On March 1st, 2003, the Quebec Government amended the Environment Quality Act (R.S.Q., c. Q-2) to establish new rules regarding soil protection and rehabilitation in case of contamination. The purpose of these new measures, managed by the Ministry of Sustainable Development, Environment and the Fight against Climate Change, is greater transparency from the owners of contaminated sites by setting in place incentives and/or penal measures to foster regeneration of the land.
In accordance with these measures, owners of contaminated sites are now required, as per Sections 31.58 and 31.59 of the Environment Quality Act, to provide the Minister with proof of publication of site contamination notices registered with the Land Register. Upon receipt of the document, the Ministry of Sustainable Development, Environment and the Fight against Climate Change must copy the Municipality in which the site is located.
Upon receipt of those notices by the Ministry, the City must issue a list of contaminated sites on its territory. This list is not complete, and sites which do not appear on it are not necessarily free of any contamination. The Ministry also posts a list of contaminated lands on its Website. Given the Ministry’s mandate and the sources of information, it is recommended that any search be complemented by reading the information provided by the Ministry.
According to Article 31.68 of the Environment Quality Act (R.S.Q., c. Q-2), the Cleck's Office must update the list of contaminated sites on the territory of Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue. This list is kept up to date according to notices sent by the province’sLand Register.
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There are three types of notices providing information on the soil’s environmental quality. These notices must appear on the Land Register and be made available to the public via the list of contaminated sites posted on the City’s website.
In accordance with the Environment Quality Act, the site must be subject to a thorough evaluation study in either of the following circumstances:
- if polluting activities were carried on it and a change in its vocation is planned;
- if a polluting business or industry ceases operations.
Should the study reveal the presence of a level of contaminants in the soil exceeding acceptable standards, a contamination notice must be published with the Land Register. In addition, if the land proves to be contaminated, it must be rehabilitated, in accordance with a plan approved by the Ministry.
Employees issuing permits must also consult the City’s list of contaminated lands when analyzing an application for a construction or subdivision permit. If the permit involves land that is registered on the Municipality’s list of contaminated sites, obtaining additional documents is contingent upon the issuance of the requested permit.
A decontamination notice is issued if a site that is registered on the list of contaminated sites has been rehabilitated and if after decontamination has been carried out, the contaminants in the soil do not exceed applicable standards. The decontamination notice is also published in the Land Register.
Usage restrictions apply to siteswhich have been rehabilitated by implementing improvement measures aimed at confining contaminated soils on site in order to reduce risks to public health, as well as to animal life and plant life. To clean up sites according to such an approach, groundwater impact, and toxicological as well as ecotoxicological risks must be assessed. The Ministry of Sustainable Development, Environment and the Fight against Climate Change must also approve the rehabilitation plan. The objective of land use restrictions affecting these sites is to ensure the continuity of those implementedimprovement measures. These measures are defined in the Notice of Land Use Restrictions published in the Land Register.