Environmental consultants will have to wait another month for a decision from Toronto city council about rejecting modified generic risk assessments (MGRA) for contaminated lands, as recommended by the City’s Public Works and Infrastructure Committee.
Toronto City Council has deferred the issue until its meetings on August 26 and 27, 2014.
City staff have been re-examining its Policy for Accepting Potentially Contaminated Lands to be Conveyed to the City under the Planning Act (PW32.13). While some environmental consultants have appreciated the streamlined MGRA process introduced by the Ontario government, city staff has concerns that clean-up crews will not adhere to full-depth site condition standards, leaving the natural environment, people and wildlife potentially exposed to contamination.
The committee is also opposing stratified site condition standards. It sees both approaches as flawed because contaminated soil could remain on the land at various depths, forcing land use restrictions or operational limitations.
The City committee also has concerns that the MGRA approach is limited because it can only be applied to a short list of contaminants.
The municipality often requires an applicant to transfer lands to the City for new roads, road widenings and parks. Before this can occur, the City requires the applicant to show that the lands meet applicable standards for soil and groundwater quality, a requirement seen as unnecessarily challenging with the stratified and MGRA approaches, in the committee’s view.
The City of Toronto has proposed to only accept a Record of Site Condition acquired by meeting full depth site condition standards.
Toronto’s own standards for the transfer — or conveyance — of a risk-assessed property were last updated in 2007, prior to the MOE introducing the MGRA.