Legacy Sites Restoration Program Cleans up Environment, Supports Good Jobs

Legacy Sites Restoration Program Cleans up Environment, Supports Good Jobs

Posted on March 17, 2021 at 1:59 pm by Bill Roberts
BC, Community, Federal, Provincial

The Government of British Columbia is launching a first-of-its-kind effort to restore oil and gas “legacy sites” across northeastern British Columbia.

This effort will support good-paying local jobs, clean up the environment and restore traditional lands in northeastern B.C.

A legacy site is an area of land disturbance, such as a seismic cut line previously used for oil and gas activities. The disturbance to the natural environment has long-lasting effects on traditional land uses by Indigenous peoples and on wildlife habitat.

Historically, all vegetation on these sites was removed to allow for the movement of large vehicles and equipment. These sites were created at a time when restoration or reclamation was not required to meet today’s higher standards.

The Petroleum and Natural Gas Legacy Sites Restoration program is a collaboration between the provincial government, the federal government, Indigenous communities and a consortium of industry members.

“This new program is one of three aimed at cleaning up the environment by restoring lands impacted by the oil and gas sector in northeastern B.C.,” said Bruce Ralston, Minister of Energy, Mines and Low-Carbon Innovation. “Our $6.5-million investment with our partners will put British Columbians back to work, clean up our environment and advance reconciliation.”

Historical oil and gas development has had a variety of impacts on the regional environment as well as the people and wildlife that rely on it. For example, wide swaths of deforested land make it easier for predators to hunt caribou that traditionally travel these routes, causing caribou populations to decline. Legacy site restoration includes soil and vegetation replacement, providing caribou with a suitable habitat to raise their offspring.

In 2020, the Province and the oil and gas sector signed the Petroleum and Natural Gas Restoration Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to collaborate on planning and jointly funding projects designed to restore and/or reclaim legacy oil and gas disturbances of the natural landscape.

“Working with Minister Ralston and the Government of British Columbia, we are creating jobs, cleaning up our environment and supporting the hardworking people in our oil and gas sector,” said Seamus O’Regan Jr., federal Minister of Natural Resources.

The Province and signatories to the MOU initially contributed $1.5 million to help implement the restoration program. Subsequently, the Province allocated an additional $5 million to restore legacy sites from the $120 million provided by the Government of Canada to clean up oil and gas sites as part of Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan.

The Province divided this funding into three programs: the Dormant Sites Reclamation program, the Orphan Sites Supplemental Reclamation program and the Legacy Sites Restoration program. The three programs will boost the provincial economy and accelerate restoration of the environment.

The implementation of the MOU, overseen by a restoration management committee, will provide opportunities for Indigenous communities, service contractors and stakeholders in B.C. to apply for funding to support restoration and reclamation activities.


Tristan Goodman, president, the Explorers and Producers Association of Canada –

“The $5 million in funding allocated to the restoration of legacy sites will build off the investment the oil and gas industry and the Government of B.C. previously made in caribou and habitat research, significantly augmenting our efforts to restore lands of important environmental and cultural relevance. We look forward to continued collaboration with the provincial government, Indigenous communities the federal government and other funding entities as we work toward accelerating restoration activities.”

Brad Herald, vice-president, Western Canada operations, Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers –

“Canada’s oil and natural gas industry is the country’s leading investor in clean technology and innovation, and we welcome this funding to the Legacy Sites Restoration program as it complements our commitment to minimize land impacts. This program represents a positive extension to the ongoing partnership with government, Indigenous peoples and communities, and will help advance reconciliation while creating jobs as we move into recovery.”

Learn More:

To read more about the Petroleum and Natural Gas Legacy Sites Restoration program, visit:

To read the Petroleum and Natural Gas Restoration MOU between the Province of B.C. and the oil and gas sector, visit:

Find out about the restoration projects managed by the BC Oil and Gas Research and Innovation Society here:

Facts about legacy sites, reclamation
  • All caribou in British Columbia are woodland caribou (Rangifer tarandus caribou).
    • These caribou are comprised of 54 herds or subpopulations and are now classified into four kinds: southern mountain, central mountain, northern mountain and boreal.
  • Of about 25,000 oil and gas well sites in B.C., approximately 770 are considered orphan.
    •  In addition, there are more than 8,500 dormant well sites in B.C.
    • The number of legacy sites is to be determined with the help of affected First Nations communities.
  • The Dormant Sites Reclamation Program provides $100 million to reclaim dormant oil and gas sites, which are wells that have been inactive for five consecutive years and are unlikely to be returned to service.
  • The BC Oil and Gas Commission administers the Orphan Sites Supplemental Reclamation program, which provides $15 million to reclaim orphan oil and gas sites where the operator is insolvent, no longer exists or cannot be located.
  • The Petroleum and Natural Gas Legacy Sites Restoration program provides $6.5 million ($5 million from the federal government, and $1.5 million from the Province and industry partners) to address the legacy effects of historical oil and gas activities that continue to have environmental impacts, such as those on wildlife habitat or on the traditional use by Indigenous peoples.