New "Environmental Cleanup" Rules for HRM - Real Estate Blog - David Yetman

New "Environmental Cleanup" Rules for HRM

Overdue rules governing environmental cleanups will make it much simpler to redevelop valuable land in HRM
The site of a former Ultramar gas station at the corner of Chebucto and Elm streets on the Halifax peninsula sits empty many months after the station closed. New pro­vincial regulations will actually make it easier to clean up and redevelop such places.  (ERIC WYNNE / Staff)
The site of a former Ultramar gas station at the corner of Chebucto and Elm streets on the Halifax peninsula sits empty many months after the station closed. New pro­vincial regulations will actually make it easier to clean up and redevelop such places. (ERIC WYNNE / Staff)

Reposted from the Chronicle Herald

Cleaning up contaminated sites in Nova Scotia is going to get easier and a lot more straightforward.

Earlier this month, the province announced new regulations surrounding site remediation and the qualifications of individuals to do the work.

"The fact that Nova Scotia now has some regulations around contaminated sites and now has some procedures is welcome," said Mark Butler of the Ecology Action Centre.

The process of cleaning and redeveloping sites will be faster, thanks for the new rules, Environment Minister Sterling Belliveau promised in a release.

The regulations were a long time coming, Butler said.

"The deadline in the (Environmental Goals and Sustainable Prosperity) Act was 2010."

A lot of consultation went into developing the guidelines, the release states.

"The regulations reflect current best practices, are based on sound science and will be a strong enabler to ensuring health and environment goals are achieved, while encouraging contaminated site redevelopment," said George Vincent, senior regulatory affairs adviser for Imperial Oil. Sites such as abandoned gas stations, including a former Ultramar property on Chebucto Road and a former Shell property on Purcells Cove Road, may benefit from the new cleanup rules.

"Contaminated lots don’t benefit anyone, (particularly) having . . . contaminated lots lying empty in already developed areas," Butler said.

"We certainly would support the development of brown fields (former industrial sites) once they have been cleaned up and there’s no risk to human health. . . . We’ve been involved in a campaign to increase density in already developed areas. It just makes sense for so many reasons."

As well as laying out site remediation guidelines, the regulations will ensure that site professionals are qualified and will allow property owners to get a release from further enforcement by the department once a site is cleaned up to provincial standards.

The announcement also states that the regulations support the creation of an online registry of contaminated properties.

Butler would like to see a registry established not just of contaminated sites, but for it to be part of a larger online environmental registry.

"I hope the accessibility of information around contaminated sites and . . . all environmental permits and approvals . . . will be, or should be, available," he said.

In his experience, Butler said getting information about such sites has been a "real challenge," and often involves filing requests through the province’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

The new rules will come into effect in July 2013.

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