Soil Management in the City of Richmond

Cranberry Harvest

Approximately 4,993 hectares (12,338 acres) of the City of Richmond’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 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. Management of soil movement in the City plays a large role in maintaining the integrity of farmland.

Soil Deposit and Removal Bylaw No. 10200 enhances 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 the Council Strategic Plan 2022-2026 - Focus Area #5 - A Leader in Environmental Sustainability:

"Leadership in environmental sustainability through innovative, sustainable and proactive solutions that mitigate climate change and other environmental impacts.

5.4 Support agriculture and local food systems to enhance food security."

Roles in Regulating Land in the ALR

City of Richmond

Richmond City Council enacted Soil Deposit and Removal Bylaw No. 10200 (the "Soil 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 Soil 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 Soil Bylaw allows local government to have shared oversight for vetting and approving soil deposit and/or removal 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 Soil 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 Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) is responsible for regulating activity on agricultural lands throughout British Columbia. The ALC derives its authority from the following:

The ALC and City work together to ensure agricultural lands are protected from unauthorized filling and other issues of non-compliance based on the Soil Bylaw, City’s Zoning Bylaw and provincial legislation.

To report a contravention with the ALC's Compliance and Enforcement Department, please complete the ALC's Activity Report Form and/or call 604-660-7000.

City and ALC Jurisdiction for Lands in the ALR

No person is allowed to deposit soil or other material on or remove soil from any Lands located within the ALR except in accordance with the Soil 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 Soil 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.

Consequently, a property owner (or an owner's designated agent) must obtain a permit from the City when the proposed deposition and/or removal activity does not qualify for an exemption as per the Soil 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 Soil 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 or Fill Use application to the ALC. Council approval is required prior to the ALC reviewing a Soil or Fill Use 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 on or remove soil from any Lands located outside of the ALR within the City except in accordance with the Soil Bylaw.

The application process includes City staff vetting proposals to determine what requirements must be satisfied as per the Soil Bylaw.

City of Richmond Soil Deposit and Removal Application

Soil Deposit and Removal Application Submission Process

The first step in the City's application process is to submit a completed Soil Deposit & Removal Application form. The completed application form must be accompanied with the following:
  • Non-refundable City 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

Following receipt of all required documents and the City application fee, City staff will review the application to determine if any additional information is required. Following an initial review by staff and when required by provincial legislation, the Soil Bylaw, and/or City policy, an application may be subject to successive review and/or decision by the following:


Please refer to the documents and web pages linked below as other City strategies, policies or bylaws may apply to your application:

Soil Inquiries & Complaints

To inquire about the Soil 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