Identifying sites that may be contaminated
If a property has been used for industrial or commercial purposes listed in the Schedule 2: Contaminated Sites Regulation (CSR), it could be contaminated and those contaminants must be removed from the site before redevelopment.
If your site has been used for any of the purposes listed in Schedule 2, you must submit a site disclosure statement (unless the site qualifies for an exemption, see below) if you're:
- Decommissioning or ceasing operations on a site
- Applying for municipal approvals such as zoning, subdivision and development or building permits (excluding demolition) where soil disturbance is likely to occur
- An owner subject to insolvency proceedings
- Selling a property
- Ordered by a director
Exemptions for Site Disclosure Statements
Exemptions are listed in the CSR: Division 3, Section 4. They're applied after a triggering action has occurred, and it is confirmed that the site has a history of specified Schedule 2 uses.
The ministry does not approve the use of an exemption; it is up to the applicant to demonstrate to the applicable authority that an exemption applies. The municipality or approving officer may request additional information to confirm.
Even if a site disclosure statement is not otherwise required under the Environmental Management Act (EMA), a municipality may request that a person applying for municipal approval provide the information required by a site disclosure statement. In this case, the information is not forwarded to the ministry.
How to complete a Site Disclosure Statement
Answer the leading questions on the site disclosure statement. If the site has not been used for an industrial or commercial use listed in Schedule 2 or an exemption applies to the application, the form will not be sent to the ministry.
Site disclosure statements sent to the ministry must be complete meaning all parts of the form must be filled in and a site map provided.
The ministry will not accept an incomplete site disclosure statement. This may delay the approval of municipal applications:
Section I - Contact information
- 'Person Completing Site Profile' can be the site owner, operator, or someone authorized by the owner or operator to submit the site disclosure statement on their behalf. The form should be completed to the best of their knowledge
- 'Person to Contact Regarding the Site Disclosure Statement' is typically the person completing the form and should be able to answer questions about the site’s history
Section II - Site information
Only one site disclosure statement should be completed for a site with more than one titled or untitled parcel, but individual parcels must be identified.
Only parcels where a specified Schedule 2 use occurred should be included on the form.
- Must be accurate to 0.5 of a second of the centre of the site
- Latitude and longitude coordinates can be found using online mapping programs such as Google Earth, iMapBC, ParcelMap BC, or many municipal websites
- Electronically produced maps of appropriate scale must show the location and boundaries of the site
- Identifying site features is not required but encouraged
- Acceptable maps can be easily created with any online mapping program such as Google Earth, iMapBC, ParcelMap BC, or those available on many municipal websites
- Legal site survey maps can also be provided
- Include the complete street address or nearest street name or intersection if no address has been assigned
- Visit Canada Post to find postal codes
Parcel Identifier (PID)
- A PID is a 9-digit number (format ###-###-###) assigned to a legally surveyed, titled and registered parcel of land
- PIDs and their associated legal descriptions must be provided for each parcel where a specified Schedule 2 use has occurred
- PIDs can be found on BC Assessment, municipal property tax statements, or the BC Land Title and Survey (LTSA)
Many municipalities have online mapping systems where site information can be found, including address, location coordinates, maps and parcel identifiers:
- Other resources include Google Earth and the LTSA website
Untitled Crown land (no PID assigned)
- The appropriate PINs (Parcel Identification Numbers) for each parcel, with their associated land description, should be supplied if available
- Access information on Crown lands using the Government Access Tool for Online Retrieval (GATOR)
Section III - Industrial or commercial uses
Review the list of industrial and commercial uses prescribed in Schedule 2 of the CSR.
Enter both the reference number (for example, E7) and the related written description (for example, road salt or brine storage) for each use that has occurred on your site.
If none of the listed uses has occurred at the site, enter 'none' in the space provided.
Complete one or more of the following activities if the site history is unknown:
- A search of the site registry
- Contact previous owners and the local municipality for their records on the parcel
- One or more site visits to visually inspect buildings, property, equipment, land, surface water and vegetation for indicators or presence of contamination
- Review historical aerial photos and land title records
There may be a cost to obtain information from these data sources. A site owner or operator may wish to hire a qualified professional to complete and interpret the results of these searches.
Section IV - Additional information
This section requires more detailed information regarding the activity that triggered the submission of the site disclosure statement and the future use of the site.
You must also state what searches were completed to determine historical site use.
Section V - Declarations
Review the exemptions prescribed in Section 4 of the CSR.
If any exemptions apply, the site disclosure statement does not need to be submitted to the registrar, but the municipality or approving officer may keep the completed form for their records.
The site owner or operator must date and sign this section. Whoever signs the site disclosure statement is responsible for the accuracy of the answers.
Approving Authority contact information
Do not complete this part. It will be completed by the municipality or approving officer before forwarding the site disclosure statement to the ministry.
The completed form must be submitted as follows:
- To the ministry at siteID@gov.bc.ca for site decommissioning, ceasing operations, insolvency proceedings or if ordered by the director
- To the prospective purchaser when selling a property
- To the approving officer for subdivision applications
- To the municipal approving authority for zoning, development or building permit applications
Site investigations and reporting
In most cases, submission of a site disclosure statement triggers requirements in EMA and the CSR to complete site investigations.
The CSR also specifies timelines for completing site investigations, prescribes when reports must be submitted to the ministry and allows for exemptions from the site investigation requirements when there are overlapping requirements in other parts of EMA or other legislation.
Protocol 12, Site Risk Classification, Reclassification, and Reporting (PDF, 500KB) requires submitting a site risk classification report at various points in the site identification process.
For more information about on-site investigation and reporting requirements for site identification, review:
- CSR: Section 6
- Protocol 12
Restrictions on municipal application approvals
When a site disclosure statement is submitted to the registrar, an approving officer for subdivision or municipality for zoning, development, or building permit applications cannot approve any of these applications.
Restrictions can be lifted when an applicant submits to the approving authority a Determination that the site is not contaminated, an Approval in Principle of a remediation plan, a Certificate of Compliance, or a Voluntary Remediation Agreement; or obtains a release notice from the ministry.
The municipality may require additional information to confirm that a Certificate of Compliance or Approval in Principle is valid, subsisting and appropriate for the proposed land use.
These requirements are described in the following local government statutes:
- Islands Trust Act: Section 34.1
- Land Title Act: Section 85.1
- Local Government Act: Section 557
- Vancouver Charter: Section 571B
When determining which type of document is most appropriate to remove the restrictions on municipal approvals (ministry certification or release notice), property owners and environmental professionals should consider both the:
- Short and long-term needs of the property owner
- Implications of obtaining each type of document
Learn more about release notices.
Municipalities and approving officers may charge an applicant up to $100 per site disclosure statement submitted to offset their administration costs.
The ministry will charge fees for reviewing reports concerning release notices according to CSR: Table 3 Schedule 3.
The information on this web page does not replace the legislative requirements in the EMA or its regulations and it does not list all provisions for contaminated site services.
If there are differences between this information and the Act, Regulation, or Protocols, the Act, Regulation, and Protocols apply.