As of September 16, 2015, the City of Vancouver
("City") has amended its Remediation
on City Streets Policy ("Policy")
to bring it in line with the requirements of the BC
Contaminated Sites Regulation
("CSR") and other
municipalities. The changes make remediation requirements for
contaminated soil less stringent and give the City greater
discretion to accept "risk assessment" of contamination
in place of physical remediation in some circumstances.
Since 2001, the City has required that contaminated soil on City
streets be remediated to the Residential Land Use standard under
the CSR for the top 3 metres, and to the Commercial Land
Use standard below 3 metres, although the City could require the
Residential Land Use standard throughout. The City could also
accept cash payment to offset future transportation and disposal
costs of soil in City streets and could accept contamination left
in place if it was supported by a risk assessment plan approved by
the Ministry of Environment and an Off-Site Soils Agreement
registered on title.
With this recent amendment, the City's Policy is now aligned
with CSR requirements for "streets" and with
equivalent policies in other municipalities. The City's
amended Policy states:
in roadways and laneways, contaminated soil must be remediated
to Industrial Land Use standards as described in the
in boulevards and street medians, where urban gardens may be
located, contaminated soil must be remediated to the Residential
Land Use standard for the top metre, and to the Industrial Land Use
standards below the first metre ("City
groundwater must be remediated in accordance with the
soil vapour must be remediated to Industrial Land Use
the City Manager or delegate may approve a "risk
assessment" approach to remediation if the Ministry of
Environment issues a Certificate of Compliance, a Remediation
Agreement is in place, and the City determines it has adequate
financial security for future contamination management and
The City requires a separate Certificate of Compliance for any
remediation carried out on City lands, whether the remediation is
carried out to numeric standards or to "risk-based"
The amended Policy is intended to reduce the volume of
contaminated soil sent to landfills and the greenhouse gas
emissions associated with soil transportation; reduce disruptions,
road closures, and risks to City infrastructure by reducing
excavation; and reduce uncertainty and costs for owners of
Although the amended Policy imposes less stringent remediation
standards, the City reports that the Ministry of Environment,
Vancouver Coastal Health, and the Vancouver Food Policy Council
have reviewed the Policy for risks to human health and urban food
production and support the amendments.
A party who wishes to apply to the City for approval of a
"risk assessment" approach to remediation must make a
formal application. A "risk assessment" approach is
commonly accepted as a scientific and best practice approach to
remediation of environmental contamination. It involves the
calculation of levels of risk to human, ecological, and
environmental health if a contaminant remains in place. A
"risk assessment" approach in place of physical
remediation may be approved on a case-by-case basis for individual
An applicant for approval of a "risk assessment"
approach must obtain a separate Certificate of Compliance from the
Ministry of Environment that confirms that either:
the soil within the top 1 metre of boulevards and/or street
medians meets Residential Land Use standards and Industrial Land
Use standards below 1 metre; or
the soil has been remediated to Industrial Land Use standards,
with an accompanying letter report signed by a Contaminated Sites
Approved Professional that confirms that boulevards and/or street
medians have been remediated in accordance with City
Parties with Remediation Agreements in place before September
16, 2015 have the option of completing remediation under their
existing agreements or following the City's amended
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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