RFP: Review and Development of a National Growing Medium Standard for Section 5 of the Canadian Landscape Standard

Company name
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Deadline: September 15, 2021

The current Section 5 - Growing Medium of the CLS is based on the original standard set in the British Columbia Landscape Standard, specifically, for the lower-mainland legion of BC. In keeping with the intent of the CLS, we require a growing medium section which is applicable to all of Canada.

The goal of this project is to create a standard which provides the same level of guidance for all regions of Canada which currently exist in Section 5 - Growing Medium (Section 5 - Growing Medium, is attached to this RFP in Appendix 1). The CLS Steering Committee is ultimately interested in achieving a national framework for best practices in growing medium.

The CLS is intended to be a standard, and not a specification. The proponent will be tasked with ensuring the CLS standard is emphasized versus a code or a specification format. 

The completed Section 5 - Growing Medium should provide the CLS user with the tools and processes that they can apply to a specific site to ensure the optimal soils are being used for the project.

Elements which should be included in a revised Section 5 - Growing Medium, for each region and-or climatic zone, include:

  • An overview of importance and impact of growing medium in plant health, growth and sustained landscape performance.
  • A glossary of terms and definitions
  • Characteristics and components of (soils) Growing Medium.
  • Types of (soils) growing medium - definitions and details/illustrations
    • Harvested Topsoil
    • Imported soil
    • Manufactured Growing Medium
    • Engineered/structural soils
    • Amended On-site / stockpiled soil
    • Lightweight Growing Medium for Over Structure Conditions
    • Growing Medium for Rainwater Infiltration Infrastructure
    • Growing Medium for Ecological Restoration Areas
    • Growing Medium for Bioremediation
    • Agricultural/Horticultural
    • Recreational soils ie., sand-based sports fields, golf course soils, etc.
    • Growing medium for interior plants
  • Standardized soil sampling protocols
  • List of qualified labs- Government and private
  • Standardized soil testing protocols: provide recommendations on how testing is undertaken and what test reporting should comprise of.
  • Testing requirements
  • Physical testing
  • Chemical testing
  • Amendment /restoration recommendations
  • Standardization of results reporting templates across the country
Growing medium composition:
  • Divided by climatic zones: do we need to introduce variations for each of our existing growing medium tables, by region and by purpose? 
  • Acceptable ranges for ingredients both physical and chemical
  • Guidelines for any use of fertilizers - especially considering the environment and water courses pollutant source control 
  • Best practices for harvesting/excavating, stockpiling and short/long term storage of topsoil.
  • Best practices for site development - land clearing
  • Best practices for storage and handling of manufactured growing medium
  • Installation of growing medium
  • Weather conditions
  • Equipment
  • Establishing (or re-establishing) horizons
Tasks Associated with the Project
  • Determine whether the standard should be set by geographic region, by climatic zone or other soil classification systems, such as www.soilsofcanada.ca 
  • Conduct interviews with and undertake research of agencies, practitioners and environmental testing agencies
  • Research and writing regional or climatic specific standards
  • Identifying specific regional requirements regarding soils, such as province-specific legislation and regulations

Final Deliverable

The deliverable for this project would be a series of growing medium standards based on the existing Section 5 of the CLS template.

Experience and Qualities Required of the Proponent

  • Experience working with other non-profit or professional associations
  • Experience with writing guidelines, standards and specifications
  • Knowledge of the landscape architecture profession, soil science and the horticulture industry
  • Excellent writing and editing skills
  • Excellent computer skills
  • Experience working with committees and volunteers
  • Ability to work to deadlines

Schedule and Timelines

  • Deadline for submissions: September 15th, 2021
  • Review by CLS Committee: during the month of September, 2021
  • Award of Contract: during the month of October, 2021
  • Final Deliverable Deadline: January/February, 2022


The proponent will be expected to provide, at their own initiation and undertaking, informal updates via email to the CLS Steering Committee throughout the project until completion. Where required, the proponent must make themselves available for a monthly one-hour video conference with the CLS Steering Committee. The Committee will be the main point of contact for the proponent.


A total project budget of up to $70,000 has been allocated by the participating organizations. This includes consultant fees, expenses, meeting costs, and ancillary costs.

Assumptions and Agreements

Acceptance of the selected proponent is contingent on the successful negotiation of the conditions of this agreement, fees, and scope of service. 

The CLS Steering Committee reserves the right to accept or reject any or all responses to this RFP, as well as to reissue the RFP. 

The CLS Steering Committee is not responsible for any costs incurred by the applicant in preparation of this proposal. 

In case of disagreement in the interpretation of the provisions of this RFP, the final decision will rest with the CLS Steering Committee.

 All proposal materials submitted for this RFP will remain property of the CLS Steering Committee.

 All deliverables resulting from this RFP will remain property of the CLS Steering Committee, and their use thereafter is at the discretion of the CLS Steering Committee.

Submission Requirements 

The submission should include: 
1. A brief overview of the applicant or company (maximum one page)
2. A CV or resumé or the project team members
3. An outline of the approach that will be undertaken for this study (maximum 4 pages)


Questions may be submitted at any time to Michelle Legault, CSLA Executive Director, by email at executive-director@csla-aapc.ca 


Please send submissions in electronic format, in one .pdf document, to: Michelle Legault, CSLA Executive Director, at executive-director@csla-aapc.ca

Award of Contract

The CLS Steering Committee will select a proponent for approval by the CSLA and CNLA Boards of Directors. The proponent will be selected following an interview which shall include a discussion about fees and scope of the project.

The association has the right to accept any tender regardless of price, scope of work, or contents. Alternatives will be considered after the blackout period and may be clarified during addendums.

Assessment Criteria

  • The following criterion will guide the selection of the proponent:
  • Experience working with other non-profit or professional associations
  • Experience with writing guidelines, standards and specifications
  • Detail of the workplan
  • Knowledge of the landscape architecture profession, soil science, and the horticulture industry
  • Price

The associations may consider the full range of options, amenities, value added and / or enhancement features offered by a Proponent when awarding the Contract. The proponent is asked to list any value-added options together with the associated cost as separate items. The associations shall be the sole judge as to whether the added value offered in respect thereof justifies any additional expenditure. While the associations shall not be obligated to consider optional features, no optional features will be considered by the associations unless the Proponent’s submission fully complies with the RFP in all respects.

Deadline: September 15, 2021

CSLA | AAPC 12 Forillon Crescent, Ottawa ON K2M 2W5