Significant Amendments to Ontario Environmental Approvals Process

Ontario’s Open for Business Act, which received Royal Assent on October 25, 2010, included significant amendments to the Ontario Environmental Protection Act and Ontario Water Resources Act intended to reduce administrative burden for businesses seeking operational approvals.  Most will be phased in over time.  Significant changes include the following:

  • Potential for governmental authorities to establish a two-tiered risk based approach.  An online public registry will be established for “lower risk” activities.  Those seeking to carry out “higher-risk” activities will be required to seek environmental approvals.  To date, no regulations have yet been released under the OBA and it is not yet known what activities will be designated as lower or higher risk.
  • Businesses will now be able to seek single site-wide approvals that would apply to contaminant emission sources, swage works and waste activities that apply at a site.  Previously, separate Certificates of Approval were required for each of these activities even if they were all occurring at the same site.
  • Director discretion to require public consultation or a hearing regarding any application for approval for higher-risk activities.

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Lawson Lundell's Project Law Blog focuses on updating proponents on issues emerging in the law and policy that applies to the development of major projects in Canada. The focus of the blog is on matters relating to environmental assessment and compliance, regulatory matters and Indigenous consultation.

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