The BC Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy (BC ENV) has recently been granted changes to the Site Identification process within Bill 17 (May 2019) which contained amendments to the Environmental Management Act (EMA). These changes to the EMA will come into force when the Stage 13 and 14 Amendments to the Contaminated Sites Regulation (CSR) come into effect on February 1, 2021.
The Site Profile form (Schedule 1 of the CSR) will be changed to become a Site Disclosure Statement (SDS). As part of the change, the Director will no longer review the SDS to determine if an investigation is required but rather an investigation will be automatically required if there is a Schedule 2 use on commercial or industrial lands. The SDS must be based on the findings of a Stage 1 Preliminary Site Investigation (Stage 1 PSI) at the minimum. The SDS must be competed by either the site owner, site operator or an authorized agent. In the past, anyone was permitted to complete a Site Profile. SDS forms completed for the purpose of municipal permits, for developments where soil will be disturbed, must be submitted to the municipal approving authority and then forwarded by them to the Registrar. Municipalities can no longer opt out of receiving the SDS as they could for the Site Profile. The SDS completed for other reasons must be submitted to the Registrar within six months of the activity triggering the SDS. These activities include decommissioning of a site, which will be deemed to have happened if the Schedule 2 activity previously on the site has ceased for a period of more than one year. For lands under the insolvency proceedings all environmental reports completed within the past five years must be submitted to the Director within 30 days of submission of the SDS.
There are some changes to the exemptions to submit an SDS. For example, an SDS is not required for zoning changes as was the case for the Site Profile or if a new sign is to be erected on the site. There are also some proposed changes to Schedule 2 uses, that have not been finalized yet, to add some activities and remove others. The Local Government Act and the Vancouver Charter will be amended to reflect the changes in EMA.
If a Schedule 2 activity is present on commercial or industrial land, an SDS will automatically trigger a Stage 2 PSI and Detailed Site Investigation (DSI). Stage 2 PSI and DSI investigations must be completed within 1 year of submitting the SDS unless an extension is granted by BC ENV.
Enforcement measures are now in place and failure to comply with the requirements for an SDS can result in fines of up to $75,000 per day.
For more information on how site identification process changes affect your business, please reach out to our office.