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Environmental Site Assessment in Toronto and the GTA

Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) in Toronto and the GTA

An ESA, in Ontario, is a series of investigations on a property to determine the extent of environmental contamination, if any. Typically they are valid for three years. These are conducted in compliance with the Canadian Standard Association (CSA) or the Ontario Regulations 0. Reg. 153/04 and 511/09.,

An ESA helps to identify existing liabilities on a property. It is an essential tool for a broad group of businesses and sectors, including property owners, real estate developers, attorneys, land developers, and more. With an ESA, you can rest assured knowing that you have undertaken due diligence as a stakeholder. Not only that, but an ESA can help avoid expensive environmental cleanups. If contamination is detected and substantiated through laboratory analysis, solutions or monitoring are proposed based on Canadian Standards. Remediation activities may also be required to clean up the contamination so that regulatory requirements are satisfied.


At Fisher Engineering Limited, we handle all aspects of the ESA process and typically associated services, described below, which are: Record of Site Condition, Risk Assessment, Building Condition Assessment.


  • FREE Lunch & Learns
  • Custom workshops for your team at a negotiated fee for this and other Fisher services.
  • More on training and workshops


Fisher’s CALA-certified Laboratories are part of the ESA team, allowing for efficient analysis and helping you overcome challenges sooner. 

The Importance of Environmental Site Assessments

Potential environmental liabilities are one of the most significant challenges in the real estate industry, and they can affect stakeholders at all levels. In such a scenario, an ESA has many benefits, such as:

  • It helps you adhere to the provincial regulations
  • It enables you to identify and deal with potential risks concerning the condition of your property
  • An ESA might be a requirement in certain transactions


Please get in touch if you'd like to learn more about environmental site assessments in Toronto and the rest of the GTA.

Further readings:

What Is a Phase 1 CSA Environmental Site Assessment? 







books on shelf

ESA Phase 1

Examining for the Potential of Contamination


PHASE I ESA, as described by CAN/CSA-Z768-01 Standards, as published in November 2001 and reaffirmed in 2022 by the CSA Group.


This is the initial step in the environmental assessment process. Phase 1 is intended to determine the potential for environmental contamination, and then to establish whether there is a need for further investigation. 


One of the key benefits is that it can alleviate uncertainties regarding the health of the property so that you can make an informed decision. Our phase 1 environmental site assessments in Toronto and the GTA will ensure due diligence so that you can protect your investment.

This step does NOT involve invasive techniques. A Phase 1 ESA concentrates on land reconnaissance as well as research into the site surrounding area’s history. See RSC if building.

Results: If the site has been cleared, the assessment ends here. If not, typically a Phase 2 assessment is recommended.


ESA Phase II

Establishing Amount or Extent of Contamination


Phase II ESA, as described by CAN/CSA-Z769-00 Standards, as published in March 2000 and reaffirmed in 2018 by the CSA Group.


Phase II ESA is recommended if the Phase 1 ESA results show a likelihood of contamination. The contamination must be sufficient enough to warrant conducting subsurface testing at strategic locations on the property. Typical areas may include a property adjacent to a dry cleaner or gas station.


With our phase 2 environmental assessment in Toronto and the GTA, you can get a clearer picture of the nature and extent of the contamination. We generally collect soil, groundwater, and sediment samples to better understand the potential environmental problems and hazards. 

These are NOT highly intrusive actions, in fact, normally there is minimal disruption to the day-to-day operations at the property in question. Usually boreholes are made in strategic locations which are about 4” in width. See RSC if building.

Results: The samples taken are tested and analyzed in our CALA-certified laboratory to confirm whether contamination is present (or not) and to what extent, based on regulatory levels. If the site has been cleared, the assessment ends here. If not, typically a next-step plan is discussed. Sometimes Phase 3 Remediation is recommended.

ESA phase 2
ESA phase 3
ESA phase 3 work in progress
completed ESA phase 3 work


Supervising Remediation and/or Cleanup

Phase 3, commonly known as Remediation, is an option if contamination “above regulatory levels” is found

during the Phase 2 evaluation.

ESA Phase 3 involves changing the levels of contamination to meet the legislated standards within a given


Remediation can be limited in scope, for example, the removal of surface contaminants from an Underground Storage Tank (UST).

Solutions may also be more extensive, for example, if contaminants have infiltrated groundwater systems or if they are found under existing structures. Fisher does handle such excavation complexities.

Typical treatments for water-based sources include bio-remediation (injecting through wells) or pumping out contaminants. If soil is affected, it is often solved via dig and dump solutions.

Examples site remediation include:

  • Chemical Treatment of Contaminants, e.g. PHC, PAH, BTEX, Metals, VOCs
  • PCB Chemical Destruction
  • Materials Recycling in Asphalt

What is critical with any type of remediation is the forming of a special team, including a project manager who will be your prime contact, together with chemistry (lab), field and excavation specialists.

The key to a successful Phase 3 is the development of a remediation plan to meet both legislated requirements and our client’s needs in a pragmatic and economically feasible manner. Our team will work with you to plan the optimal site solution within a given time frame and minimize day-to-day disruptions when possible. We work with you every step of the way!

Results: Once the remediation has been completed and approved, you are free to pursue your desired land use goals.



Associated Services


RISK Assessment

When do you need the Environmental Risk Assessment?

  • When remediation of a given contaminant is not physically or financially viable under current conditions.
  • When the long-term effects associated with a given contamination need to be established.
  • When the long-term management of a given contaminant needs to be established.
  • Alternative to or limited ESA Phase 3 - Remediation.
  • Risk Management Measures.
  • Certificate of Property Use.
  • Certificate of Requirement.

Under certain circumstances, it may be difficult for a property to meet the site condition standards set out by the province. In such cases, the property owner has the option to consider developing new standards specific to the property through the preparation and acceptance of a risk assessment. This is a technical and scientific examination of the nature and degree of risk defined by the potential contaminant effects within the site-specific situations.

fisher file


Environmental RISK Assessment


Record of Site Condition (RSC) 

A Record of Site Condition is a public domain document that summarizes the environmental condition of a property. The completed document is submitted to the Ministry of the Environment (MOE). Once acknowledged, it is made public. The RSC is filed in the Environmental Site Registry

fisher file


When Do You Need A Record Of Site Condition?

is mandatory
zoning changes


Building Condition Assessment (BCA)

A Building Condition Assessment is an inspection and report outlining the current and potential future costs associated with the maintenance of the building. It is often required:


  • For financing or peace of mind when purchasing a new building.
  • As a supplement to an ESA Phase 1.

A Building Condition Assessment, as described by ASTM Standard E2018 – 15 (link – is as follows:


  • Structural and foundation condition survey of concrete, steel timber and masonry structures including the roof and exterior doors and windows;
  • Condition survey for HVAC, plumbing, electrical, security and fire safety systems;
  • Inspect for water damage and/or mould growth; and
  • Evaluation of observations and reporting with photograph documentation.

Environmental Site Assessment | FAQs


The following are some of the commonly asked questions about our environmental site assessment services in Toronto and the GTA:


What Do I Do If My Property Is Contaminated?

If you're planning to undertake a transaction concerning your property, you will have to consider contamination cleanup and control.


Can Environmental Dangers Harm Human Health?

Yes. Contaminations can potentially cause harm to human health in various ways, such as:

  • Consuming plants that were grown in the contaminated soil
  • Inhaling the contaminants
  • Coming in contact with the contaminants
  • And more


Can Contaminations Cause Damage to the Environment?

Yes, contaminated soil can cause various types of damage to the environment, such as river pollution, odour, poor plant health, and more.


Can Fisher Engineering Limited Help With Cleaning  My Contaminated Property?

Yes, we can. We have years of experience in helping property owners and other stakeholders control and remedy their soil contamination.








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