Beginning October 31, 2011, the Ontario Ministry of the
Environment's (the MOE) new online environmental approval
application and self-registration system takes
effect. As part of the MOE's new risk-based approach for
processing requests for environmental approvals, the new approvals
system will focus on the potential risk that the activity in
question poses to the environment and to human health.
An Environmental Compliance Approval (ECA) will replace a
Certificate of Approval (C of A). Complex or higher-risk activities
will follow the new ECA application process, while standardized or
lower-risk activities will follow the Environmental Activity and
Sector Registry (the EASR) registration process.
Who will be affected by the new approvals
The new approvals system applies to all businesses that require
an environmental approval to operate lawfully in Ontario. Approvals
are required by any facility that performs one or more of the
releases emissions into the atmosphere;
discharges contaminants into groundwater or surface water;
stores, transports or disposes of waste.
What activities can proceed using the new EASR
Currently, only automotive spray paint shops, comfort heating
operators and standby (emergency) power providers are permitted to
use the EASR process. However, it is expected that more activities
will be permitted by regulation to proceed through the EASR
process. All other activities must proceed through an ECA
How will the new approvals system be implemented by the
The new approvals system will be implemented over the next two
years. During that time, the MOE has indicated that it will work
closely with stakeholders to build the new system. At the moment,
the MOE has not announced how businesses can identify themselves as
stakeholders and how stakeholders will be involved in the
What happens to applications that are submitted before
October 31, 2011?
Applications submitted before October 31, 2011 are valid and
will be considered for approval. If the application is approved
before October 31, 2011, a C of A will be issued. If the
application is approved after October 31, 2011, an ECA will be
issued for those activities not eligible for an EASR and
EASR-eligible activities will have to be registered in the
Does a site with multiple processes need multiple
If the application is made and the approval is issued before
October 31, 2011, a C of A will be issued for the site. However, if
a decision is not made before October 31, 2011, then the portion of
the application dealing with the EASR-eligible activity will be
discontinued and the eligible activity will have to be registered
separately in the EASR.
An application can also be made to the MOE for an order stating
that the EASR process does not apply to a specific activity at your
site. This approach will have advantages and disadvantages,
depending on the particular situation or activity.
If you do not have an existing C of A, an order exempting an
activity from the EASR process requires you to apply for an ECA for
the eligible activity instead of registering.
What happens to existing Certificates of Approval under
the new approvals system?
All existing C of A's and their conditions will continue. If
an existing approval includes an EASR-eligible activity, the
approval is still valid and the activity will not need to be
registered in the EASR unless:
the conditions for the existing C of A are modified; or
the existing C of A expires (for automotive spray paint shops,
comfort heating operators and standby power systems, the expiry
date for existing C of A's is October 31, 2016).
If there is an existing C of A and an order exempting an
activity from the EASR process is issued, the existing C of A
continues to be valid.
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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