Identifying contaminated sites
The site identification process is a series of legal provisions in the Environmental Management Act (EMA) and Contaminated Sites Regulation (CSR) that work together with municipal legislation (such as the Local Government Act) to:
- identify potentially contaminated sites
- ensure contaminated sites are cleaned up before they are redeveloped for a new use
- provide basic site information to the public through the Site Registry
Only properties with a history of specified industrial and commercial uses are impacted by this process.
Specified industrial and commercial uses
Schedule 2 of the CSR provides a comprehensive list of industrial and commercial uses, organized by category, that have the potential to cause contamination at a property.
This Schedule is used to determine if a site disclosure statement is required at certain trigger points.
Site disclosure statements
A site disclosure statement is a form that requires readily available information about the past and present Schedule 2 uses of a site, as well as basic land descriptions. The site owner, operator or agent can fill out the form, but only the site owner or operator can sign the form.
A site disclosure statement must be completed and submitted to the appropriate recipient if a specified Schedule 2 use has occurred, one or more of the triggers for site identification applies to the site, and there are no applicable exemptions.
A site disclosure statement must be completed when any of the following actions related to a property with a history of specified Schedule 2 uses:
- decommissioning or ceasing operations
- applying for municipal approvals such as zoning, subdivision, and development or building permits where soil disturbance is likely to occur
- an owner is subject to insolvency proceedings
- selling a property
- ordered by a director
Exemptions from the requirement to submit a site disclosure statement are provided in Section 4 of the CSR. They are applied after a triggering action has occurred and it is confirmed that the site has a history of specified Schedule 2 uses. The use of an exemption is not approved by the ministry; it is up to the applicant to demonstrate to the applicable authority that an exemption applies.
Even if a site disclosure statement is not otherwise required under EMA, a municipality may request a person applying for municipal approval to provide the information required by a site disclosure statement. In this case, the information is not forwarded to the ministry.
The current version of the form must be used, and all parts of the form must be filled in. An incomplete site disclosure statement will not be accepted by the ministry, which may delay 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 history of the site.
Section II – Site Information
Only one site disclosure statement should be completed for a site made up of more than one titled or untitled parcel, but individual parcels must be identified. Note that 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.
- Maps of appropriate scale must show the location and boundaries of the site. Identifying site features is not required but encouraged.
- Include the full street address or nearest street name/intersection if no address has been assigned. Postal codes can be obtained from Canada Post.
Parcel Identifier (PID)
- A PID is a nine-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 or municipal property tax statements, or through the BC Land Title & Survey (LTSA) website.
Many municipalities have online mapping systems where site information including address, location coordinates, maps and parcel identifiers can be obtained. Other resources include Google Earth and the LTSA website.
For 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. Information on Crown lands can be accessed 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. To the best of your knowledge, decide if one or more of the uses listed have occurred on your Site either now or in the past.
Enter both the reference number (for example, E7) and the related written description (for example, road salt or brine storage) for each user that has occurred. If none of the listed uses has occurred at the site, enter “none” in the space provided.
If the site history is unknown, it is recommended that one or more of the following activities be completed:
- a search of the Site Registry
- contact previous owners and the local municipality for their records regarding 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 indicate 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 can request 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.
A completed site disclosure statement should be submitted to:
|Subdivision Application||Approving officer|
|Zoning, developing or building permit||Municipality|
Decommissioning or ceasing operations
|Sale of property||Prospective purchaser|
Site investigations and reporting
In most cases, submission of a site disclosure statement triggers a requirement in EMA and the CSR to complete site investigations. In certain cases, 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) requires the submission of a site risk classification report at various points in the site identification process. For more information on site investigation and reporting requirements for site identification, see Section 6 of the CSR and Protocol 12.
When a site investigation is required following submission of a site disclosure statement, an approving officer for subdivision or municipality for zoning, development or building for a site cannot approve any of these applications. This prohibition can be lifted when an applicant provides the approving authority with a copy of 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.
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), and the Vancouver Charter (section 571B).
The option to request a release notice in order to advance municipal application approvals is intended to address situations where a municipal approval is needed but there is no change in land use, or to provide property owners and developers with more flexibility for completing remediation during the redevelopment process.
Requests will not be accepted until the municipality or approving officer forwards a satisfactorily completed site disclosure statement.
Guidance for requesting a release notice is provided.
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 in relation to release notices according to CSR Schedule 3.