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Environmental Regulatory Compliance in B.C., Alberta, Ontario and Quebec During COVID-19

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Written by Sabrina Spencer, Dufferin Harper, Jonathan W. Kahn, Charles Kazaz, and Sydney McLauchlan, Blake Cassels & Graydon LLP

In light of ongoing uncertainty of the duration of COVID-19 and its impact on industrial operations and despite the federal government only committing to the exercise of “enforcement discretion,” several provinces have recently acted to temporarily relax numerous environmental notice, reporting and compliance requirements. This bulletin provides an update on the changes introduced over the past several weeks by the governments of Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec. For initial governmental actions pertaining to environmental regulatory compliance requirements during the current COVID-19 pandemic, and measures businesses can take to protect themselves, please refer to our March 2020 Blakes Bulletin: Environmental Regulatory Compliance During the COVID-19 Pandemic.

BRITISH COLUMBIA

The Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy (MOE) has issued a notice stating that authorization requirements under the Environmental Management Act (EMA) and the Integrated Pest Management Act (IPMA) remain in effect and all reasonable measures should be taken to comply. If an authorization holder is unable to meet its requirements due to the impact of orders, directives or guidance issued by B.C. in response to COVID-19, the MOE requires notice of the non-compliance, including a rationale as to how the compliance issue is related to COVID-19 and information on mitigative measures being taken. Notice regarding non-compliance pursuant to the EMA must be provided to environmentalcompliance@gov.bc.ca, while notice regarding non-compliance pursuant to the IPMA must be provided to ipmreporting@gov.bc.ca. The MOE will take into consideration directives and guidance from the public health officer when addressing non-compliances.

On March 27, 2020, the Chief Gold Commissioner issued a blanket order extending timelines in relation to all claims and licenses under the Mineral Tenure Act, as well as in relation to all coal licenses and leases under the Coal Act. The time to make cash in lieu or register work on claims that have expiry dates before December 31, 2021, is extended to December 31, 2021. Claims with expiry dates past this date are not subject to this order. For mining and placer leases, as well as coal leases and licenses, the time to register the annual rental payment, which is normally on the anniversary date, is extended to December 31, 2021.

Also on March 27, 2020, a notice was issued jointly by the Environmental Appeal Board, the Forest Appeals Tribunal and the Oil and Gas Appeal Tribunal suspending mandatory timeframes, effective March 18, 2020, for the filing of appeals at all three tribunals. The suspension of timeframes will remain in effect until further notice at the end of the COVID-19 public health crisis.

On April 1, 2020, OIC 158/2020 was approved to amend regulations made pursuant to the Greenhouse Gas Industrial Reporting and Control Act. OIC 158/2020 gives the director discretion to accept incomplete emission reports or compliance reports (i.e. either missing required information or a verification statement) for the reporting period ending December 31, 2019 (2019 GHG Reporting), and to provide up to six months for the missing information to be provided. The OIC also gives the director discretion to extend the submission deadline for 2019 GHG Reporting by up to six months. Finally, the OIC gives the director discretion to conduct any site visit required in relation to 2019 GHG Reporting virtually and in accordance with the director’s directions. Details on how this discretion will be exercised have not been provided.

On April 8, 2020, the Oil and Gas Commission (OGC) issued Industry Bulletin 2020-09, extending the payment deadline for the 2019/20 pipeline annual levy from 30 to 90 days. The OGC has also indicated that it will continue to undertake proactive inspections, with modified procedures to maintain social distancing which may include requesting site photographs from company representatives in lieu of site visits where possible. The OGC will also continue to take enforcement action where necessary. The OGC has also provided direction in relation to its modified operations, including new procedures related to core samples and drill cuttings, in its COVID-19 Response for Industry bulletin, which will be updated as operations continue to evolve in response to COVID-19.

ALBERTA

On March 30, 2020, the Minister of Environment and Parks, issued Order 15/2020 and Order 16/2020, which relaxed certain reporting requirements under the Technology Innovation and Emissions Reduction (TIER) Regulation and the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) Regulation, respectively. On March 31, 2020, the Minister issued Order 17/2020, which relaxed requirements under the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act (EPEA), the Water Act (WA) and the Public Lands Act (PLA). On the same day, the Director of Air Policy issued a temporary amendment to requirements under the Air Monitoring Directive (AMD). On April 6, 2020, the Minister of Energy issued Order 219/2020 which relaxed requirements under the Oil and Gas Conservation Act (OGCA), Coal Conservation Act (CCA) and Oil Sands Conservation Act (OSCA).

Order 15/2020 modifies the TIER Regulation by extending the deadline to submit 2019 compliance reports and emissions reduction plan reports, and Order 16/2020 modifies the RFS Regulation by extending the deadline for fuel suppliers, approved contributors, and renewable fuel providers to submit 2019 compliance reports, both from March 31, 2020, to June 30, 2020.

Order 17/2020 modifies the EPEA suspending all requirements to report information pursuant to provisions in approvals or registrations issued under EPEA. Similarly, reporting entities are no longer required to report information relating to provisions in licenses or approvals issued under the WA. Finally, all disposition requirements to submit returns or reports are suspended under the PLA. Drinking water facilities are not captured by these amendments however and must continue to follow all terms and conditions of the authorizations, including the required reporting.

Order 219/2020 modifies the CCA and the OSCA by suspending various reporting requirements, including annual reporting, exploration reporting and all plans within approval conditions, except conditions related to geotechnical reporting requirements. It also modifies the OGCA by suspending various reporting requirements. All initial suspension requirements for inactive wells that are not part of the Well Compliance Program and considered low and medium-risk type 6 are suspended, in addition to ongoing inspection requirements. For inactive wells in the Well Compliance program, the compliance deadline is suspended for the final program year.

The relaxation to requirements set out in Orders 15, 16, 17 and 219/2020 are in effect until August 14, 2020, or 60 days after the Order in Council 080/2020 is terminated (if done so before June 15, 2020), or when terminated by the Lieutenant Governor in Council, or by the Minister.

In addition, from March 31, 2020, to December 31, 2020, several AMD reporting requirements are relaxed including: reduced frequency of ambient continuous air monitoring station calibrations, station manifold and inlet cleaning; removal to report “calendar day” in AMD reporting forms; three-month extension for completion and submission of 2019 Annual Emissions Inventory Report; removal to immediately report exceedances of Ambient Air Quality Guidelines until August 31, 2020; and two-month extension for submission of airshed monthly air monitoring summary reports and ambient data.

ONTARIO

The Government of Ontario has promised guidance relating to requirements for monitoring and reporting during the COVID-19 crisis, but thus far no guidance has been provided and all monitoring and reporting obligations under regulations and approvals remain in force. Operationally, anecdotal experience suggests that some Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks offices are showing flexibility from an enforcement perspective, but this appears to be largely an ad hoc approach in situations where compliance is not achievable.

The Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks has announced that it is temporarily exempting all Ontario Ministries from the requirement to post proposals for instruments on the Environmental Registry, ostensibly to allow the Government to respond quickly to time sensitive needs of the Government and various regulated entities.

As set out in previous Blakes bulletins, the Ontario courts have suspended various civil proceedings and the Government of Ontario has suspended limitation periods and various procedural time limits. The Ontario Environmental Review Tribunal has confirmed that all in-person Environmental Review Tribunal hearings will be postponed but it is where possible carrying on with interlocutory and procedural matters by teleconference.

QUEBEC

The Quebec Ministry of the Environment and Fight against Climate Change (MELCC) has issued guidance on its website regarding compliance inspection activities during the COVID-19 state of emergency. The MELCC has indicated that it will need to adjust its delivery of compliance services to be consistent with the government position on COVID-19 that is focused on social distancing and take into account the challenges faced by businesses.

Under the MELCC guidance, businesses must do everything they can to avoid causing damage to the environment and they must continue to comply with legal obligations for situations that may have a direct impact on the health and safety of the population as well as on the quality of the environment.

Compliance inspections by the MELCC, other than those related to responding to environmental emergencies, responding to complaints and monitoring of drinking water, will be limited and performed in situations where there is a significant risk to the quality of the environment or the health and safety of the population.

The MELCC has also indicated that it will be tolerant with businesses whose ability to comply with environmental obligations are affected by the restrictions put in place as a result of the COVID-19 emergency measures, particularly in relation to compliance with administrative requirements, such as requirement to transmit reports. In the majority of non-compliance situations, enforcement measures will not be used. However, the MELCC reserves the right to do so if the situation requires action. Specifically, enforcement measures, such as notices of non-compliance and administrative monetary penalties, will be limited and adapted to the current COVID-19 situation. If situations of non-compliance cause significant risks to the environment or to the health and safety of the population, the government will assess the action to be taken, taking into account the emergency situation and the context specific to each case.

The MELCC has also announced that it will temporarily exempt companies who seek to convert their operations in order to participate in efforts to combat COVID-19 from obtaining environmental authorization that would normally be required to modify an activity—for example, an increase in production—or to add an activity—for example, the design of new products. The MELCC must be notified of the activity to undertaken and receive confirmation of the exemption from the Minister, which will be delivered with 48 hours.

SUMMARY

The impact of COVID-19 is rapidly evolving and there are no clear answers or timeframe for the crisis to end. To help navigate the challenges, Blakes has consolidated resources on a range of topics relating to COIVD-19 and its business and legal implications.

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About the Authors

Sabrina Spencer is an Associate at Blakes’ Vancouver offices.  Sabrina’s practice focuses on environmental, indigenous and municipal law, and includes project development matters, real property matters, regulatory compliance, indigenous consultation and accommodation, and commercial transactions and agreements.

Dufferin Harper (Duff) is a Partner at Blakes’ Calgary offices.  He practices in the areas of environmental law, commercial litigation and regulatory law. He routinely acts for clients on environmental due diligence and liability issues, especially as they pertain to brownfield redevelopment and transportation of dangerous goods.

Jonathan W. Kahn is a Partner at Blakes’ Toronto offices.  He is widely regarded as one of Canada’s leading environmental lawyers. For more than 25 years, he has provided representation and advice on a broad range of environmental and natural resources law issues.

Charles Kazaz practices all aspects of environmental law at Blakes. He advises clients in the commercial, industrial, mining and waste-management sectors. Charles is based in both Montréal and Toronto and has extensive expertise in environmental aspects of corporate, commercial and property transactions, project development, regulatory compliance and liability issues.

Sydney McLauchlan is an articling student at Blakes. She obtained her J.D. from Queen’s University Belfast.

 

 

Business as (Un)usual in British Columbia: EMA Authorization & Compliance Requirements Remain in Effect during the Pandemic
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Written by Selina Lee Anderson and Paul R. Cassidy, McCarthy Tetrault

The BC Government has acknowledged that while the province’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic may have impacts on the day-to-day operations of regulated activities under the Environmental Management Act (EMA), authorization requirements remain in effect and it is expected that all reasonable measures should be taken to comply with EMA conditions. While the BC Government has not provided any guidance on what constitutes “reasonable measures”, determining what reasonable measures are will require a contextual analysis. In particular, businesses whose operations and compliance capabilities are materially challenged by the pandemic will need to engage in a risk assessment review not only to determine where the risk to the environment is the greatest from their operations, but also to provide justification in the event of non-compliance. Once a risk assessment has been completed, businesses will be in a better position to adjust the allocation of staff and other resources (if needed) for managing higher risk operational activities. Businesses with operations in BC are encouraged to maintain proper monitoring and record keeping in order to demonstrate that all reasonable measures (including appropriate mitigation measures) were taken to avoid non-compliance with EMA authorization requirements. In addition, businesses may wish to review EMA authorization requirements and develop contingency plans to ensure that their operations are maintained in compliance with permit obligations during this period of pandemic response.

If an EMA authorization holder encounters a non-compliance issue, the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change has asked that they provide notice to the Ministry by email at EnvironmentalCompliance@gov.bc.ca. The authorization holder should identify the compliance issue(s), rationale and mitigative measures being taken. The Ministry has indicated that in addressing non-compliances, it will take into consideration the directives and guidance issued by the provincial Public Health Officer.

The Ministry has also advised that it currently has staffing resources in place to maintain all core business functions. All electronic mailboxes and normal communication channels remain open and are being monitored regularly. Authorization holders should contact the Ministry through all the usual channels. All meetings with the Ministry will be handled by phone or online.

To discuss options for managing your regulatory compliance obligations, or if you have questions about the impact of COVID-19 on your business generally, please contact your McCarthy Tétrault trusted advisor or one of the authors.

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About the Authors

Selina Lee Anderson is a partner in McCarthy Tetrault’s Vancouver office and a member of the firm’s Environmental, Regulatory and Aboriginal Group, Energy & Mining Group, Retail and Consumer Markets Group, Defence Initiative and Asia Group. Recognized for her in-depth knowledge and range of experience, her practice focuses primarily in the areas of environmental law, corporate/commercial law, regulatory law, compliance, and Aboriginal issues in the energy and natural resource sectors.

Paul R. Cassidy is a partner in McCarthy Tetrault’s Business Law Group in Vancouver and co-head of our National Environmental, Regulatory & Aboriginal Group. One of the most respected practitioners in the space, his deep industry business knowledge is without comparison. International investors routinely seek his advice on the regulatory environment for doing business in Canada.

 

New B.C. Program aims to keep organic waste from landfill

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The Government of British Columbia recently announced that it is partnering with the federal and local governments on the new Organics Infrastructure Program. The $30-million program will help communities expand their infrastructure, diverting organic waste away from landfills. It will also help the Province meet its CleanBC commitment to help communities achieve 95% organic waste diversion for agricultural, industrial and municipal waste.

Organic waste currently represents 40% of material sent to municipal landfills in B.C. and generates 7.5% of the province’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In total, the projects are expected to reduce nearly 300,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent over the next decade. This is like removingmore than 100,000 cars from the roads for a year.

The Organics Infrastructure Program combines $10 million in federal funding from the Low Carbon Economy Leadership Fund, $10 million from the Province, and $10 million in matching funds from local government applicants and their partners. Among the projects are two from the Central Kootenay Regional District — Central landfill composting facility and the Creston landfill composting facility — that, together, provide the region with food-waste processing capacity for the first time. Another recipient is the Northern Rockies Regional Municipality’s worm composting facility. It will divert organic waste from Fort Nelson’s landfill and create high-quality soil.

“This program will help communities, the Province and Canada meet our shared climate action goals,” said George Heyman, B.C.’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy. “It will also help build B.C.’s clean economy by creating green jobs and setting the stage for the economic opportunities that come from the reuse of organic materials.” 

“Investing in better infrastructure for waste management will divert organic waste from municipal landfills and turn it into clean and useful compost,” said Jonathan Wilkinson, federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change. “Initiatives such as this one are key to fighting climate change and helping us reach net-zero emissions by 2050. I congratulate the Province of British Columbia for its leadership in this effort.”

Twelve projects have finalized agreements to date. Additional projects are expected to come on board in the coming months. The initial projects are expected to break ground starting in the spring.

Organics Program Receipiants

The 12 projects in 10 B.C. that are to receive funding are listed below. Additional projects are expected to be approved in the coming months. The dollar values below represent the provincial funding portion only. The money will be distributed over three fiscal years to support project planning, design and construction.

Central Coast

  • Central Coast organics compost diversion initiative (Phase 1): $49,092
  • Projected GHG reductions (tCO2e): 950
  • This project, led by the Central Coast Regional District, is the first phase of a composting facility that will allow Bella Coola to divert organic waste from its landfill for the first time and enhance services to the Nuxalk Nation.

Central Kootenay

  • Central landfill composting facility: $776,053
  • Projected GHG reductions (tCO2e): 68,873
  • Creston landfill composting facility: $ 485,745
  • Projected GHG reductions (tCO2e): 15,890
  • Two complementary projects, led by the Regional District of Central Kootenay, will provide processing capacity for food waste for the first time in the regional district. These projects represent strong partnerships within and outside the regional district as one of the facilities will also service part of the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary.

Columbia Shuswap

  • Revelstoke composting facility: $100,000
  • Projected GHG reductions (tCO2e): 61,465
  • This project, led by the Columbia Shuswap Regional District, will allow residents and businesses from the City of Revelstoke and Electoral Area B to divert food waste from the landfill for the first time. Over half the waste entering the Revelstoke landfill is organic. This project will create a usable compost product, prolong the existing landfill life and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Comox Valley

  • Regional organic composting facility additional capacity: $484,815
  • Projected GHG reductions (tCO2e): 37,489
  • This project, led by theComox Valley Regional District, means the communities of Campbell River, Courtenay, Comox and Cumberland will be able to compost an extra 1,625 tonnes of food waste per year, supporting the regional district’s waste diversion target of 70% by 2022.

East Kootenay

  • There are three projects being funded in the Regional District of East Kootenay that work together to support a regional system. These projects are in the Columbia Valley, Elk Valley and central subregions, providing coverage throughout the region.
  • East Kootenay regionally integrated resource recovery network: Columbia Valley site: $333,160
  • Projected GHG reductions (tCO2e): 25,442
  • East Kootenay regionally integrated resource recovery network: central sub-region site: $333,160
  • Projected GHG reductions (tCO2e): 13,539
  • East Kootenay regionally integrated resource recovery network: Elk Valley site: $333,160
  • Projected GHG reductions (tCO2e): 42,563

Kootenay Boundary

  • Regional District of Kootenay Boundary organics diversion expansion project: $1,182,006
  • Projected GHG reductions (tCO2e): 2,873
  • This project will expand the regional district’s organics processing capacity to include food-waste materials from the industrial, commercial and institutional sector throughout the Boundary region and initiate food-waste collection for residents of Greenwood. This expanded facility will primarily process food waste, wood, yard and garden waste from the City of Grand Forks.

Northern Rockies

  • Northern Rockies vermicomposting(worm) facility: $222,546
  • Projected GHG reductions (tCO2e): 2,273
  • This project will divert organic waste from Fort Nelson’s landfill through a vermicomposting facility; red wiggler worms work with fungi, bacteria and other invertebrates to transform organic matter into “castings,” which can be used in municipal landscaping or residential gardening.

Okanagan-Similkameen

  • Oliver landfill residential food waste compost facility: $400,000
  • Projected GHG reductions (tCO2e): 4,014
  • This project, led by the regional district, provides the Oliver and Osoyoos landfill service areas with a new composting facility that will process residential food waste, agricultural waste and yard waste. This project is part of a larger regional strategy to manage organic wastes in the regional district. 

Summerland

  • Summerland organics processing facility: $790,500
  • Projected GHG reductions (tCO2e): 24,548
  • The District of Summerland will benefit from the relocated organics processing site as the move will increase capacity, upgrade operational and environmental technology and create high-quality Class A compost streams. The project will divert additional organic waste, preventing it from being landfilled and, therefore, reduce greenhouse gases, while prolonging the existing landfill life.

British Columbia compost facility to close operations

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As reported by The Abbotsford News, a large composting operation is shutting down after the Ministry of Environment said it risked polluting the “highly vulnerable” aquifer beneath it.

The operator of the McKenzie Road site had previously told a government inspector that he didn’t plan to take any action until his facility was legalized by the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) and the City of Abbotsford. But according to an email sent to neighbours by a Ministry of Environment official, the company behind the facility now plans to immediately close the operation after being threatened with a fine.

Lifesoils Products had been operating at the site for years, despite contravening a host of provincial and city rules. In addition to the aquifer concerns, neighbours were upset about smells, pests and truck traffic and the Ministry of Agriculture said the chicken manure composting posed a biosecurity hazard, because compost piles were located right next to a poultry barn.

The ALC told the facility to stop more than two years ago, but lifted the order in early 2017 when a non-farm use application to legalize the site was submitted.

That application first went to the City of Abbotsford, and this February council agreed to forward it to the ALC this February. City staff suggested that a subsequent rezoning of the property would require the operator to fix the various problems identified by government inspectors.

“That tells me they’re moving in the right direction,” Mayor Henry Braun said at the time.

But Coun. Patricia Ross, the lone councillor who opposed forwarding the project, said the existing concerns were worrying.

“My concern is that past behaviour can be an indicator of future performance,” she said.

A month earlier, in January, a Ministry of Environment inspector had ordered Lifesoils operator Randy Dahl to control the leachate coming from the site in order to avoid a fine.

But when an inspector returned to the site in May, she found little had improved, with the composting area still uncovered and not on an impermeable surface, according to a report obtained by The News.

Lifesoils Compost Site, Abbotford, B.C. (Photo Credit: The Abbotsford News)

Lifesoils owner Randy Dahl told the inspector that the company “does not intend to register or implement changes to achieve compliance with [the Organic Matter Recycling Regulation] and thus [the Environmental Management Act], until applications with the City of Abbotsford and Agricultural Land Commission have passed,” the report says.

The inspector referred the matter for an administrative penalty – essentially a fine. The company was also ordered to hire an expert to determine if run-off and/or leachate from the site is affecting, or could affect, the aquifer underneath.

In 2012, experts had rated the vulnerability of one of the aquifers in the area as “high.” The aquifer was described as highly productive, with dozens of wells at homes, businesses, industries and farms drawing water.

This week, an environment official told neighbours in the area that Lifesoils had “decided on the immediate shutdown of the composting operation.”

The Ministry would be “discussing the decommissioning process and timeline” with the operator this week, according to an email.

It’s unclear whether the shutdown will be permanent, and The News has not been able to reach the operators.

Neighbours believe the move will be permanent because of the regulatory difficulties faced by Lifesoils. But the ALC said Wednesday that the file remained open and that it was proceeding with the non-farm use application. The city had not yet received notice of any changes to the application as of Friday.

Results of Waste Data Analysis in British Columbia vs. other Provinces

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Vancity Credit Union recently published the results of a waste data analysis study it conducted in British Columbia. The results show that B.C. residents dispose of 549 kg of waste per year per resident. The total disposal rate is the second lowest per capita for a province in Canada. Nova Scotia residents generate the least amount of waste on a per capita basis.

The report, entitled State of Waste: How B.C. compares in the war on trash
looked at detailed data from municipal, provincial, and national databases. It concludes that while B.C. industries, businesses, and individuals are taking steps to curtail their production of waste, local reduction, compost and recycling targets aren’t on track and will likely be missed. The report also reveals that Delta has emerged as Metro Vancouver’s biggest producer of domestic trash, generating 465 kilograms for every single family residence in 2017, while Vancouver more than doubled North Vancouver’s production per single family residence.

Most solid waste produced in the region consists of construction debris, uneaten food and soiled paper.

The report also found:

  • B.C. produced 549 kilograms of garbage per person in 2016, which is 30 per cent less than the national average but almost 60 per cent more than a province-wide target for the year 2020.
  • B.C. diverted 40 per cent of its solid municipal waste from landfill and incineration to recycling and compost facilities, more than all other Canadian provinces except Nova Scotia, but well behind a common regional and municipal target of 80 per cent for the year 2020.
  • Spoiled and uneaten food – most of which could be diverted as compost – represents about 25 per cent of all residential garbage that is either thrown into B.C. landfills or is incinerated.
  • Half of all waste diverted in Metro Vancouver in 2016 came from the demolition, construction and land-clearing sector, with concrete the most common material diverted.

“B.C. is a leader when it comes to waste reduction and diversion, but more strategies are needed to track and improve results,” stated Morgan Beall, Vancity’s environmental sustainability portfolio manager, in a press release. “The province’s capacity to absorb waste is constantly being stretched. We all have a responsibility to eliminate waste.”

The report acknowledges that it was difficult to precisely determine the amounts of waste generated, disposed and diverted and what can ultimately be avoided in each municipality and province because reporting methods vary by jurisdiction. The report calls on governments at all levels to introduce measures that standardize and make public all waste collection, diversion and disposal data.

The author of the report, Vancity, is a values-based financial co-operative serving the needs of its more than 525,000 member-owners British Columbia. With $26.4 billion in assets plus assets under administration, Vancity is Canada’s largest community credit union. Vancity uses its assets to help improve the financial well-being of its members while at the same time helping to develop healthy communities that are socially, economically and environmentally sustainable. Vancity branches divert 88% of their waste from landfill and 49 of 59 branches are net zero waste (no waste is taken to landfill).

B.C. Proposes Changes to Organic Matter Recycling Regulation

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The British Columbia Ministry of  Environment and Climate Change Strategy (the “Ministry”)  recently introduced proposed changes to the Organic Matter Recycling Regulation (OMRR).  The Regulation itself governs the construction and operation of compost facilities, and the production, distribution, storage, sale and use of biosolids and compost. It provides clear guidance for local governments and compost and biosolids producers, on how to use organic material while protecting soil quality and drinking water sources.

The Ministry is currently conducting a comprehensive the OMMR to ensure it remains protective of human health and the environment. The Ministry recently published a 2018 Intentions Paper for review. The Intentions Paper is the result of policy development following
three previous policy intentions papers (October 2006, July 2012, and September 2016) with consultations, a follow up Summary of
Public Input and Policy Update (March 2017), and policy work completed this past year by the Ministry.

The policy intentions paper presents the Ministry’s policy intentions for proposed revisions to the OMRR. The policy intentions paper reflects details and further policy development completed since March 2017, including in topic areas that had been identified for further exploration or policy development in the Summary of Public Input and Policy Update.  The policy intentions paper is developed for the purpose of consultation.

The ministry’s proposed revisions to the OMRR are intended to address advances in science, feedback from stakeholders, policy direction, and operational issues or gaps that have been identified through implementation of the OMRR. Proposed OMRR revisions will be in keeping with the ministry’s approach to develop legislation, regulation and policies based on evidence and sound scientific knowledge and expertise.

Vancouver Compost Site

The Intentions Paper contains specific policy intentions and details that have changed since earlier consultations or are new policy proposals which were not discussed in previous intentions papers.  They are are follows:

  • Improving government authority with a shift from a notification process to a registration process (Section 1);
  • Classifying composting facility size by the amount of feedstock received (i.e., input) rather than the amount of
    compost produced (i.e., output) (Section 1);
  • Requiring that a notice of operation be given by facilities producing BGM and using more than 5 m3 of biosolids at a
    site per calendar year (Section 1.1);
  • Specifying requirements for engagement with First Nations (Section 2);
  • Enabling substitutions (Section 3);
  • Enabling fee payments for substitutions and registrations (Section 4);
  • Addition of new feedstocks for composting, including raw domestic sludge and used mushroom growing substrate
    and (Section 5);
  • Establishing timelines for composting facilities under permit, approval or operational certificate to adopt higher
    performance standards (Section 6.2);
  • Improving standards for compost quality criteria, including a new limit of 0.25 percent by wet weight for plastics
    (Section 6.3);
  • Specifying mandatory setbacks for composting operations (Section 6.4); and
  • Enabling a director to request post-application sampling for each site and occurrence of the land application of
    managed organic matter (Section 7.4).

The Ministry is encouraging comments regarding the information outlined in the 2018 Intentions Paper. The deadline for responses is November 8, 2018.  The Ministry has stated that it will consider all responses as it prepares the proposed revisions to the regulation.