Ministry of the Environment staff are seeking approval for proposed changes to the brownfields regulation, 153/04. Last year, the MOE proposed far-reaching changes, including:
- much more stringent generic cleanup standards, to be phased in 12 months later,
- a more flexible Tier 2 for risk assessment,
- more stringent requirements for Environmental Site Assessments, Phase I and II,
- new rules on soil management, and
- new rules for managing offsite migration of contaminants in groundwater.
These new rules would have a huge impact on brownfields development, and force half of all properties that now meet generic criteria into the expensive, unpredictable and slow process of risk assessment. After a storm of protest, the MOE promised to revise its proposals, to test them on actual sites throuogh desktop reviews, and to make them more flexible.
This week, MOE staff showed their revised proposals to the Brownfield Stakeholders Group. Unfortunately, we are not at liberty to tell you the details, as the proposals are not yet government policy. In general terms, some of the generic criteria would become less stringent than the numbers proposed last year, but others would become even more stringent. To partly offset this, the new Tier 2 would provide more flexibility and a much quicker turnaround for developers of some sites. On some sites, Tier 2 would also offer financial savings, which may help to offset the serious drag on brownfield development that will be caused by the new generic criteria.
With luck, we will see notice of the final regulation on the Environmental Registry by the end of the year. A further round of consultation seems unlikely.