Introduction of the Proposed Open for Business Act

On May 17, Bill 68, An Act to promote Ontario as open for business by amending or repealing certain Acts, was introduced in the Ontario Legislature. The "Open for Business Act" proposes amendments to various Ontario statutes, including the Environmental Protection Act and the Ontario Water Resources Act. The changes to the Environmental Protection Act and the Ontario Water Resources Act are intended to enable the introduction of a modern, risk-based approach for environmental approvals. Please see our previous article, "The Ministry of the Environment Proposes a Legislative Framework for Modernizing Approvals," for an overview of the proposed approach for approvals modernization, which is now largely embodied in the proposed Open for Business Act.

The proposed changes to the Environmental Protection Act and the Ontario Water Resources Act include a replacement of the requirement to obtain a certificate of approval for air emissions, waste management systems, waste disposal sites or sewage works, with a requirement to obtain an "environmental compliance approval." These requirements are set out in the proposed new Part II.1 of the Environmental Protection Act, which describes the rules for applications, the Director’s powers and duties relating to the issue, amendment, suspension and revocation of environmental compliance approvals, as well as the rules for hearings respecting such approvals. Under the proposal, it will be possible to apply for one environmental compliance approval in respect of multiple "activities" (i.e., air emissions, sewage works, and waste disposal activities) at one site or at multiple sites.

The proposed Open for Business Act also establishes an Environmental Activity and Sector Registry where persons will need to register prescribed activities rather than obtaining an environmental compliance approval in respect of such activities. The activities that will be subject to registration (rather than approval) will be prescribed in regulations. It is expected that the registry process will apply to routine activities that pose a lower and known risk to the environment.

Bill 68 also makes various other consequential amendments to the Environmental Protection Act and the Ontario Water Resources Act. The full text of this proposed legislation is available at: http://www.ontla.on.ca/bills/bills-files/39_Parliament/Session2/b068.pdf

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