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Table 7 – Horizontal Initiatives

Name of Horizontal Initiative: Sydney Tar Ponds and Coke Ovens Remediation Project

Name of Lead Department(s): PWGSC

Lead Department Program Activity: Specialized Programs & Services

Start Date of the Horizontal Initiative: May 12, 2004

End Date of the Horizontal Initiative: March 31, 2014

Total Federal Funding Allocation (start to end date): $282 million for PWGSC cost shared with the Province of Nova Scotia (The Province of Nova Scotia's share is up to $120 million for a total project cost of $402 million.) Costs outside of the cost sharing arrangements are: PWGSC federal lead oversight $25.8 million, Environment Canada $7.6 million and Health Canada $5.5 million.

Description of the Horizontal Initiative (including funding agreement): This initiative is a Federal - Provincial Cost Share to remediate the Sydney Tar Ponds and Coke Ovens sites situated on federally and provincially owned lands in the heart of Sydney, Nova Scotia. These sites were contaminated as a result of a century of manufacturing steel. The project is in support of the federal governments' sustainable development initiative, recognizing the environmental, social and economic dimensions of the Sydney area. The project will have long term benefits for all Canadians. When remediation is complete, Nova Scotia will take ownership of the lands. Any remaining contaminants will be managed and monitored by the Province of Nova Scotia in accordance with the Memorandum of Agreement.

The provincial agency's website can be found at: The website for the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency is:

Shared Outcome(s): The targeted results to be achieved by the partners will result in long term environmental, economic, and social benefits for Nova Scotians, First Nations Communities and all Canadians. Downtown Sydney will have new land to be developed, which will aid in the rejuvenation of the economically depressed area.

Governance Structure(s):

  1. Memorandum to Cabinet dated April 2004 defined Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC) as the federal lead for the project.
  2. Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between Canada and the Province of Nova Scotia was signed on May 12, 2004.
  3. The Interim Cost Share Agreement with the province, signed on October 20, 2004, provided for interim governance and funding and for undertaking preventative works and preliminary works as set out in the MOA.
  4. The Sydney Tar Ponds Agency was set up by the province to manage and implement the project. Its operating charter was established on August 18, 2004.
  5. An Independent Engineer was jointly appointed in October 2005, to monitor and confirm the engineering and financial integrity of the project as work progresses.
  6. A Project Management Committee, which includes senior representatives from both the federal and provincial governments, oversees all aspects of the project.
  7. A Protocol Agreement was established October 28, 2005, allowing for meaningful economic participation of First Nations communities. Set asides were established for competition among Canadian First nations businesses.
  8. Results-based Management and Accountability Framework and Risk-based Audit Frameworks were established.
  9. Treasury Board granted approval of the terms and conditions of the Final Cost Share Agreement (FCSA) and associated funding for the cost shared activities, with PWGSC as the federal lead, as well as for costs of federal operations of Environment Canada and Health Canada. The FCSA was signed on September 27, 2007, incorporating Environmental Assessment panel recommendations, reaffirming funding commitments and further delineating the governance structure for the final seven years of the remediation project to its completion in 2014.
  10. On March 18, 2009, a MOA was signed between Canada and Nova Scotia to share expertise and coordinate relevant regulatory process.

Federal Partners Federal Partner Program Activity (PA) Names of Programs for Federal Partners Total Allocation
Planned Spending for
2008-2009 as per RPP
Actual Spending for
1. PWGSC Operating PA 1
Federal lead
a. Specialized Programs & Services -Sydney Tar Ponds & Coke Ovens Remediation Project $25,870,000 $2,928,000 $1,678,231
Cost Share Payment to Province of Nova Scotia: $282,240,000 $54,055,000 $14,101,468
Provision of advice to PWGSC on technical issues, historical studies and scientific issues related to contaminated sites.
a. N/A $7,640,000 $678,087 $641,593
Provision of advice to PWGSC on issues related to human health, technical issues and risk assessment.
a. N/A $5,500,000 $243,325 $211,079
Total $321,250,000 $57,904.412 $16,632,371

Planned Results for 2008-2009:

  • Expert and technical advice; and
  • PWGSC's project team, as federal lead, ensures the project is complying with the project agreements, the efficient and effective use of public funds, application of federal standards and policies, and effective communication with stakeholders, using appropriate oversight and due diligence.

Results Achieved in 2008-2009: The design phase of several Project elements progressed successfully. The Project remains on track to meet the approved budget and the Project is moving ahead pursuant to the MOA.

Comments on Variances: The variance in planned and actual expenditures arose due to changes in design engineering decisions delaying several major designs and tenders resulting in a revised construction schedule. However, during fiscal year 2008-2010, there were over $50 million ($30 million federal share) of tenders awarded and there will be in excess of $75 million ($45 million federal share) of tenders awarded in the first quarter of 2009-2009for future construction.

Results to be achieved by non-federal partners (if applicable): The Sydney Tar Ponds Agency, who is implementing the day to day technical aspects of the Project elements in accordance with the agreements signed by the government partners, carried out remediation work for cost shared expenditures in the amount of $23.5 million ($14.1 million federal cost share).

Contact information:

Randy Vallis, Director, Sydney Tar Ponds and Coke Ovens Remediation Project, 295 Charlotte Street, Sydney, NS B1P 6J9 Tel: (902) 564-2543 Email:

Brenda Powell, Chief Business Management, Sydney Tar Ponds and Coke Ovens Remediation Project Tel: (902) 368-0359 Email: