The thing with property…

The thing with property…

Many corporate transactions will include an element of real property in the deal.

And while verifying ownership and any related liens (amongst other things) is an important part of the due diligence process, to be really effective one needs to dig even further in order to ensure that a deal isn’t unexpectedly thrown off track or, even worse, that a purchaser is saddled with additional costs.


With the constant and rapid expansion of our urban areas, we have become accustomed to seeing entire neighbourhoods change, from older houses undergoing facelifts to commercial properties being transformed into dwellings. While soil and ground contaminations are often found near previous industrial sites, even smaller operations such as dry cleaners can be a significant source of damage. In many cases the affected area can be fairly removed from the originating site, due to topography, ground water flow and other factors.As a result, the need for effective Environmental Searches is an important item to add to your transactional checklist. 


Environmental cleanup operations can be costly, and can be borne by anyone who has been tied to the land – past and present owners/investors included.According to a recent CBC report, the Federal government has approximately 10,000 sites requiring some level of remediation – at a cost of $ 7 billion. This equates to roughly $ 700,000 per site – a costly exercise indeed. A tribunal also ruled that once issued with a cleanup order, the affected party is required to proceed with the required remediation, adding that there is no limit with respect to costs. With this in mind, the following is a high level guide to the different search types available in Ontario.


Ministry of Environment Search
A search with the Ministry of Environment to identify any Environmental Concerns, orders, spills, investigations/prosecutions and/or waste generators with respect to a particular piece of land. 

Record of Site Conditions Search
A search indicating any Record of Site Conditions which have been reported (also known as Brownfields search). It is typically used to identify any potential contamination to past industrial/commercial sites prior to redevelopment for a different use. 

Environmental Compliance Search
A search which provides information on contaminant discharges in water or air emissions that exceed limits found in legislation, environmental approvals, orders and/or policies/guidelines. 

Environmental Penalty Search
A search to identify monetary penalties that may have been imposed by the Ministry of the Environment, it is based upon an annual report published in March listing Environmental Penalties issued in the previous calendar year. 

Environmental Registry Search
A search of environmental proposals and decisions made by the Ontario government. It contains public notices on environmental matters being proposed by all government ministries covered by the Environmental Bill of Rights. The public notices may contain information about proposed new laws, regulations, policies and programs, including proposals to change or eliminate existing ones. 

Environmental Approvals Search
A search for Environmental Compliance Approvals, Renewable Energy Approvals and registrations on the Environmental Activity & Sector Registry. 

Environmental Real Estate Title Search
A historical title search going back to the original Crown lands in order to identify owners, registered lessees and any environmental notices 

These and other additional environmental searches not listed above are all now available via our Due Diligence service.

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