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Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessments

Buying a property? Let Rubidium Environmental’s experts assist you with understanding the environmental liability and environmental risks associated with your planned property acquisition.

What is a Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment?

A Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) is an assessment that is conducted in order to determine the likelihood of actual and/or potential sources of environmental contamination that may be present on, in, or under the subject site. The focus of the Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment is to identify the former and present land uses of the site and any properties located within a 250 metre radius of the subject site.

Proximity to gasoline service stations, automotive repair garages, dry cleaners, and heavy industrial land uses (i.e., steel manufacturing facility) are most commonly associated with subsurface contamination and are often indicators that further assessments should be undertaken.

Should a Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment identify areas of potential environmental concern associated with potentially contaminating activities, then a Phase 2 Environmental Site Assessment is recommended in order to verify and/or refute the presence of the potential contaminants of concern identified in the Phase I ESA.

Our environmental consulting firm has numerous experts with vast experience dealing with numerous lenders, municipalities, and government regulators. We understand that financial transactions happen on a tight timeline, and our engineers and scientists are able to provide expert environmental consulting services in a fraction of the time of our competitors. Having knowledge about potential environmental liabilities early in the acquisition and/or financing process allows you to focus your attention on whether to move forward with a project, or whether further ESA inspection is required to determine the extent of contamination, and how best to remediate the property, if necessary.

Why is a Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment Conducted?

Phase I ESAs are frequently required for due diligence, pre-acquisition, and financing purposes. Phase 1 Ontario Environmental Site Assessments assist property buyers and financial lenders by helping them understand the potential environmental risks associated with a property. As the cost to remediate contaminated land can be extensive, it is important that the property buyer be aware of potential environmental liabilities.

Typical properties that require a Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment in Ontario include:

  • Apartment buildings or multi-residential buildings
  • Commercial buildings
  • Industrial buildings or industrial land
  • Former institutional properties
  • Development land
  • Agricultural land
  • Brownfield properties

What are the components of a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment?

A Phase I ESA consists of the following:

Historical record review A review of provincial, federal, and private database records, aerial photographs, city directories, land titles, fire insurance plans, illustrated atlases, topographic maps, and soil maps.
Site reconnaissance An inspection of the property, comprising the property exterior, building exterior and the building interior.
Interviews with knowledgeable persons and regulatory officials Discussions with on-site personnel, including property owners, building operators, maintenance staff, site managers and tenants.   Also includes discussions with municipal government staff.
A review and evaluation of the collected information Reviewing and assessing all historical records, field notes, and interview summaries to assess whether there is potential for on-site and/or off-site potential or actual sources of environmental contamination.
Preparation and submission of a written report Compiling a report that describes the past and present land use of the site and surrounding properties within a 250 metre radius of the site, building inspection findings, and recommendations (if any).

In a hurry? No problem, we offer rush environmental services in the preparation of environmental site assessments. We understand the tight timelines associated with property transactions, as we are able to act quickly to maximize the time you have available to consider your environmental risks.

Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessments do not include the sampling and/or testing of building materials, soil, or ground water.

What are the Standard Practices Associated with Phase 1 ESAs?

The national standard for conducting Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessments is issued by the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) group and is referred to as the CSA Z768-01 (Reaffirmed 2012) standard.

This standard is typically applied to Phase 1 ESAs conducted in Ontario, unless the Proponent is seeking a Record of Site Condition (RSC) pursuant to Ontario Regulation 153/04 (O. Reg. 153/04). In addition, some lenders also require that the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) environmental site investigation procedures be applied for residential land uses requiring an ESA inspection for mortgage loan insurance.

A Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment required for the filing of a Record of Site Condition is generally required in support of the development approval process with a municipality, which includes a zoning change, site plan control, or building permit issuance. Filing of an RSC with the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change demonstrates that a property previously found to have contamination, or suspected of having contamination, now meets the applicable Site Condition Standards.

All Phase 1 ESAs conducted for the filing of an RSC must be conducted by a Qualified Person in accordance with O. Reg. 153/04.

What are the benefits of a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment?

Buyer Beware – Provides the potential property purchaser with a comprehensive understanding of the historical background of the site and any potentially contaminating activities that have been conducted on the site over time that may pose as an actual or potential source of environmental contamination.

Lender Beware – Provides the potential financial lender with a comprehensive evaluation of any potential environmental risks associated with the site in order to ensure that the lender is comfortable with lending the money to the purchaser. Lenders do not want to take the risk of providing finances on sites which they can become responsible for remediating should a foreclosure occur.

Pre-Purchase – Alleviates the potential for finding environmental issues in the future, which may delay future property transactions.

Leverage – Identification of actual and/or potential sources of environmental contamination can be used to negotiate the potential impacts on the value of a property and the potential costs required to remediate the site and perform the cleanup activities.

Across Ontario, Rubidium’s environmental consultants have prepared environmental site assessments for a wide range of industries. Considering purchasing a commercial or industrial property? Contact our environmental consulting firm today, and we will help you understand the environmental risks associated with your planned purchase.

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