Canada: Progress On Approvals Reform

Last Updated: May 3 2011
Article by Dianne Saxe

The Ministry of the Environment is making steady progress on its 2 plus year program to modernize environmental approvals. This month, they have posted four draft regulatory amendments for public comment.

Amendments to O. Reg. 681/94 (Classification of Proposals for Instruments) under the Environmental Bill of Rights will update the Bill of Rights public consultation requirements to match the new approvals structure, once it comes into force. It will also clarify which minor and temporary approvals do not require public consultation.

The requirement to classify instruments, and the process for classification, are set out under sections 19 and 20 of the Environmental Bill of Rights. Existing classifications for proposals for approvals under section 9, 27 and 31 of the Environment Protection Act and subsection 53 (1) of the Ontario Water Resources Act would be revoked, as approvals would no longer be issued under these sections.

Proposed Class I Proposals for Instruments

Proposals for orders issued under s. 20.23 (2) on grounds set out in clause 20.23 (1) (a) or (b) of the Environmental Protection Act are proposed as Class I instruments. These orders would be issued to suspend or remove a registration for compliance reasons (e.g., non-compliance with a regulatory requirement, providing false or misleading information when registering, etc.)
Proposed Class II Proposals for Instruments

Proposals for environmental compliance approvals issued under Part II.1 of the Environmental Protection Act are proposed as Class II instruments. These approvals replace the approvals under sections 9 and 27 of the Environmental Protection Act and subsection 53 (1) of the Ontario Water Resources Act. The discretionary hearings provision under s. 20.15 of the Environmental Protection Act applies to applications for approvals under Part II.1.
Proposed Class II Exceptions

For transition purposes, an exception for those approval proposals that were posted on the Environmental Registry as Class I proposal instruments prior to the date that these amendments to O. Reg. 681/94 come into effect.
The following are proposed exceptions to the classification of environmental compliance approvals, where the proposed approval would only cover one or more of the items listed. Generally, these exceptions mirror the exceptions for approvals under sections 9 and 27 of the Environmental Protection Act and subsection 53 (1) of the Ontario Water Resources Act in the current regulation.
A proposal for an approval that would set limits for the discharge of specific contaminants from a discharge point where there is already an Environmental Compliance Approval relating to the discharge point and the proposed approval would not permit an increase in the discharge of any of the specific contaminants from the discharge point would be excepted.

For approvals related to activities under section 9, a proposal for an approval would be excepted for:

i. A discharge of a contaminant from any one discharge point for a total of less than 10 hours in any seven-day period

ii. A discharge of a contaminant resulting from the preparation of food at a site for the purpose of selling the food at the site at retail or distributing it at the site free of charge.

iii. A discharge of a contaminant resulting from operating combustion equipment, if the equipment is not fired with fuel derived from waste, other than wood waste, and is not operated for the purpose of generating heat or electricity for sale.

iv. A discharge of a contaminant from a storage tank or vessel.

For waste related approvals, a proposal for an approval would be excepted for:

i. An organic soil conditioning site within the meaning of Regulation 347 of the Revised Regulations of Ontario, 1990,

ii. Operating a waste disposal site for household hazardous waste for a period of not more than 12 days per year.

This regulation is open for public comment until May 13.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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