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ARCHIVED - Treasury Board Real Property Environment Policy

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1. Effective date

This document contains the policy as revised June 1, 1998. It replaces the version dated November 15, 1993.

2. Policy objective

To contribute to protecting and preserving the environment when acquiring, using, and disposing of real property.

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

3. Policy statement

It is government policy to acquire, use, and dispose of real property in a manner consistent with the principle of sustainable development.

"Sustainable development" is defined in the Treasury Board Real Property Glossary.

4. Application

This policy applies to all departments within the meaning of section 2 of the Financial Administration Act unless specific acts or regulations override it.


There is a wide range of federal environmental legislation that applies to the acquisition, use, and disposal of real property. This legislation includes statutes such as the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, the Fisheries Act and regulations such as the Arctic Waters Pollution Prevention Regulations.

The Government of Canada has also made a commitment to implement the Code of Environmental Stewardship affecting some aspects of real property management.

5. Policy requirements

(a) Departments must administer real property in a manner consistent with the principle of sustainable development. In so doing, departments are expected to maintain information as warranted by the risk to the environment associated with properties in their portfolio.

(b) Before acquiring real property, departments must ascertain the environmental condition of the property and determine whether it is or can be made environmentally compatible with its intended use.

(c) Before disposing of real property, departments must ascertain the environmental condition of the property. Departments must also determine whether or not remediation is necessary, in consultation with legal and environmental advisors.

(i) In disposing of property that the department has decided needs remediation, it may be advantageous to have the party acquiring the property carry out the remediation. In this case, the department must take steps to require that the acquiring party, as part of the transaction, carry out the remediation within a reasonable length of time.

(ii) In granting leases, licences, and easements on federal real property, departments must ensure that the agreement provides for only those uses that are consistent with the environmental condition of the property. The agreement must also require that the other party adhere to the relevant federal or provincial environmental legislation and clean up, to current federal standards, real property contaminated during the term of the agreement.


Policy requirements 5(b) and 5(c) do not apply to custody transfers as defined in the Treasury Board Real Property Glossary. However, any information held by the transferring department relating to the environmental condition of the property should be provided to the department receiving administration.

Departments may refer to the Interim Canadian Environmental Quality Criteria for Contaminated Sites, issued by the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment, to determine the appropriate level of remediation for contaminated property.

6. Responsibilities

(a) The Department of Justice Canada advises on the law, the application, and interpretation of legislation and drafts clauses in agreements affecting the environmental liability of the federal Crown when acquiring, using, and disposing of real property.

(b) Environment Canada provides advice and recommendations to all federal departments on environmental matters.

Through a full consultative process, Environment Canada works with departments to establish federal environmental goals and objectives and to develop regulations, directives, guidelines, standards, or codes affecting federal departments and agencies.

Environment Canada also

(i) addresses, with other departments, the financial implications for the government of complying with proposed environmental regulations, directives, guidelines, standards, or codes and identifies incremental costs;

(ii) assists other departments in meeting the government's environmental objectives and legislative requirements by providing services, such as training and information, and undertaking joint activities, such as pilot projects and feasibility studies; and

(iii) provides a window to the public and other levels of government on the federal government's commitment to the environment and the achievement of its environmental objectives.

(c) The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency advises departments on the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, issues procedural guidelines, publishes reports on implementation, and provides administrative support for public reviews.

(d) Fisheries and Oceans Canada advises on and establishes requirements for areas of federal jurisdiction under the Fisheries Act.

(e) Natural Resources Canada advises departments on energy use. It also advises and assists departments in carrying out the Federal Buildings Initiative to reduce energy consumption in federal buildings.

(f) Public Works and Government Services Canada provides environmental services on an optional basis. Its services include environmental planning, training, advice, audits, assessments and reviews, remedial action plans, responses to environmental emergencies, and services required to implement the Code of Environmental Stewardship.

(g) The Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat provides a forum for interdepartmental consultations with real property custodians on developing and costing proposed federal environmental regulations, policies, guidelines, directives, standards, or codes as they affect that community.

7. Monitoring

The Secretariat will determine how effective this policy is, find out how it is applied in departments, and decide whether it needs to be revised. It will do this through ongoing contact with departments, consulting with the Treasury Board Advisory Committee on Real Property, and noting audits and reviews conducted by departments or the Auditor General of Canada. The Treasury Board Guide to Monitoring Real Property Management provides information so that departments can monitor and assess policy implementation.

Environment Canada monitors - in a manner determined by the Minister in consultation with departments - compliance with applicable federal legislation, regulations, directives, standards, and codes.

8. References

8.1 Authority

This policy is issued pursuant to the Financial Administration Act, subsections 7(1), 9(1.1), and 9(2), and the Federal Real Property and Federal Immovables Act, subsection 16(4).

8.2 Treasury Board publications

Treasury Board Guide to Monitoring Real Property Management

Treasury Board Real Property Glossary

Treasury Board Risk Management Policy

9. 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
L'Esplanade Laurier
140 O'Connor Street
Ottawa ON K1A 0G5
Telephone: (613) 941-7173
Facsimile: (613) 957-2405