What is the Process?
The information presented is a high level synthesis of referenced MOE guidance, procedures and protocols that may apply to brownfield redevelopment sites. Here are step-by-step instructions to walk you through what to do with contaminated and suspect sites.
1 Check the Site Registry
The Site Registry has a list of all known contaminated sites as well as those currently being investigated. If your property is already listed, it may require little, if any, cleanup, or have already been cleaned up to regulatory standards.
2 Find an Expert
The best thing you can do before rolling up your sleeves is to get an experienced environmental site assessor onboard. A select list can be found in the BCEIA Member Directory.
3 Do Your Research
The more you know, the better. Here are some background information tools to help you get started. They can assist you with:
- EcoLog ERIS Database Search
- Air/Aerial Photographs
- Fire Insurance Maps
- Historical Topographic Maps
- Land Titles
- City Directories
- Municipal Websites and Archives
- Site Registry
4 Know The Law
If you are the owner of a brownfield site, you may still be required to send a Site Profile (environmental screening form). Check out this BC Ministry of Environment Fact Sheet for more information.
Liability in BC is based on the “polluter-pays principle” (i.e. those who cause contamination should be responsible for the cleanup). The BC Ministry of Environment Fact Sheet provides an overview of responsibilities and costs.
It also provides a list of who may be considered responsible for the cleanup.
5 Know Your Responsibilities
Consult this process guide to find out the roles and responsibilities for each of the parties involved.
A “Responsible Person” under the Environmental Management Act includes the previous owner or operator of a property and producer or transporter of a substance that caused contamination.
Responsible Persons are:
- Absolutely liable (can’t use due diligence as a defence);
- Retroactively liable (responsible for contamination that has occurred in the past from the operations of the responsible person); and
- Joint and several liable (will be required to pay for the entire remediation if other parties involved can’t or won’t).
Someone who “innocently acquired” a contaminated site may not be held responsible for the cleanup provided they can show that:
- the site was already contaminated;
- he or she had no way of knowing or suspecting that the site was contaminated; and
- he or she made all appropriate inquiries of previous ownership and uses of the site
6 Get Financial Assistance
Remediation can be costly, but help is available. This roadmap document can guide you to legislation and funding programs.
Also, the Province’s Brownfield Renewal Strategy has released a document titled A Community Resource Guide for Brownfields Redevelopment: Project Funding.
The Brownfield Renewal Strategy’s own funding program can be accessed through its website.
7 Look to your Local Government
8 Talk to the Bank
Jamie Evans, Senior Manager Environmental Risk for RBC, prepared this backgrounder for the Canadian Brownfields Network (CBN) which discusses the typical process for financing contaminated sites. Jamie also provides a few tips and deal-breakers.
9 Review Case Studies
These case studies will illustrate how similar cases have been handled in the past.
Details about two former service stations are in this Provincial document: A Community Resource Guide For Brownfields Redevelopment: Case Studies.
A comprehensive summary report of a two-day conference about a pilot charette in Nanaimo is also available. The charette highlighted the importance of input, collaboration, and partnerships among stakeholders (local government, provincial government, community-based associations, and the petroleum, environmental consulting, and development industries).