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The Ministry of the Environment is continuing its lengthy consultations on proposed amendments to Reg. 153/04, the brownfields regulation. Reflecting the huge economic impact of the proposed changes, the MOE received dozens of comments by the February 10 deadline. This week, the MOE emphasized the conflicting submissions it had received on most contentious issues, such as timing, offsite liability, and how the transition will take place from the existing standards to the new ones. They promise to take all submissions into account, but won’t say when they will make any decisions. They won’t even say whether there will be another round of consultation before the final regulation is posted.

The MOE does promise that the final amendments will contain significant changes from the original posting. For example, they promise major improvements to the Tier 2 Risk Assessment process, and further changes to the generic criteria released last March.

The Ministry acknowledges that this adds to the ongoing uncertainty as to what the final numbers will be. Everyone agrees the continuing uncertainty is harmful to brownfield redevelopment, but what should be done about it? Many argue that it is time for the ministry to get on with making a decision and that any decision is better than no decision. Others argue that the whole matter should be put on the shelf for a few years until after the current economic crisis. The most likely effect of this disagreement? More delay and uncertainty.

One bit of progress is a new series of guidance documents for the redevelopment of former gas station sites, developed by OCETA and funded by the Canadian Petroleum Products Institute. The Redevelopment Framework for Former Service Stations in the Province of Ontario should help guide municipalities, property owners, developers, and other stakeholders work through the redevelopment of under-utilized and abandoned service station sites.

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