Alberta Proposing to allow Cities to Tax Vacant Brownfields

The Alberta Government recently released proposed changes to the Alberta Municipal Act that, if enacted, would allow for municipalities to tax vacant non-residential property at a higher rate than occupied properties.  The proposal is viewed as a means to spur the development of brownfield properties.

As reported in the Calgary Sun, Edmonton city council is behind the proposal, citing concerns that empty commercial buildings bring down a neighbourhood.  Municipal councillors in Calgary are split on the proposal.

Evan Woolley, a Calgary Councillor, was quoted in the Calgary Sun saying, “I have no interest in raising a new tax on property that can’t be developed. We already know how much property is vacant downtown and raising taxes will only make things worse.”

Calgary Ward 7 councillor Druh Farrell disagrees with his colleague, arguing that raising taxes on business owners who are bringing down the property values for the rest of the community can be an effective way to encourage them to either use the land, or sell it to someone who will.  “We see contaminated sites in high profiles areas, particularly with old gas stations. There’s no incentive to develop it and if it was taxed on highest and best use that would encourage the owner to actually make the most out of it instead of keeping it there as an eyesore,” said Farrell in the Calgary Sun.

Farrell emphasizes that even if the province gives the city power, they won’t necessarily use it, but it’ll be another tool the city can access if they want.

The province hopes to have the amendments come into force prior to October’s municipal election.

The abandoned Eamon’s Camp land in Calgary, Alberta on January 12, 2012. (Photo Credit: Leah Hennel, Calgary Herald)

Canadian Government will clean up Iqaluit dumpsite

As reported in Nunatsiaq Online, an old Iqaluit dumpsite littered with metal refuse, fuel barrels and other toxic waste overlooking the Sylvia Grinnell River will soon be removed, following a multi-million dollar remediation contract recently issued by the federal government.  Iqaluit is the capital city of the Canadian territory of Nunavut.  It sits on vast Baffin Island in Frobisher Bay, in Canada’s far north.

Transport Canada has confirmed that it awarded over $5.4 million to Kudlik Construction Ltd. for cleanup of the dump,which lies along the mouth of Sylvia Grinnell River—a popular source of fish.

Iqaluit Dump Site (Photo Credit: Steve Decharme)

The contract follows recommendations outlined in a 2016 report by Arcadis Canada Inc., commissioned by Transport Canada, that detected the hazardous debris buried in the area and noted in earlier studies dating to 2001.

“The nature of the debris in the main landfill and scrap metal dump suggest that the [United States Air Force] was likely responsible for depositing a large portion of the wastes currently found on the site,” said the report, which estimated the dump was started around 1963.

That’s when the Frobisher Bay airbase and weather station was sold to Canada by the U.S. military, but not before American personnel bulldozed old cars, appliances, fuel containers and other toxic refuse over a cliff near the river, the report said.

The site was used intermittently until the 1970s, when it was abandoned for another landfill near Apex.

The area is still used today as a “rogue dumping site” by local residents, the study said, and that could be another source of contaminants. Along with the remains of vintage army vehicles and cars, appliances and modern waste, like car batteries.

Surveyors identified toxic petroleum hydrocarbons, polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, pesticides, and other hazardous materials at four zones within the dumpsite, extending from higher ground to within a few metres of the river.

Work will begin at the site in the coming weeks and will continue until October, Transport Canada said. The remaining non-toxic waste will be sealed into a new landfill and monitored closely until 2020.

“It’s great news that the Sylvia Grinnell area is being remediated,” Iqaluit Mayor Madeleine Redfern told Nunatsiaq News July 25. But she said other old dump sites grounds surrounding the city remain unaddressed despite concerning signs of contamination.

The question is: who is responsible for cleaning them up?

Since many of the contaminated sites predate Iqaluit’s incorporation as a municipality, the responsibility for their remediation—such as the old metal dump—can be hotly contested.

Transport Canada said its responsibilities to remediate land in Iqaluit extend to areas like the Sylvia Grinnell dump, as part of an agreement to cleanup lands around the airfield that were transferred to the Government of Nunavut in the 1990s.

But in submissions to the Nunavut Planning Commission for its upcoming draft Nunavut Land Use Plan, the City of Iqaluit identified eight contaminated sites in and around the municipality that don’t fall under the airfield agreement.

Those include areas that have yet to be remediated in West 40, Federal Road, Apex, Upper Base and Lower Base.

Redfern said various reports on contamination around Iqaluit often never find their way to the right departments, leading to confusion or inaction between municipal, territorial and federal governments on the implementation of their recommendations.

And costs associated with remediation fall well outside the financial abilities of Nunavut municipalities.

“The local level governments have never had the money to effectively be able to handle environmental remediation within their communities,” Redfern said, adding that in her two terms as mayor she’s approached federal and territorial governments about “half a dozen times” on the issue.

“Many of the residents have wondered how these sites get prioritized and the city and the residents would greatly appreciate seeing all these historical sites remediated.”

A report commissioned in 1995 at the site of the old Apex dump found elevated—but below hazardous—levels of lead, copper, zinc and PCBs in nearby soil and marine sediment on the nearby shoreline.

Redfern said the possibility of leaking contaminants from the dump could effect the quality of clams in the bay, but governments not addressed the issue.

“What is the status of the Apex dump, is it still leaching, was remediation ever done?” she asked. “If it is leaching toxins then notices should be put up around the area.”

And the city’s closed North 40 metal dump—northwest of downtown Iqaluit—also dates to the era of the U.S. air base, and shows signs the site may be leaking.

Another study by researchers from the University of Saskatchewan published in 2010 noted elevated levels of hydrocarbons in Iqaluit’s Lower Base area, but concluded the levels are too low to be of risk to human health.

Lower Base used to be a dumping ground for spent fuel canisters, dating back to the earliest period of the U.S. air base in the 1940s.

Redfern added that a study estimated costs to remediate toxins discovered in the last of of the old Butler buildings in Lower Base, one of the oldest structures in Iqaluit, at more than $1 million.

Modern Iqaluit, or Frobisher Bay, was founded when the U.S. military constructed the Iqaluit airfield during World War II, as a rest point for planes flying to Europe on the Crimson Route.

During the Cold War, Frobisher Bay became a central relay point for construction of DEW line stations across Canada’s North, which were built to detect bombers from the Soviet Union crossing into North America through the Arctic.

After the DEW line was replaced by the North Warning System, starting in the late 1980s, many of those stations were abandoned in the early 1990s, leaving behind heaps of toxic waste and contaminants.

In 1996, the Department of National Defence began remediation of 21 DEW line sites across the Arctic at a cost estimated at over $575 million in 2014.

Despite being surrounded by many of the same hydrocarbon and PCB contamination garbage leftover from military uses, only a few hazardous sites near Iqaluit—like Upper Base and Resolution Island—were marked for cleanup as part of that project.

“While remediation [of Resolution Island] provided benefits to the community of Iqaluit, primarily through contracts and employment, the community of Iqaluit has not received the same level of special designation or status for remediation clean up,” the City of Iqaluit said in its submissions to the Draft Nunavut Land Use Plan.

“Despite the fact the Americans set up [Iqaluit] and used key areas within the community for military purposes.”

Hazmat Suits Market Trends to 2022

The Hazmat Suits Market research report, prepared by 360 Market Updates, provides an in-depth study on the current state of the Hazmat Suits Industry.

The Report provides a basic overview of the Hazmat Suits Market including definitions, classifications, applications and chain structure. The Hazmat Suits Industry analysis is provided for the international market including development history, competitive landscape analysis, and major regional development status.

To begin with, the report elaborates Hazmat Suits Market overview.  Various definitions and classification of the industry, applications of industry and chain structure are given. Present day status of the Hazmat Suits Market in key regions is stated and industry policies and news are analysed.

The report focuses on consumption, market share and growth rate of Hazmat Suits in each application and can be divided into two major subcategories.

Hazmat Suits Market analysis report also provides information about the manufacturing process. The process is analysed thoroughly with respect three points, viz. raw material and equipment suppliers, various manufacturing associated costs (material cost, labour cost, etc.) and the actual process.

After the basic information, the report sheds light on the production, production plants, their capacities, production and revenue are studied in the report. Also, the Hazmat Suits Market growth in various regions and R&D status are also covered.

Further in the report, Hazmat Suits Market is examined for price, cost and gross revenue.  These three points are analysed for types, companies and regions. In prolongation with this data sale price for various types, applications and region is also included. The Hazmat Suits Industry consumption for major regions is given.  Additionally, type wise and application wise consumption figures are also given.

Mount Polley Subject To Private Prosecution Due To Province’s Failure To Act

Article by Paula Lombardi from Siskinds LLP

In the fall of 2016 MiningWatch Canada initiated a private prosecution under the Fisheries Act against the British Columbia government and Mount Polley mine as a result of the collapse of the Mount Polley tailings dam in 2014. The failure of the dam resulted in 25 million cubic metres of washwater and mine waste being released downstream into Hazelton Creek, Polley Lake and Qeusnel Lake. The contents of the washwater and mining waste including mercury, lead and other toxic waste.

In the charges, MiningWatch Canada alleged that the dam released mine waste in 2014 directly into British Columbia’s Cariboo region creating a new valley and permanently destroying or altering fish habitat. It is believed that the release of the mine waste has impacted 20 different species of fish.

Mount Polley Mine

In March 2017, MiningWatch’s private prosecution against both the province and Mount Polley Mining was stayed. A lawyer for British Columbia stated that the private prosecution was not in the public interest because the British Columbia Conservation Officer Service, Environment and Climate Change Canada, and Fisheries and Oceans Canada were already investigating the incident.

The newly elected British Columbia government announced the first week of August 2017 that it would not be pursuing charges against the mine before the expiration of three year limitation deadline on the basis that “an investigation was still ongoing.” This decision leaves it solely to the Federal government to determine whether or not to pursue charges against the mine under the Fisheries Act.

On August 4, 2017, three years after the spill of the mine waste, and at the end of the three year limitation period within which the province can initiate charges, Bev Sellars, indigenous activist and former Chief of the Xat’sull First Nation, filed charges against the Mount Polley Mining Corporation. 15 charges in total, 10 under the B.C. Environmental Management Act and 5 under the B.C. Mines Act, were brought by Bev Sellars as part of a private prosecution against Mount Polley. These charges relate to the dumping of contaminated mining waste into the environment and surrounding waterways, and poor and unsafe operational practices contrary to the permits issued to the corporation and the statutory regime. These charges can potentially be taken over by the provincial government. The private prosecution is supported by numerous organizations including MiningWatch Canada, West Coast Environmental Law’s Environmental Dispute Resolution Fund, the Wilderness Committee and the First Nation Women Advocating for Responsible Mining.

B.C’s chief inspector of mines along with an independent panel of engineering experts concluded that the collapse resulted from a poorly designed dam that failed to take into account drainage and erosion failures.

The British Columbia auditor general in its May 2016 report concluded that compliance and enforcement in British Columbia’s Ministry of Mines, Energy and Petroleum Resources and Ministry of Environment and Climate Change were inadequate and “not set up to protect the province from environmental risks.”

The news release relating to the May 2016 report from the Office of the Auditor General of British Columbia stated the following as it relates to the departments audit of compliance and enforcement of the mining sector:

“Almost all of our expectations for a robust compliance and enforcement program were not met,” [says Bellringer]. “The compliance and enforcement activities of both the Ministry of Energy and Mines, and the Ministry of Environment are not set up to protect the province from environmental risks.”

The findings indicate major gaps in resources, planning and tools in both ministries. For example, both ministries have insufficient staff to address a growing number of permits, and staff work with cumbersome and incomplete data systems.

As a result, monitoring and inspections of mines were inadequate to ensure mine operators complied with requirements. Additionally, some mining companies have not provided government with enough financial security deposits to cover potential reclamation costs if a mining company defaults on its obligations. It’s underfunded by over $1 billion – a liability that could potentially fall to taxpayers.
In light of the May 2016 Auditor General’s report, we expect that the goal with the filing of these recent charges would be to encourage the province to take over the charges and enforce its own laws. Under the B. C. Environmental Management Act, the Court can order alternative remedies including but not limited to remediation, compensation and restoration of fish habitat.

 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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About the Author

Paula Lombardi is a partner of Siskinds LLP,  and practices in the areas of environmental, municipal, regulatory and administrative law.  Prior to joining Siskinds, Paula worked as an associate at a Bay Street law firm where her practice focused on occupational health and safety, environmental and regulatory matters.

Paula has a great deal of experience in: providing due diligence advice; dealing with contamination issues; handling of organic chemicals and hazardous wastes; obtaining environmental approvals; obtaining planning and development approvals; providing advice to municipalities; defending environmental prosecutions; and assisting companies with environmental and regulatory compliance. Paula has appeared before numerous administrative tribunals.

 

New Canadian Regulations Proposed on Rail Security of Dangerous Goods

The Canadian federal government recently proposed new regulations under the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act. Trains transporting dangerous goods can be particularly vulnerable to misuse or sabotage, given the harmful nature of the goods and the extensive and accessible nature of the railway system. To mitigate these risks and to better align Canadian standards with international standards, Transport Canada is proposing the introduction of risk-based regulations for the transportation of dangerous goods by rail in Canada.

If eventually promulgated, the Transportation of Dangerous Goods by Rail Security Regulations (referred to as the Rail Security Regulations) will strengthen the security by requiring rail carriers and consignors to proactively engage in security planning processes and manage security risks, by introducing the following elements:

security awareness training for all employees;
security plans that include appropriate measures to address assessed risks; and
security plan training for employees with duties related to the security plan or security sensitive dangerous goods.
Rail carriers would also be required to

conduct security inspections of railway vehicles containing dangerous goods for which a placard is required when accepted for transport and when placed in a train;
report potential threats and other security concerns to the Canadian Transport Emergency Centre (CANUTEC); and
have a rail security coordinator.

The proposed Regulations are expected to have a positive impact on public security, by increasing the likelihood that terrorist activities would be detected and prevented, and by minimizing the consequences should an incident occur, such as loss of life, property damage, environmental damage, and reduced international trade flows. The proposed Regulations would also enhance regulatory alignment with the United States, to facilitate the cross-border movement of dangerous goods by rail.

The proposed Regulations are expected to result in costs to rail carriers and consignors and the Government of an estimated $18 million over a 10-year period (present value). As with the analysis of any security proposal, it is difficult to quantify the benefits; however, it is expected that the positive impact on public security would outweigh the associated costs.

ONEIA Golf Tournament – July 19th

The annual Ontario Environment Industry Association (ONEIA) golf tournament is scheduled for July 19th at The Royal Ontario Golf Club, Milton, Ontario.

Prior to the start of the tournament, there will be a morning program that will include Karl Baldauf from the Ontario Chamber of Commerce. Mr. Baldauf will be speaking to the topic of environmental exporting in an age of tight borders and “buy America”. The morning program will be followed by a fun, low-stress afternoon of golf and networking. A banquet dinner and awards presentation will follow the golf tournament.

When: Wednesday, July 19, 2017. Registration open from 9:00 AM. Start morning program: 10:00 AM. BBQ lunch: 11:00 AM; Shotgun start: 12:30 PM; Banquet dinner: 6:30 PM
Where: The Royal Ontario Golf Club, 6378 Trafalgar Rd., Milton, ON L0P 1E0

To register:

Foursome registration fee is $700 or bundle with a hole sponsorship for just $1,250 (unstaffed)
Or bundle your foursome registration with a staffed hole (up to two people) for $2,000 (ONEIA members) or $3,000 (not-yet ONEIA member)
Individual registration fee is $175
Registration: https://oneiagolf2017.eventbrite.com

Ontario-based dry cleaner fined for environmental offence

Peter’s Drive-In Cleaners Ltd., located in London, Ontario, recently pleaded guilty in the Ontario Court of Justice to two counts of contravening the Tetrachloroethylene (Use in Dry Cleaning and Reporting Requirements) Regulations made pursuant to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999. Peter’s Drive-In Cleaners Ltd. was fined $4,000 for each offence. In addition, Barbara Jovanovic, an owner of Peter’s Drive-In Cleaners Ltd., pleaded guilty to one count of contravening the regulations, and she was fined $2,000. The $10,000 in fines will be directed to the Environmental Damages Fund.

In June 2015, Environment and Climate Change Canada’s enforcement officers inspected the facility. The inspection revealed that wastewater containing tetrachloroethylene had not been transported to a waste-management facility and that records had not been maintained. Both acts are in contravention of the Tetrachloroethylene (Use in Dry Cleaning and Reporting Requirements) Regulations.

Tetrachloroethylene, also known as perchloroethylene or PERC, is a chemical used in Canadian dry cleaning. Tetrachloroethylene can enter the environment through the soil, where it can damage plants, and it can find its way into groundwater.

On March 29, 2000, tetrachloroethylene was added to the “List of Toxic Substances” in Schedule 1 of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999. According to section 64 of the Act, a substance is classified as toxic if it may have an immediate or long-term harmful effect on the environment or if it may constitute a danger in Canada to human life or health.

Alberta Government’s Options on Remediating a Former Wood-Preserving Site

A former wood-preserving site along Lesser Slave Lake in Alberta is contaminated with arsenic, dioxins, and PCBs in excess of Alberta’s guidelines for parks and natural areas. With the previous owner of the property long gone, the Alberta government is left with the task of remediating the property. The current proposal by the government is to cap the site and turn the adjacent land it into a park.

The site is located in Big Lakes County, near the town of Faust and along the southern shore of Lesser Slave Lake, approximately 300 km north of Edmonton. The Osmose Wood Preservers plant operated at the site from 1963 to 1969 using pentachlorophenol (PCP), chromated copper-arsenate (CCA) and related products, including diesel and/or fuel oil. In 1969, a fire destroyed the retort building; however, sawmill operations continued on the remainder of the site until 1973.

Environmental investigations conducted at the site from 1989 found that the site soil and groundwater had been contaminated by the above-mentioned products and their degradation by-products. In 1993, the core of the site was excavated and the most severely contaminated soils (315 m3) were removed and transported to a landfill. The site is currently owned by the Government of Alberta.

In 2014, the Government of Alberta acknowledge that further environmental work would be required at the site to ensure that ecological and human receptors would not be impacted by the contamination originating from the site.

A 2015 engineering report done for the province found contamination remained, although it is declining with the years and has mostly been spread by dust from road traffic. Still, the report said, about 20,000 cubic metres of contaminated soil remained to an average depth of four metres on the 16 hectare site.

The existing plan by the Alberta government to cap the remaining contamination with impermeable clay and turning the adjacent land into a park is being met with trepidation by 260 residents of the nearby community of Faust. However, a government spokesperson, Jamie Hanlon of Alberta Environment and Parks, stated that removing the contaminants could create more problems than it solves. Mr Hanlon said, “Given the current level of contamination on the site, it’s likely that any activity to remove contamination would cause greater environmental harm through spread of contaminants with dust than it would risk-managing the on-site contamination itself.”

The government is still working out the budget for the proposed remediation and a final decision on clean-up has not been made.

Niagara Region Proposes new incentive program to Redevelop Brownfield Sites

The Niagara Region municipal government, which is made of 30 representatives from 12 area municipalities, recently announced it is changing its incentive program for the revitalization of brownfields. When the changes to the brownfields incentive program are enacted, developers will be eligible to recoup 100 percent of the costs or remediation for brownfield sites. Under the existing program, only development charges were waived.

The revised plan will be beneficial when the cost of soil and groundwater remediation at a brownfield site costs more than development charges.

Tony Quirk, a regional councillor that represents the Town of Grimbsy, was quoted in the Hamilton Spectator a saying: “Development charges are set to offset capital that is going to be required as a result of growth. We’re looking to keep the various brownfield incentives in there to make sure we get the right sort of development where we need it.”

Before the new development charges are passed, regional councillors have asked for more time to look over what projects are included in the development charges bylaws across Niagara.

The Niagara region is located in southern Ontario, Canada, between Lake Ontario and Lake Erie. The region encompasses a total area of 1,852 square kilometres with a population of 450,000.

CHAR Technologies Ltd. Accepts Delivery of SulfaCHAR Production Equipment

CHAR Technologies Ltd. (the “Corporation“) (TSX VENTURE:YES) recently announced that it had received delivery of equipment used to produce SulfaCHAR. The equipment arrived in London, Ontario recently. The arrival of the equipment signifies the commencement of milestone 2 of the Corporation’s SD Natural Gas Fund (supported by Sustainable Development Technology Canada and the Canadian Gas Association) project. The Corporation expects the system installation work to be complete in early October 2017, followed by commissioning.

“The arrival of the SulfaCHAR production equipment is a significant milestone for the company,” said CEO Andrew White in a company press release. “Once commissioned, we will be able to produce SulfaCHAR with higher margins and greater flexibility. Additionally, the arrival of the equipment triggers payment from the SD Natural Gas fund for our next milestone.”

About CHAR

The Corporation is in the business of producing a proprietary activated charcoal like material (“SulfaCHAR“), which can be used to removed hydrogen sulfide from various gas streams (focusing on methane-rich and odorous air). The SulfaCHAR, once used for the gas cleaning application, has further use as a sulfur-enriched biochar for agricultural purposes (saleable soil amendment product).