Provinces optimize digitization for brownfield reporting and regulatory transparency

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Businesswomen is using a laptop to access the cloud computing system, cloud computing, big data, internet of things, business processes, various storage systems
The following are summaries of recent online developments across several provinces. Photo Credit: idambeer, stock.adobe.com

The 2024 Cross-Country Brownfield Regulatory Check-In webinar, hosted by the Canadian Brownfields Network on May 2, showcased some of the latest IT developments making ministry sites more user-friendly for remediation projects. Below are summaries of recent online developments across several provinces.

British Columbia

Alan McCammon, Manager of Remediation Assurance

In March 2023, British Columbia introduced significant updates to the Environmental Management Act and Contaminated Sites Regulation, the first since 1997. These changes streamline soil relocation laws, focusing on soils from commercial or industrial properties.

A new web-based system now tracks soil relocation information, including online notifications and registration of high-volume receiving sites. To support these laws, B.C. launched the first phase of Protocol 19, which will eventually cover all environmental media and set rules for site characterization.

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Additionally, B.C. has enhanced its enforcement capabilities with an administrative monetary penalty system. This allows for fines up to $75,000 per day for non-compliance, providing a faster alternative to court cases.

Alberta

Lisa Fairweather, Director of Land Conservation, Reclamation & Brownfield Redevelopment, Alberta Environment & Parks

Michael Lapointe, Director of Contaminated Sites and Remediation, Alberta Environment & Parks

Alberta is developing a digital regulatory assurance system to improve the regulatory experience. This system, familiar to those dealing with Water Act issues, will soon incorporate contaminated site requirements.

The new system aims to replace shared email boxes with an online dashboard, providing clear submission statuses and tracking queries and responses. This will enhance the Environmental Site Assessment Repository (ESAR) and transition towards a digitized, updatable record of site conditions.

Saskatchewan

Brent Zelensky, Manager of Impacted Sites and Environmental Emergencies, Saskatchewan Ministry of the Environment

Saskatchewan is enhancing regulatory transparency by putting more data online. New interactive maps display discharge sites, emergency spills, historical impacted sites, and real-time air monitoring data.

A comprehensive review of historical discharge cases, involving about 2,600 sites, identified 17 companies responsible for half of these cases. Using the national classification system for contaminated sites, Saskatchewan updated risk levels and plans to address higher-risk sites with no recent activity.

Manitoba

Warren Rospad, Contaminated Sites Specialist, Manitoba Conservation and Climate

Manitoba is upgrading its 25-year-old database to a new IT system, streamlining reporting through a single window to reduce administrative burdens. The province has digitized its files, creating an online registry and interactive map displaying approximately 3,500 sites, including 734 registered and 2,700 yet to be populated.

Ontario

Adam Leus, Brownfields and Permit to Take Water Approvals, Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks

Ontario has launched a new online Brownfields environmental site registry, consolidating three separate registries into a single, user-friendly system. This registry includes details on property conditions, remediation plans, and conceptual site models, enhancing public accessibility.

The new system features built-in logic to identify submission errors, reducing resubmissions. Users can now perform basic or advanced searches to find records of site conditions in one place, improving the overall user experience.

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