A New Plan to Regulate Construction Dust

Dust from residential construction is not only a major source of disruption, it can also have significant environmental and health impacts on our communities. With input from residents across Don Valley West, I moved a motion in May 2014 directing Toronto Building staff to develop a comprehensive strategy and enforcement plan to regulate the production of construction-related dust.
As a result of these efforts, I'm pleased to report that the City's first Dust By-law came into effect on September 4, 2018. Previously, construction dust was completely unregulated in the City of Toronto. Residents who contacted their political representatives were bounced between municipal and provincial offices with no tangible results or enforcement.
The new bylaw requires builders to take specific, preventative measures to minimize the generation and distribution of construction dust, including:

  • Wetting the construction material;

  • Using a wet saw or dustless saw technology;

  • Tarping or otherwise containing the source of dust;

  • Installing wind fencing or a fence filter; or

  • Using a vacuum attachment when cutting.

Failure to comply can lead to fines up to $100,000, with special fines where it is determined that the conduct could have resulted in economic advantage for the offender, to the detriment of the surrounding neighbourhood.
At the July meeting of City Council, I moved a series of motions to build on and strengthen the newly-established by-law. I directed Toronto Building to unite this strategy with the new residential infill construction strategy, and ensure that notice of the new bylaw is communicated to residents through on-site signage. As you may know, residential construction is regulated and enforced by Toronto Building inspectors. Dust suppression, however, will be enforced by Municipal Licensing & Standards by-law officers. My motion is intended to link the two departments to prevent overlap and encourage efficiency.
I also directed City staff to expand the scope of the City's dust regulation efforts by creating a strategy to regulate dust from large-scale construction projects including multi-residential buildings, subdivisions, and mixed-use developments. Finally, I requested a report back on the implementation and enforcement of the new bylaw. I'm expecting a staff report to be presented for consideration at City Council later this year.