Ontario has announced amendments of the Environmental Protection Act (“EPA”) to eliminate the requirement to obtain a Certificate of Approval or Provisional Certificate of Approval and to instead require that persons engaged in prescribed activities obtain an Environmental Compliance Approval.

However, an Environmental Compliance Approval will not be required for activities prescribed by regulation as activities in respect of which a registration under the EPA is necessary. In other words, for certain low-risk matters a registration rather an approval will suffice for compliance purposes.

Similar amendments have been made to the Ontario Water Resources Act. Existing Certificates of Approval are grandfathered into the system. Activities which would have required amendments to the Certificates of Approval will now be processed as applications for Environmental Compliance Approvals.

Eligible for registration on the registry, and not requiring an Environmental Compliance Approval, will be the following:

  • automotive spray paint shops
  • comfort heating providers
  • emergency power operations

For those requiring Environmental Compliance Approvals, an online application form and supporting online tools will be available, intended to make it easier for business to comply and to streamline the process. Features will include:

  • a single electronic smart form for multiple activities 
  • help to fill out and submit a complete application
  • confirmation to let an applicant know when its application is complete
  • online tracking of approvals

The new system comes into effect October 31, 2011. It is intended to reflect a risk-based approach to environmental approvals. It is designed to allow government to focus on environmental protection as well as to make the process more effective and user-friendly for businesses.

For more information see:

www.ontla.on.ca/bills/bills-files/39_Parliament/Session2/b068.pdf 

and

 http://www.ene.gov.on.ca/environment/en/industry/assessment_and_approvals/modernization_of_approvals/STDPROD_075525.html