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 affected by this process.
Specified industrial and commercial uses
Schedule 2 of the CSR provides a list of regulated industrial and commercial uses, organized by category, that have the potential to cause contamination at a property.
Use this Schedule 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.
Submit a completed site disclosure statement 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.
Complete a site disclosure statement 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 (excluding for demolition) 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. The municipality or approving officer may request additional information to confirm 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.
Use the most current version of the form, and all parts of the form must be filled in. The ministry will not accept an incomplete site disclosure statement, 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. Latitude and longitude coordinates for a site can be found using online mapping programs such as Google Earth, iMapBC, ParcelMap BC or those available on 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 full street address or nearest street name or intersection if no address has been assigned. Find postal codes on the Canada Post website.
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 and Survey (LTSA) website.
Many municipalities have online mapping systems where site information including address, location coordinates, maps and parcel identifiers can be found. 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. 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. 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.
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.
Submit a completed site disclosure statement to the appropriate recipient noted in the table below if a specified Schedule 2 use has occurred at the site, one or more of the triggers for site identification applies, and there are no applicable exemptions.
Note: the approving officer will forward the site disclosure statement to the ministry (registrar) at siteID@gov.bc.ca
|Zoning, development or building permit||
Note: the municipality will forward the site disclosure statement to the ministry (registrar) at siteID@gov.bc.ca
Decommissioning or ceasing operations
|Sale of property||Prospective purchaser|
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 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.
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 and 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), and the 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 and the implications of obtaining each type of document.
An applicant can request a release notice from the ministry that will remove restrictions on municipal application approvals. These notices may be useful in a wide variety of situations, including but not limited to:
- Where a municipal approval is needed but there is no change in land use
- Providing 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 for common scenarios 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 Table 3 of CSR Schedule 3.
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.