FAQs

The Atlantic Canada Certified Site Designation certifies sites across Atlantic Canada as development ready, creating a roster of quality properties for investors. Our goal is to provide investors with immediate access to data and other property information to bring attention and focus to development-ready, high-quality sites across Atlantic Canada that are primed for investment opportunities. We are Atlantic Canada’s only site certification and network of pre-qualified, development-ready sites.

Properties that receive a certified site designation are ones that have successfully met a set of our pre-defined program requirements commonly used in the commercial and industrial real estate sectors. We developed the Atlantic Canada Certified Site Designation to set consistent standards for the certification of development-ready sites, putting in place all the key reviews, documents, and assessments most commonly required for investors and site selectors.

Atlantic Canada Certified Sites are development ready! Sites only receive this designation after an assessment review conducted by an independent third party with extensive knowledge of commercial site attraction. When your site becomes certified, it is an official acknowledgement that your site is suitable and ready for development and investment. Becoming part of the Atlantic Canada Certified Site network not only helps your property stand out, but also provides potential investors with the key data and property information they need, speeding up the site selection process. For investors, certified sites mean faster turnaround times, quicker approvals, and lower risk, so they can make decisions and break ground on new development projects efficiently. For you, once your property becomes a Certified Site, you know that it will stand out and be ready to meet the needs of investors.

It’s a win-win.

A certified site designation is issued to properties that have successfully met a set of pre-defined requirements commonly used in the commercial and industrial real estate sectors. We have broken the certification process down into four simple phases, which consists of nine steps in total. There is a one-time $500 application fee to have your site assessed and its designation approved once you have been accepted to participate.

Your property will be designated as an Atlantic Canada Certified Site after you successfully demonstrate that your property meets a set of criteria, which includes information like its availability, utilities, transportation access, and environmental records. There are four phases under the assessment. The process begins with a self-assessment form along with a pre-assessment consultation, followed by documentation review and a property inspection conducted by third-party certifiers. Certifications are then awarded to successful sites based on quality score evaluation.

The 9-Site Certification Steps

Step 1: Complete Online Self-Assessment

An initial self-assessment of your property is a required first step in the designation process. The self-assessment is a short questionnaire that collects basic site information and highlights potential gaps in your application.

Key questions in the self-assessment include:

  • What is the location of the site(s)?
  • What is the category of the site(s)? (Vacant Buildings – Industrial/ Development Land – Office/ Development Land – Industrial)
  • Is this a site(s) within an industrial park?
  • How large is the site(s) in contiguous acres?
  • What is the zoning of the site(s)?
  • Does the site(s) have access to three-phase power?
  • Does the site(s) have water/wastewater processing (well water or municipal)?
  • Does the site(s) have access to telecommunications services?
  • Does the site(s) have existing frontage and access from a public right of way?
  • Has a Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment been completed?

The self-assessment will indicate the likelihood that your site(s) meets the minimum eligibility criteria for certification, highlighting potential issues/gaps that need to be addressed.

Step 2: Schedule A Pre-Application Consultation

The pre-application consultation is a discussion between you and a member of the Atlantic Canada Certified Site team. The purpose of the consultation includes:

  • Discussing the viability of attaining certification based on your responses to the self-assessment; you must receive a recommendation from the pre-application consultation before you can submit an application.
  • Initiating a working relationship between you and the Atlantic Canada Certified Site team; establishing a channel for further inquiries.
  • Helping you understand the process and timeline for attaining certification.

Step 3: Complete the Application Form

Once feedback has been received through a pre-application consultation, you will be required to complete the Atlantic Canada Certified Site application based on any recommendations given by the Atlantic Canada Certified Site team.

To support you as you work through your application, the Atlantic Canada Certified Site team can also use the pre-application consultation as an opportunity to assist you in completing your application form.

Step 4: Submit Your Application

Once your application has been revised to address any gaps identified during the pre-application consultation, you may now submit your final application to the Atlantic Canada Certified Site team for review by a third-party certifier.

Step 5: Notice of Acceptance

At this stage, a third-party certifier will assess the potential of your property to meet the eligibility criteria given the characteristics outlined in the application form. Through their expertise in site certification, the third-party certifier will assess and assign a rating to each application received.

The Atlantic Canada Certified Site team will review the application ratings submitted by the third-party certifier to validate the application ratings and select sites for documentation review and on-site inspections.

Successful applicants who have been selected to move forward to the On-Site Selection & Assessment phase of the certification will be contacted and required to pay an application fee of $500 before proceeding.

Step 6: Submit Supporting Documents

If your site has been selected to move forward, you will be contacted about submitting additional required supporting documentation to the third-party certifier to confirm that your property meets eligibility criteria before proceeding to the On-Site Selection & Assessment phase.

Step 7: Site Inspection & Recommendations

All documentation received will be reviewed by the third-party certifier, at which time the certifier schedules an inspection of the site for validation.

Once the third-party certifier has evaluated all documentation and the results of the on-site inspection are assessed, the certifier makes a recommendation for the sites to be certified, which will be submitted to the Atlantic Canada Certified Site team for review.

Step 8: Selection of Sites to Certify

You will be notified of the status of your application with supporting rationale. If your property has been approved, you will be informed that your site is now an Atlantic Canada Certified Site. If your property does not meet the certification standards, you will be informed of what will need to be addressed to meet these standards.

Step 9: Obtain Certification

At this time, you will be informed that your newly certified site is live on AtlanticCanadaCertifiedSites.com and will be promoted to potential investors through the program website.

It may take up to 13 months to become certified. To ensure that the sites selected are geographically representative of the four Atlantic Provinces, each province may have a target quota of certified sites. All properties that meet eligibility standards can be considered, no matter where a site is in Atlantic Canada.

The key site categories of the Atlantic Canada Site Certification are:

  • Development Land – Office: Sites with end-use earmarked as commercial office OR re-development sites with end-use earmarked as commercial office, typically with development permissions in place.
  • Vacant Buildings – Industrial: Completed or constructed industrial spaces that are not currently occupied or soon to be vacant.
  • Development Land – Industrial: Sites with end-use earmarked as industrial space OR industrial re-development sites with end-use earmarked as industrial space, typically with development permissions in place.

There are no limits. Applicants with development land may choose to certify their sites as both office and industrial, certifying them as “flex sites” that can be developed for a variety of uses.

For Development Land – Office

  • Price and Terms of Sale must be provided
  • Three-phase power
  • Must have municipal water and wastewater
  • Letter from the telecommunications provider indicating the type of telecommunications service available or the cost and time required to provide service to the site
  • Independent site: 5 contiguous acres (single site); Multiple sites in an industrial park: total of 5 acres across all sites being certified
  • Letter from municipality confirming the property is zoned for commercial use
  • Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) Phase 1 complete. If the results of a Phase 1 ESA require a Phase 2 ESA, that will need to be completed before certification is granted. The certification would be based on either a clean Phase 2 review or, if issues are revealed, a plan for remediation including anticipated costs.
  • The site must have existing frontage and access from a public right-of-way
  • The application must be endorsed by a planning official of the applicable provincial, municipal, or regional economic development organization or delegate

Vacant Buildings – Industrial

  • Price and Terms of Sale must be provided
  • Three-phase power
  • Access to water/wastewater processing
  • Letter from the telecommunications provider indicating the type of telecommunications service available or the cost and time required to provide service to the site
  • 20,000 sq. ft.
  • Letter from municipality confirming the property is zoned for industrial use
  • Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) Phase 1 complete. If the results of a Phase 1 ESA require a Phase 2 ESA, that will need to be completed before certification is granted. The certification would be based on either a clean Phase 2 review or, if issues are revealed, a plan for remediation including anticipated costs.
  • The site must have existing frontage and access from a public right-of-way
  • The application must be endorsed by the applicable provincial, municipal, or regional economic development organization

Development Land – Industrial

  • Price and Terms of Sale must be provided
  • Three-phase power
  • Access to water/wastewater processing
  • Letter from the telecommunications provider indicating the type of telecommunications service available or the cost and time required to provide service to the site
  • Independent site: 10 contiguous acres (single site); Multiple sites in an industrial park: total of 10 contiguous acres across all sites being certified
  • Letter from municipality confirming the property is zoned for industrial use
  • Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) Phase 1 complete. If the results of a Phase 1 ESA require a Phase 2 ESA, that will need to be completed before certification is granted. The certification would be based on either a clean Phase 2 review or, if issues are revealed, a plan for remediation including anticipated costs.
  • The site must have existing frontage and access from a public right-of-way
  • The application must be endorsed by the applicable provincial, municipal, or regional economic development organization

For Application Rating, we rely on a third-party certifier to assess and assign a rating to each application received based on the potential for a site to meet the eligibility criteria given the characteristics outlined in the application form.

For application selection, we rely on our Atlantic Canada Certified Site team, which is made up of representatives from across Atlantic Canada. They review the application ratings submitted by the third-party certifier and will select sites based on the certifier’s ratings and the target quotas for each Province.

To ensure that the sites selected are geographically representative of the four Atlantic Provinces (Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador), each province may have a target quota of certified sites. This quota will be determined by the program oversight body and can be based on the current distribution of the Atlantic Trade and Investment Growth Strategy (ATIGS) funding or the approximate population distribution.

We’re here to help. Please fill out this form to find out how you can become an Atlantic Canada Certified Site today!

This is not a real estate listing service. This program features properties that have received the Certified Site designation as a denotation they have completed a set of program requirements to demonstrate that the property is primed for development and ready for investment.

The program operates outside of any commissions which may be negotiated between commercial realtors and property owners/buyers.

As a broker, you would negotiate with the seller what your commission would be, and what you would offer a cooperating broker (buyers’ agent). If it’s an exclusive listing, there may be no cooperating broker fee.

The program can be advantageous to brokers, as it reduces the potential for surprises (e.g. a listing that turns out to be a “dirty” site that is unsellable), and it provides brokers with valuable info on sites that are known to be true. It could be a useful tool for them to use for marketing or finding sites for clients looking to buy.

No, the targets focus on out of region investors. The marketing program will focus on reaching site selectors and prospective investors around the globe.

The certified sites are promoted to international site selection consultants and potential investors to complement the existing marketing efforts of the landowner, local community and real estate professionals.

The site would be certified for two years.

Properties that receive the designation can make use of the logo from the cut sheet on their marketing materials and website.

A recorded version of the webinar is available to view here!

Please contact a representative of your local economic development agency for more details, information, or a customized presentation about the program.

  1. Brad Mix, Prince Edward Island, 902.368.5957 bdmix@gov.pe.ca
  2. Michelle Cluett-Fizzard, Newfoundland and Labrador, 709.729.1619 mcluett@gov.nl.ca
  3. Steven Milbury, New Brunswick, 506.470.3710 Steve.Milbury@onbcanada.ca
  4. David Thomas, Nova Scotia, 902.414.2561 dthomas@nsbi.ca

The AACBDC serves the role of the Program Manager, specifically overseeing the implementation and management of this program.

The program was developed in collaboration with industry experts and with a view of best practices from similar programs offered in other Canadian and US jurisdictions. Also, we did engage landowners, developers, commercial realtors and industry experts during the feasibility and design stages of the program.

While the application for certification is between the program and the landowner, it is up to the landowner if they would like to engage an external party to assist in the preparation.

The launch of the Atlantic Canada Site Certification Program is in two phases. Phase one is focusing on landowners within the region and having their properties certified. Phase two is the promotion of these properties to investors around the globe. With that said, we are currently working through a marketing plan that will outline how the sites will be promoted to investors around the world. Also, contained with that plan will be key target sectors, tactics and regions that we will be focusing on with our promotional efforts. Once completed, the information will be shared with the program stakeholders and site owners.

It’s common to market land with the clause, “land to be subdivided by the seller before closing”. Typically, we expect this will be acceptable for certification, and may even be preferable because it allows some flexibility to negotiate how much land and the exact location on the full site, is purchased. Landowners should contact the program coordinator to determine if their site would qualify for a Certified Site Designation under these circumstances. For certification, the boundaries of the expected subdivided parcel must be plotted on the map, and it must be clear to potential investors what was inspected/certified.

Yes, landowners would need a plan in place, with a cost estimate, so that potential buyers can weigh their total anticipated costs when deciding where to purchase.

The program is not an industrial park focused program. With respect to primetime downtown development sites less than 5 acres, they would unfortunately not be the initial focus of the program. In saying that, as the program progresses it may be something that the committee does consider at a later date.

If a site becomes smaller than 10 acres or 5 acres at any point, the landowner must notify the program coordinator of this change and it will be reviewed and a determination would be made on whether the properties remain certified.

If a site becomes smaller than 10 acres or 5 acres at any point, the landowner must notify the program coordinator of this change and it will be reviewed and a determination would be made on whether the properties remain certified.

The requirement is that water/wastewater is or can be available to the site; it does not have to be municipally serviced, nor do the services have to be in place. However, if they are not currently in place, a plan, including estimated costs, must be provided so that potential buyers have a solid understanding of what the full costs of the land are, and can be confident that the site is development ready.

Water servicing does not need to be municipal, quasi-government water is okay.

An Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) determines whether a particular site may be contaminated as a result of previous land uses. Phase I ESAs are required for certification in order to provide a level of confidence surrounding site quality and development-readiness.

ESAs are not to be confused with Environmental Assessments (EA), which are used to predict the environmental impacts of proposed initiatives (not yet determined at the time of certification) and are therefore not required for site certification.

Existing ESAs up to 5 years old can be submitted in a site application. However, the more recent an ESA, the better.

If an existing ESA was completed more than 5 years from the date of application, or at the discretion of the Program, Applicants may be required to obtain a “Letter of Reliance” from the environmental consultant who authored the ESA report stating that it remains in good standing and conditions have not materially changed.

In order to obtain an Environmental Site Assessment (ESA), you must contract an accredited environmental consultant. The environmental consultant will review your site / site history for evidence of potential contamination and compile a Phase I ESA report. If the report does not identify the need for a Phase II ESA, a Phase II ESA will not be required. A Phase I ESA can take up to 2 months for the environmental consultant to complete.

The cost of a Phase I ESA varies, though typically falls within the range of $3,000 to $5,000. The process of obtaining a “Letter of Reliance” on an existing ESA is less expensive, with fees typically in the range of $500 to $1000.

For more information, please contact your provincial representative:

David Thomas

Nova Scotia
902.414.2561
send email

Steven Milbury

New Brunswick
506.470.3710
send email

Brad Mix

Prince Edward Island
902.368.5957
send email

Michelle Cluett-Fizzard

Newfoundland and Labrador
709.729.1619
send email