By Kristen Cockburn, PAg
In February 2021 an update was made to the BC Environmental Management Act (EMA) and the Contaminated Sites Regulation (CSR) in which the former Site Profile process was replaced by Site Disclosure Statements (SDS). A SDS is a replacement for the former Site Profile that is used to screen commercial and industrial properties for likelihood of contamination resulting from current or historical land use activities.
Under the EMA, a SDS is required to be submitted to municipalities as part of an application for permits, including:
· Development permits
· Building permits that will disturb soil on the property
· Subdivision, or
· Changes to the prescribed land use activity for non-residential properties.
All municipalities are subject to this process, without exemptions.
Outside of municipal approvals, SDSs are required to be submitted to the Ministry if ordered by the Ministry, if the property is under foreclosure, decommissioning, ceasing operations, and/or subject to the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act or the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act. SDSs are also required to be provided for real estate transactions by a seller to a prospective buyer during the sale process for real estate, however, are not required to be submitted to the Ministry or municipality. Further details on these requirements are included in Section 40 of the EMA and Part 2 of the CSR.
Information requested within the form includes the following:
· Contact information for the Site owner or operator and the person completing the form
· Site Address and Coordinates
· Current or former industrial uses included within Schedule 2 of the CSR
· A summary of proposed land uses
· A list of information used to complete the SDS, including a list of record searches
· Environmental orders, permits, approvals, certification documents or notifications pertaining to the Site.
· Reasons for submission to Ministry outside of municipal approvals, if applicable.
When completing a SDS, the first question is whether a Schedule 2 land use has occurred on the property. Schedule 2 of the CSR lists commercial and industrial land uses with a higher likelihood of land contamination. If a Schedule 2 land use has taken place on the property , it must be included on the SDS. A SDS with a current or historical Schedule 2 use listed will be forwarded to the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategies (MOECCS) for input prior to permitting. Preliminary Site Investigations may be required by MOECCS prior to permit approvals by a local government if a Schedule 2 use has occurred on the property.
Who should fill out an SDS?
A SDS can be completed by the property owner or an agent with sufficient knowledge of current and historical land uses on the property. The local government and MOECCS reviews the submitted SDS forms to screen for potential contaminated sites. It is important that the SDS form be completed by a knowledgeable person with an understanding of what constitutes a Schedule 2 use. SDS forms with identified Schedule 2 uses may be flagged by MOECCS for further investigation such as Stage 1 and Stage 2 Preliminary Site Investigations. An incorrect SDS form could end up costing thousands of dollars in unwarranted investigation costs, or legal liabilities for undeclared contamination.
If you have questions regarding the completion of a SDS, or have received a response from MOECCS regarding a submitted SDS please don’t hesitate to call us, as we would be happy to help!