Improving Ontario’s Contaminated Site Remediation System
“Brownfields,” or building sites contaminated by past users, need to undergo some level of remediation prior to their redevelopment. Ontario’s brownfield remediation rules underwent a major revision in 2011. The new rules are much more standardized and prescriptive than they were before. While this has, theoretically, removed much of the uncertainty about what is required for an environmental assessment and site clean-up, the new rules are also slowing down approvals for construction projects. Some professionals in the property remediation and development field have expressed concerns that projects are being put at risk due to unnecessary costs and delays, which create a bottleneck for economic development. They also say urban sprawl is being encouraged because it is costlier to remediate previously-developed urban lands than it is to build on land that has never been developed.