“Here’s what we know: In peak construction years, up to 50 million tonnes of dirt are excavated in Ontario projects, most from the greater Toronto region, at an annual cost of $1.7 billion, according to the Residential and Civil Construction Alliance of Ontario. Industry experts say that roughly 15 per cent of that soil, as much as 7.5 million tonnes, is contaminated and should go to approved landfill or remediation sites. How much of those 7.5 million tones went to approved sites is unknown.
So where’s all that dirt going? It’s impossible to miss the dump trucks. They thunder across country roads to the north, east and west of Toronto, leaving sleepy towns in their dust. Talk to truck drivers at the Tim Hortons in Schomberg and they all say they’re carrying fill from downtown Toronto construction sites. They all say their dirt is clean, but most don’t know what they are carrying.
Sheep farmers Ruco and Kimberly Braat agreed to accept loads of soil in the summer of 2011. The couple and their two children live in the Peterborough County hamlet of Bailieboro (renowned for its butter tarts) and needed earth for the base of a barn.
Two men were offering free soil to farmers and Braat said he agreed to take hundreds of truckloads — with the strict proviso that it was clean. Later, a neighbour who wanted some for his property had it tested. The results were horrifying.
The pile of dirt their kids had been sliding on a few days earlier was steeped with polyaromatic hydrocarbons and heavy metals like barium, cadmium, copper and lead. The family complained to the provincial environment ministry….