Lands in the ALR
No person is allowed to deposit soil or other material or remove soil on any Lands located within the ALR except in accordance with the Bylaw, the ALC Act and ALR Regulation.
SOIL is defined as topsoil, cobbles, boulders, sand, gravel, rock, silt, clay, peat, or any other substance of which land is naturally composed, above bedrock, but does not include Other Material. OTHER MATERIAL includes, but is not limited to, woodwaste, construction and demolition waste, masonry rubble, concrete, asphalt, glass, unchipped lumber, drywall, biological waste, organic waste, including any materials listed in the Solid Waste and Recycling Regulation Bylaw No. 6803, but does not include Soil. As per the Bylaw, importation of other material is prohibited unless provided an approval through the permitting process.
As per the ALC, construction or demolition waste, masonry rubble, concrete, cement, rebar, drywall, wood waste, asphalt, glass, synthetic polymers, treated wood, and unchipped lumber is not permitted to be used on ALR lands.
A permit to deposit soil or other material and remove soil will in almost all circumstances - unless exempted as per the Bylaw or provincial legislation - require a permit be issued by the City and approval granted by the ALC prior to deposition and/or removal.
Consequently, a property owner (or an owner's designated agent) must first obtain a permit from the City when the proposed deposition and/or removal activity does not qualify for an exemption as per the Bylaw or provincial legislation. In addition, for properties in the ALR, a permit may be required when the activity is associated with construction of a single family residence or other structure and the proposed soil removal from a property and/or deposit onto a property exceeds 0.1 hectares in total area.
Despite any exemption provided under the Bylaw or any other City bylaw, property owners are typically required to obtain an approval from the ALC prior to importing or removing soil. This would include importing soil to raise a property and/or create a new farm access road(s). Such a proposal may first require an approval from Council prior to the ALC reviewing and providing a decision.
Obtaining an approval from the ALC requires submission of a Notice-of-Intent or submission of a Soil Use for the Placement of Fill application to the ALC. Council approval is required prior to the ALC reviewing a Soil Use for the Placement of Fill application. It is recommended that any soil deposit and/or removal application satisfies the ALC’s Criteria for Technical Reports Submitted by Consultants prior to submission.
In addition, the property owner or agent is required to register for a BCeID and complete an online application through the ALC's Application Portal. Additional fees payable to the ALC may apply.
City Jurisdiction for Lands Outside of the ALR
No person is allowed to deposit soil or other material or remove soil on any Lands located outside of the ALR within the City except in accordance with the Bylaw.
The application process includes City staff vetting proposals to determine what requirements must be satisfied. In addition, Council reviews and provides decisions for applications exceeding 600 cubic metres.
City of Richmond Soil Deposit and Removal Application
Soil Deposit and Removal Application Submission Process
- Non-refundable COR application fee (see checklist linked below to determine application fee amount)
- Certificate of Title
- Corporate Registry must be included if the Registered Owner is a company
A property owner(s) appointing a representative to act on his/her behalf must also complete and sign a Letter of Authorization (if such information is not provided on their application). A Building Site Plan may be required when the proposed soil deposition is associated with residential construction on a property within the ALR. Removal of excavated soil from the Lands would require a permit from the City.
For a more detailed outline of the City's application process and requirements, please refer to the City's Soil Deposit & Removal Application Checklist.
Application Review Process
- Riparian Management Areas - Bulletin Info 23
- Riparian Management Areas (Single Family Residential) - Info 44
- Sustainability & Environment Overview
- Watercourse Protection and Crossing Bylaw No. 8441
- Environmentally Sensitive Areas (ESA) Bulletin
- Invasive Species Action Plan
- Extent of Fill Disturbance on Lands in the ALR (Single Family Dwellings) - Bulletin Building 26
- Size Limitations & Farm Home Plate Requirements for Residential Developments in an AG1 Zone - Bulletin Building 28
- Tree Protection Bulletin
- Agricultural Viability Strategy
- Farming First Strategy
Soil Inquiries & Complaints
To inquire about the Bylaw, the associated application process or to report the unauthorized deposition of soil and/or other material and removal of soil regarding any Lands within the City, please contact the Community Bylaw Department at 604-276-4345 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.