Moving Forward To Modernize Environmental Approvals
McGuinty Government Seeks Public Input On Proposed Direction
Ontario wants to make it easier for businesses to apply for and obtain environmental approvals while increasing protection of the environment.
Public comment is being invited on a proposed model until April 16, 2010.
The new model would be introduced over the next two years and focus resources on activities that pose the greatest risk to human health and the environment. Anticipated changes outlined in this Environmental Registry posting include:
- improving and simplifying the application process
- introducing a new, public electronic environmental registry to enhance transparency
- focusing on businesses or facilities with poor compliance records
- improving standards of environmental protection and compliance.
Known as a risk-based approach, the proposal recognizes that not all requests require the same level of review. The province is looking at an approach that streamlines approvals for low-risk activities and focuses resources and efforts on activities that pose the greatest risk to public health and the environment.
Modernizing approvals is a key part of the government's Open for Business initiative which aims to create faster, smarter government-to-business services while protecting the public interest.
- The proposed risk-based approach is consistent with practices in other jurisdictions, including California and Oklahoma.
- A round table of experts from environmental groups and the business community will also provide advice on matters related to developing and implementing the new process.
- Ontario receives more than 6,000 requests for Certificates of Approval each year. These certificates ensure that facilities in the province comply with environmental laws.
- As of September 2009, Ontario eliminated a backlog of approximately 1,700 applications for Certificates of Approval.
“This is the first step in building a modern approval system for the 21st century. We need to continue enhancing Ontario's environmental protection while improving service delivery to business. We look forward to working with stakeholders and the public to develop an approvals system that achieves that balance.”
“Pollution Probe recognizes the need to streamline approvals for industrial activities. A relative risk approach could help align the process with changing market needs, while maintaining environmental protection. This is a considerable challenge, and Pollution Probe looks forward to being engaged in this process.”
“We are pleased that the Ontario government has heard our call to action and has committed to developing modern environmental approvals that are more effective for business, while continuing to protect the environment.”