Rescinded [2006-11-01] - Treasury Board Federal Contaminated Sites Management Policy

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Notice to the reader: As of November 1st 2006, this document is no longer in effect. It has been archived online and is kept purely for historical purposes. New Assets and Acquired Services Policy Instruments are now in effect.

1. Effective date

This policy is effective as of July 1, 2002.

2. Preamble

This policy is one element of the Federal Contaminated Sites Management Framework, which consists of a group of Treasury Board policies and best practices advisories, as described in the Appendix to this policy.

3. Policy objectives

To establish consistent management of federal contaminated sites that supports sound stewardship of federal real property assets and ensures the following:

  • rational priority setting for investment choices through a systematic identification and categorization of risks and the development of management plans;
  • early focus on reducing the risks to human health, safety, or the environment;
  • optimal use of financial and technological resources through the use of a risk management approach;
  • the development of innovative strategies to recover the social and economic value of federal "brownfield" sites; and
  • the development of best practices related to the management of contaminated sites.

Note: For interpretation of this policy in the Province of Quebec, "real property" means "immovable" within the meaning of civil law of the Province of Quebec and includes the rights of a lessee in respect of such an immovable.

4. Policy statement

It is government policy that federal departments and agencies ensure sound environmental stewardship of federal real property in their care by avoiding contamination and by managing contaminated sites in a consistent and systematic manner that recognizes the principle of risk management and results in the best value for the Canadian taxpayer.

5. Application

This policy applies to all departments under section 2 of the FinancialAdministration Act unless exempt by other acts or regulations.

6. Policy requirements

  1. Departments and agencies will make best possible efforts to ensure that occupants or any other persons using property under their administration avoid contaminating the property or the environment.
  2. Departments and agencies are responsible for remediation of negative environmental effects resulting from their operations or occupancy of real property, including property owned by other departments and occupied by the department or agency as a tenant unless otherwise exempted by a lease or contract.
  3. Where technologically and economically feasible, departments and agencies are to identify and actively manage their contaminated sites, giving priority to dealing with their most affected sites as determined under the Treasury Board Federal Contaminated Sites and Solid Waste Landfills Inventory Policy.
  4. Departments and agencies should use a risk management approach to determine what action should be taken at individual contaminated sites.
  5. Where remediation of federal real property is undertaken, departments and agencies are to set remediation objectives in accordance with the most applicable of the three methods developed by the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME):
    • Method 1: Follow CCME Environmental Quality Guidelines, as amended from time to time, and, where applicable, the Canada-wide Standard for Petroleum Hydrocarbons in Soil. To the extent that such guidelines do not exist for a particular type of contamination, or are technically or economically inappropriate for a particular situation, departments and agencies may follow equivalent guidelines or standards (e.g. provincial).
    • Method 2: Follow modified CCME Environmental Quality Guidelines where site conditions, land use, receptors, or exposure pathways differ only slightly from the protocols used in the development of the Guidelines.
    • Method 3: Follow modified CCME Environmental Quality Guidelines based on a site-specific risk assessment, as outlined by the CCME, or equivalent, where site conditions are unique or particularly sensitive.
  6. In the event that federal real property is contaminated by others, where a business case exists, departments and agencies must take action to ensure that the costs of remediation are paid for by the party that caused the contamination. Notwithstanding the foregoing, departments and agencies should take immediate and reasonable action to protect the environment and the health and safety of persons. In the event that the responsible party is a federal department or agency, that department or agency shall be held responsible for the portion of the costs of remediation made necessary by its actions.
  7. Remediation undertaken on federal real property is to be consistent with the requirements for its current or intended federal use unless it can be demonstrated that a more stringent level of remediation is economically beneficial to the federal government.
  8. Before departments or agencies acquire or dispose of real property, they must ascertain the environmental condition of the real property in accordance with the requirements of the Treasury Board Real Property Environmental Policy, Sections 5(b) and 5(c). Note, however, that these sections do not apply to "custody transfers" as defined in the Treasury Board Real Property Glossary.
  9. When disposing of federal real property, departments and agencies will, upon request, disclose available environmental information on the property to potential purchasers.
  10. Departments and agencies will develop a departmental "Contaminated Sites Management Plan" within one year of the coming into force of this policy. These plans are to be used to support sound decision making, and a copy of the first plan is to be submitted to the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat for information purposes.
  11. When managing contaminated sites in other countries, departments and agencies should comply with any applicable local or host country's environmental legislation or regulations and, where none may exist, adopt best practices to minimize harmful effects.

7. Responsibilities

  1. Custodian departments and agencies are responsible for the management of federal contaminated sites under their administration and will discharge their responsibilities in a manner that is consistent with their interest in the real property and with the management framework for that real property.
  2. The Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat is responsible for the establishment and maintenance of the Contaminated Sites Management Framework and the provision of strategic policy advice.
  3. Public Works and Government Services Canada, as a common services provider, is available to provide technical and management services to support government departments in implementing their contaminated sites management responsibilities, on a cost-recovery basis.
  4. Environment Canada plays a leadership role by providing specialist advice and guidance to government departments, agencies, stakeholders, and other interest groups on the application and interpretation of federal and provincial policies, guidelines, and programs that may relate to federal contaminated sites; promotes compliance with regulatory requirements and guidance; serves as a liaison with provincial and territorial governments; and develops, in co-operation with partners, environmental quality criteria, site assessment protocols, and remediation technologies.

8. Monitoring

The Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat will determine the effectiveness of this policy through ongoing contact with departments and agencies, consulting with the Treasury Board Advisory Committee on Real Property, and noting audits and reviews conducted by departments and agencies or by the Auditor General of Canada.

The policy will be reviewed within five years from the date of issuance. The Treasury Board Guide to Monitoring Real Property Management provides information to assist departments in monitoring and assessing policy implementation.

9. Authority

This policy is issued pursuant to the Financial Administration Act, subsections 7(1)(d.1), 9(1.1), and 9(2).

Treasury Board publications


Treasury Board Real Property Policies and Glossary

Federal Solid Waste Landfill Inventory Input Guide

Federal Contaminated Sites Inventory Input Guide

Environmental Guide for Federal Real Property Managers

Integrated Risk Management

Other publications

A Federal Approach to Contaminated Sites, Contaminated Sites Management Working Group, 1999 (

National Classification System for Contaminated Sites, Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment, 1992 (

Guidance Document on the Management of Contaminated Sites in Canada, Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (

Canadian Environmental Quality Guidelines, Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment, 1999 plus updates (

Canada-wide Standard for Petroleum Hydrocarbon in Soil (

Glossary of Terms (Contaminated Sites Management Working Group (CSMWG) - drafted 2000; expected to be finalized in 2002)

10. Enquiries

Please direct enquiries about this policy to your departmental headquarters. For interpretation of this policy, departmental headquarters should contact:

Real Property and Materiel Policy Directorate
Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat
140 O'Connor Street
Ottawa ON K1A 0G5
Telephone: (613) 941-7173
Facsimile: (613) 957-2405

Appendix: Federal Contaminated Sites Management Framework

The Federal Contaminated Sites Management Framework is an integrated package of Treasury Board policies and best practices advisories that have as their objective the establishment of a consistent approach to the management of federal contaminated sites. Whereas the policies set out roles, responsibilities, and requirements, the best practices advisories provide guidance in key areas such as "Brownfields" and the preparation of Contaminated Sites Management Plans. The existing best practices advisories that may be considered by departments and agencies are listed below.


  1. Treasury Board Federal Contaminated Sites and Solid Waste Landfills Inventory Policy
  2. Treasury Board Federal Contaminated Sites Management Policy
  3. Treasury Board Policy on Accounting for Costs and Liabilities Related to Contaminated Sites

Best Practices Advisories and other Supporting Documents

  1. Best Practices Advisory on Contaminated Sites Management Plans
  2. Best Practices Advisory on Federal "Brownfields"
  3. Best Practices Advisory on Environmental Considerations in Real Property Transactions
  4. Guideline on Liabilities and Contingent Liabilities Related to Contaminated Sites

Related Policies

Treasury Board Real Property Environment Policy