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Part 1: Eastern Canada Environmental Update

March 3, 2022

With Canada’s environmental regulations in constant flux, staying up to date on legislative changes and potential pitfalls is vital for businesses. From offsetting carbon emissions to virtual inspections, the more you know and are prepared, the better you can mitigate risks.

Below are some key updates and reminders on environmental law in Eastern Canada:

  1. Carbon Markets. Canada has regulated and voluntary markets for offsetting carbon emissions. Regulated markets are generally used by large emitters to meet required carbon emissions targets, whereas voluntary markets are used by both large and small emitters, including companies and jurisdictions that want to offset their carbon footprint and achieve net carbon neutrality. The cost for purchasing an offset from a regulated market is currently at C$50 per tonne and around US$15 per tonne from voluntary markets.

  2. Climate Disclosure Rules. On October 17, 2021, the Canadian Securities Administrator issued new proposed climate disclosure rules in National Instrument 51-107. The new rules require most reporting issuers to disclose a range of climate-related risks and opportunities, as well as business strategies.

  3. Soil Removal Regulations. On January 1, 2022, more provisions of the “On-Site and Excess Soil Management” regulation under the Ontario Environmental Protection Act came into effect. They require advanced planning, testing and tracking of excess soil before its removal. In Quebec, the Regulation respecting the Traceability of Excavated Contaminated Soils came into force on November 1, 2021.

  4. Virtual Inspections. Based on current federal and provincial environmental statutes, which provide for in-person inspections only, it is not clear if virtual inspections are legal or authorized. In particular, there are grey areas around site representatives participating in carrying out virtual inspections. Nevertheless, it is illegal to obstruct a site inspection, so compliance is generally recommended.

  5. Contaminated Sites Litigation.  In Albert Bloom Limited v. London Transit Commission, the Ontario Court of Appeal ruled that the statute of limitations could begin to run in contaminated site claims even where a plaintiff did not have “actual knowledge” of the contamination in the form of environmental tests. The Court also found that absent other factors, the mere migration of historical contamination through groundwater is not sufficient to constitute a continuing nuisance.

Have more than five minutes? Contact any member of our Environmental group to learn more, or view our recent Eastern Canada environmental webinar about these and other updates.