Toxic contamination issues are not a new problem. What is new is the widespread concern about toxic contamination among the general public, in business and in government. This concern reflects society's rapidly expanding environmental awareness, as well as a growing recognition of the potentially enormous financial costs of failing to properly handle our toxic waste.
What gives the toxic contamination issue a special urgency now is that `Who pays?' is so unclear. Unless this uncertainty is resolved by law reform, at both the federal and provincial levels, it will instead be resolved through years of expensive litigation.
This report is intended to identify the key issues, setting the stage for the law reform necessary to deal with toxic contamination. The report should be considered `work in progress'. We are aware that the B.C. government is currently considering specific legislation to address certain aspects of the toxic contamination problem and is awaiting presentation of a consultants' report on the government's options. Also, a lengthy study is in draft form before the Law Reform Commission of Canada and, in due course, the views of the Commission will be known. Neither of these documents has been available to us in the preparation of this report. However, we look forward to participating further in the law reform process as it unfolds.
In addition to law reform, education is the second key purpose of this report. We trust that by introducing readers to this complex area, this report will help people in all aspects of the real estate industry--as well as related professionals, government officials and citizens--to conduct their affairs so as to prevent and, where necessary, to solve potential toxic problems.