Requesting a release notice

A release notice is one of several ways to remove the restriction on approval of municipal applications in certain situations. Release notices are a one-time use only document and only apply to the applications specified in the notice.

A release notice is not equal to a Determination (that a site is not contaminated), a Certificate of Compliance or an Approval in Principle of a remediation plan. Release notices do not remove the requirement for site investigation imposed under the Environmental Management Act (EMA) and the Contaminated Sites Regulations (CSR) when you submit a site disclosure statement. 

The following sections describe the most common release scenarios and the supporting information the ministry expects in a release request.

Release requests for other scenarios may be considered. Applicants can request a meeting with ministry staff to determine eligibility and supporting document expectations. Send meeting requests to with a completed Contaminated Sites Services Application Form and proposed agenda.


A release notice will only be considered if the submission includes: all legal requirements in EMA, CSR and associated protocols; expectations outlined by scenario type below, and any other information requested by the director. If a site is not eligible for a release notice, applicants can consider alternatives such as an application for a ministry certification document (for example, approval in principle).

A release notice will not be issued in the following situations:

  • Incomplete information provided in a release request
  • A site is classified as high risk: once the high risk conditions at the site are remediated, a release request will be considered
  • A site will be developed in multiple phases and many municipal approvals are required over many years
  • For Scenarios 2 and 3; when the site is not a contaminated site

For a site undergoing a site upgrade and no contamination has been identified, the ministry will consider issuing a release notice using the 'no significant risk or threat' clause. In this situation, the submission should include all the supporting documentation listed for Scenario 2, with the exception of a remediation plan. For a site undergoing redevelopment and there is no identified contamination, the ministry recommends getting a Determination that the site is not contaminated.

Scenario 1. No site investigation required

The ministry will consider a release under this scenario in situations where municipal approval is needed to prepare a site for redevelopment, for minor site upgrades or other situations where completion of site investigation is not needed before approval of a municipal application.

The following are examples of common scenarios where release notices may be issued under Scenario 1. This list is not exhaustive and is intended as guidance only. Additional scenarios may be eligible for release under this scenario.

  • Zoning: where zoning approval is required to receive funding from a lender, or to otherwise prepare a site for development.
  • Subdivision: for municipal road dedications or to prepare a site for development.
  • Development or building permits:
    • for minor construction on a parcel such as an addition to an existing building, excavation of footings, construction of slab on grade structures or replacement of underground storage tanks in the same location.
    • For soil excavation relating to independent remediation

An applicant requesting a release under this scenario should submit the following information to the ministry:

  • Contaminated Sites Services Application Form
  • A description of the proposed activity.
  • Clearly identify all the affected municipal applications
  • Justification for not completing site investigation before approval of the municipal application.
  • Confirmation that other municipal approvals listed in section 40 of EMA are required for future site redevelopment.


Scenario 2 and 3. Independent remediation releases

There are two scenarios where a release notice can be requested if an owner or operator wishes to carry out independent remediation during the development of a contaminated or potentially contaminated site. For both scenarios, Section 6.2 of the CSR requires completion of a site investigation and submission of reports before applying for a release notice.

Use Scenario 2 when you intend to complete upgrades to an existing specified Schedule 2 use. In this scenario, the Schedule 2 use will not change, and you will only complete remediation within the proposed construction area.

Use Scenario 3 when the site use will change following redevelopment. However, it also applies to upgrades at sites where the current user is not changing and is not listed in Schedule 2 (for example, a shopping mall), but there is a history of Schedule 2 uses at the site.

Supporting information

Provide the following in support of requests for Scenario 2 and 3 release notices:

  • Contaminated Sites Services Application Form
  • Clearly identify all the affected municipal applications
  • Site investigation reports as required by section 6.2 of the CSR
  • Site Risk Classification Report
  • Remediation plan and schedule for completion of remediation
  • Approved Professional opinion
  • Preapprovals and approvals under protocols, if required
  • Commitment from property owner or operator

The mechanism for providing a release notice under Scenario 2 and 3 is based on the fact that the director has received a remediation plan supporting independent remediation of the site. The contents of a remediation plan are defined in Part I, Section 1 of the CSR.

Remediation plans can be to either the numeric or risk-based standards of the Contaminated Sites Regulation and may include Screening Level Risk Assessment.

If a remediation plan is based on detailed risk assessment, a risk assessment report must be complete at the time of submitting the release request and any statements referring to the risk assessment must be signed by a Risk-based Standards Approved Professional.

  • A performance verification plan may be required as a condition within a release notice. See the performance verification plan web page for more information
  • A detailed schedule for completing remediation should also be provided

The ministry expects an Approved Professional to review all available information prior to providing the necessary statements for a release request; specifically, with respect to the extent of site investigations, delineation of contamination, and appropriateness of a remediation plan. All applicable protocols and guidance should be reviewed and followed when evaluating site information and preparing a release request. The ministry may consider Approved Professional opinions when deciding if it is appropriate to issue a release notice for municipal approvals.

An approved professional must provide a signed statement confirming that, in their opinion:

Scenario 2.

  • the site is not high risk
  • all contamination at and migrating from the subject site has been delineated on the subject site and neighbouring parcels
  • implementation of the remediation plan will result in the appropriate management of any contamination encountered
  • remediation will be completed in the construction area before one of the following endpoints: completion of final building inspection or issuance of an occupancy permit

Scenario 3.

  • the site is not high risk
  • all contamination at and migrating from the subject site has been delineated on the subject site and neighbouring parcels
  • remediation of the entire extent of contamination at the site to applicable standards is achievable before one of the following endpoints: completion of final building inspection or issuance of an occupancy permit
  • once remediation is complete, the site will meet the applicable environmental quality standards in the CSR and will be eligible for a Certificate of Compliance

Preapprovals and approvals under protocols must be obtained before submission of a release request. A copy of the preapproval or approval must be included in the release request.

Commitment letters ensure that the property owners and operators are aware of and understand their obligations relating to a release notice. Letters must be signed by either the owner or operator of the site and confirm that:

Scenario 2:

  • there will be no change in specified Schedule 2 use
  • the parcel will be remediated in accordance with the remediation plan
  • remediation will be completed within the proposed construction area before the endpoint specified by the Approved Professional

Scenario 3:

  • the parcel will be remediated in accordance with the remediation plan
  • remediation will be completed before the endpoint specified by the Approved Professional


The information on this webpage does not replace the legislative requirements in the Environmental Management Act or its regulations. 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.