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The Ontario Ministry of the Environment has updated its Brownfields information webpage, as part of its massive IT overhaul. Meanwhile, the ministry is considering whether to fix some problems with regulation 153/04 (records of site condition and contaminated sites) before major changes come into effect July 1, 2011. The ministry knows of a number of errors in the new cleanup standards, as well as several areas where the changes will create unnecessary and unintended obstacles to Brownfields redevelopment. (Such as the rule that potable water standards must be applied in the vicinity of any “well”, whether or not the well is used for drinking. This could force developers to apply potable water standards in a table 3 cleanup, just because dewatering wells were installed. It was almost certainly a drafting error.)

Given the time normally required to propose and adopt regulations, it would be difficult to correct these problems by July 1. On the other hand, it would be worse to let the errors fester,  especially because the government now refuses to make regulatory changes except on 1 July and January each year. With an election coming this fall, any regulatory changes that don’t make it into law July 1, 2011 might have to wait an entire additional year.

We are encouraging the ministry to get on with the changes as quickly as possible. If they do, the regulatory amendments might be posted to the Environmental Bill of Rights Registry next month.

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