POLICY REPORT

                                                      Date: March 18, 1997 
                                                      Dept. File No. EPB118
                                                      CC File No. 111-1    

   To:       Vancouver City Council

   From:     Manager of Environmental Protection, in consultation with the
             Approving Officer, Director of Planning, the City Building
             Inspector, General Manager of Engineering Services, and
             Director of Legal Services

   Subject:  Contaminated Sites Legislation


        A.   THAT Council direct staff to revise the current "interim
             policy" for contaminated sites, to incorporate the Waste
             Management Amendment Act (the "Act") and accompanying
             Contaminated Sites Regulations, including a process for
             reviewing of site profiles.

        B.   THAT the Mayor, on Council's behalf, write to the Minister of
             Environment requesting: (a) that the review of the municipal
             fee allowed by the Regulations for site profile assessment be
             carried out immediately, and not await the three years as
             proposed by the Minister; and (b) that the Act and Regulations
             be amended at the earliest opportunity to adopt the
             recommendations of the independent Canadian Bar Association
             panel whose Report, dated June 5, 1995, advocated better
             liability protection for local governments and approving
             officers than currently provided in the legislation.


        The General Manager of Community Services RECOMMENDS approval of A
        and B.

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   Council established the City's  interim policy  for contaminated sites
   in January of 1990, with amendments in March of 1991.  The policy is
   based on recognition that the Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks
   (MOE) is, and should continue to be, the lead agency concerned with
   contaminated sites in British Columbia.  Under the "interim policy", the
   City refers sites with possible contamination problems to the MOE when
   applications for rezoning, subdivision and development permits are
   received.  The City withholds approvals until favourable commentary is
   received from the MOE on the site assessment and remediation plans
   prepared by the site owners or developers.


   The Waste Management Amendment Act and accompanying Contaminated Sites
   Regulations become effective April 1, 1997.  As Council is aware, this
   legislation puts into effect the "polluter pay principle" and
   establishes a wide class of parties as "responsible persons" for
   contaminated sites.

   The legislation also puts in place a number of new administrative
   processes.  The most significant is the requirement that municipalities
   and approving officers review site profiles when the City receives
   applications for zoning, subdivisions, development permits and
   demolition permits at sites which have, or have had, a selective type of
   commercial or industrial use (Schedule 2 of the Regulations).  Pursuant
   to the Act and the amendments to the Municipal Act and Vancouver
   Charter, approvals must be held on applications for zoning,
   subdivisions, development permits and demolition permits at contaminated
   sites until the Ministry of Environment has issued an
   Approval-in-Principle or a Certificate of Compliance or a Conditional
   Certificate of Compliance.

   The new legislation will require the City to make changes in our current
   processes (mainly at application stages) and this report seeks Council's
   approval to effect those changes.

   The Regulations contain a fee schedule that allows municipalities to
   charge up to $50 for the site profile reviews.  Staff feel this is
   inadequate to recoup the costs associated with this function and request
   that a fee review be implemented immediately and not await the three
   years as proposed by the MOE.

                                    - 3  -


   Amendments to the Act and Regulations recommended by an independent
   panel of Canadian Bar Association lawyers have yet to be enacted.  These
   amendments will improve the liability protection for municipalities and
   approving officers and should be put in place as soon as possible. 
   Contaminated sites legislation, under the Waste Management Amendment
   Act, was passed in June of 1993.  Regulations to accompany the Act went
   through four drafts culminating in an Order-in-Council on December 17,
   1996, bringing the Act and Regulations into effect as of April 1, 1997.

   The Regulations have gone through a very extensive review and redraft
   process involving City staff, the UBCM, other municipalities, numerous
   industry sectors and property owners/developers.  The City's concerns
   have included the potential for liability associated with approving
   developments of contaminated sites, the need to address contamination
   existing on City streets and property, and the migration of
   contamination from and to City property.

   The City, on its own initiative and also in conjunction with the UBCM,
   brought to the attention of the Ministry during the drafting of the Act
   and Regulations a number of deficiencies in the immunity provided to
   local governments and approving officers in acting under the new
   legislation.  In early 1995, the Ministry submitted our concerns to an
   independent panel of lawyers (members of the Canadian Bar Association)
   for evaluation.  The Panel's Report, dated June 5, 1995, has
   substantiated our concerns.  While the Ministry has indicated that it
   will seek appropriate amendments to the Act and Regulations, this has
   not yet been done.


   Until the enactment of amendments to the immunity provisions occurs, the
   liability issues will remain a concern.  The legislation does provide
   some immunity in regard to the approving processes, but this immunity is
   only provided if the municipality and approving officer participate in
   the site profile review process.  It is also legally preferable to move
   the protection from the Regulations, where it is now largely contained,
   to the Act itself.  Further, immunity must be afforded to municipalities
   and approving officers acting pursuant to consequential amendments which
   have been made to the Vancouver Charter, the Municipal Act and the Land
   Title Act.  At the moment, there is no liability protection given with
   respect to actions under these amendments, which prohibit the granting
   of subdivision, rezoning, and development approvals until various steps
   have been undertaken.  The recommendations of the Canadian Bar
   Association panel address these and other concerns.

                                    - 4  -

   The following is a brief review of some of the key provisions of the new

   A.   Site Profile Review

        A site profile is a form (Schedule 1 of the Regulations) that asks
        questions about the past and present uses of a site.  A site
        profile is required if the site was used for an
        industrial/commercial use as indicated in a list provided in
        Schedule 2 of the Regulations and must be provided by an owner or
        agent when an application is made for zoning, subdivision,
        development and demolition permits.  The City must review the site
        profile to determine whether it has been filled out properly and if
        any of the questions have been answered "yes".  The City must send
        the "yes" site profiles to the MOE's Regional Manager within 15
        days.  The City and the Approving Officer cannot grant approvals
        until the Regional Manager either informs us that no further action
        is required or that further assessment is needed.  In the latter
        case, the City would need to receive an Approval-in-Principle, or a
        Certificate of Compliance, or a Conditional Certificate of
        Compliance, before the City grants approval on the application. 
        Site profiles which do not need to be sent to the Regional Manager
        are sent to the Provincial Site Registry.

   B.   Opting Out

        The Ministry has incorporated into the Regulations an option for
        municipalities to opt out of the site profile review process.  A
        municipality that chooses to 	opt out	 must file written notice
        with the Minister that it does not wish to receive site profiles. 
        Although this would relieve liability concerns around site profile
        administration by local governments, it would not address or solve
        the liability concerns which would still exist in respect to the
        development of contaminated sites.  The City would be compelled,
        nonetheless, to continue to develop and maintain its own screening
        process and approval procedures for contaminated sites.  There is
        immunity now afforded within the Regulations for administration of
        site profiles.  This immunity is of some value and will be improved
        if and when the amendments noted earlier are enacted.  Staff are of
        the view that opting out of site profile administration would not
        remove the City s or the Approving Officer's obligation to hold
        approvals pending receiving the clearances from the MOE as required
        by the Act.  If the City does not administer site profiles, then
        information may not get onto the Site Registry, and the City,
        instead, will be required to keep and provide this information to
        the public and other interested sectors such as developers,
        realtors, financial and legal institutions.  There is also a
        greater risk that sites could be missed if site profiles are not

                                    - 5  -

   C.   Site Registry

        The Site Registry will be a database where information about sites
        will be made available to the general public.  Staff feel this will
        provide a notice mechanism for persons who are contemplating some
        involvement with a contaminated site and reduce the City s use of
        covenants under Section 215 of the Land Title Act for this purpose. 
        Covenants may still be required, however, for such matters as
        determining when remediation would take place in conjunction with a
        subdivision, road or park dedication, for example.  Occupancy
        permits would continue to be issued only after a Certificate of
        Compliance or a Conditional Certificate of Compliance has been

   D.   Process Change

        The City's interim process for contaminated sites is very similar
        to the requirements contained in the Act and Regulations.  One
        difference is that the City carried out the initial screening by
        reviewing present and archival information on uses of a site when
        an application was made for rezoning, subdivision, and development
        permits; this will now be done by the applicant when completing the
        site profile.

        Staff have questioned whether we should continue to do such reviews
        to verify and confirm information found on the site profiles.  The
        Act and Regulations do not require a municipality to "look behind"
        information provided by the site profile, but the municipality may
        forward conflicting or additional information to the Regional
        Manager and, if so, must also inform the applicant with the
        relevant information.  The City feels the continuation of our
        present policy provides the best protection that sites will not be
        missed.  Such sites always have a potential to have contaminants
        which could contaminate City property (streets, lanes, sidewalks,
        etc.).  The City is unique in that the  roads are owned by the
        City, not the Crown, as is the case in most other municipalities.

        The City has taken, and should continue to take, a direct role with
        respect to contamination on City property or property which will be
        dedicated to it.  The liabilities associated with ownership of
        contaminated soil is onerous from a number of views, such as costs
        and options for treatment and/or removal and disposal, effects of
        contaminants on utilities, (for example, the City's water and sewer
        lines) and on private utilities, (gas and telephone lines) and the
        possible migration of contaminants from City property back to the
        originating site or to an adjacent site.  The City will continue to
        address these concerns through contractual agreements with the
        responsible parties.

                                    - 6  -

        The first area needing to be addressed for the April 1st
        implementation is the training of all staff who are affected,
        particularly those in the zoning, subdivision, development and
        demolition permit areas.  This will include providing overviews of
        the legislation, the requirements imposed by the Regulations and
        the method for tracking of applications.  Staff from the City,
        other municipalities and MOE have met to discuss the
        municipalities' needs from an administration perspective.  The MOE
        will provide forms and standard letters which will be used to
        direct applicants in the process.

        The City will continue to funnel applications through one
        co-ordinating point, presently the Environmental Protection Branch
        in the Permits & Licenses Department.  This area will be
        responsible for tracking and providing clearances for applications.

   E.   Fees

        The fee schedule in the Regulations allows municipalities to charge
        up to $50 for assessing site profiles; the MOE has stated that this
        would be reviewed in three years.  Staff, through the experience
        gained in the last seven years of dealing with soil contamination
        issues, feel that $50 is inadequate to cover the costs for time
        spent answering applicants  questions, giving direction on how to
        find the information necessary to fill out the site profile,
        sending the document to the appropriate bodies within the required
        time frames and in the tracking to assure that approvals are not
        given until clearance has been received from the Regional Manager.


   The Waste Management Amendment Act and its accompanying Regulations
   concerning contaminated sites in British Columbia will come into effect   on April 1, 1997.  The new process for approving of zoning, subdivision,
   development and demolition permits is not unlike the interim process
   that Council approved in 1990.  Staff recommend that site profile
   reviews should be carried out by staff and that the Minister be asked to
   review the fee for doing so.  The Minister should also be requested to
   ensure the timely passage of amendments to the immunity provisions of
   the Act.  Update reports will be provided to Council once staff have
   experience with the effects of the new legislation.

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