NOTO Keeps Eyes Open on Proposed Regulatory Changes

Sunday Jun 30, 2019

Author: NOTO

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NOTO Keeps Eyes Open on Proposed Regulatory Changes

The Government has been very busy with cutting red tape and proposing regulation changes on several different topics. A few proposals posted on the ERO have raised some questions and concerns. These include proposed changes to the Endangered Species Act, Environmental Assessment Act and the Conservation Authorities Act.

NOTO has been researching and communicating with industry partners about these proposed changes. Here are a few points of interest.

Conservation Authorities Act:

There were a few questions raised about the proposed changes to the Conservation Authorities Act. NOTO has contacted various partners and a few Government Officials to discuss these proposed changes. It appears that the proposed changes are focused on adding transparency to Conservation Authorities. However, the Government has also proposed to consolidate and harmonize the existing 36 individual conservation authority-approved regulations into one MNRF approved regulation to ensure consistency in requirements across all conservation authorities. Considering the conservation authorities play an important role in Ontario's land use planning and environmental protection processes (flood mitigation, shoreline restoration, drinking water protection, etc.), it will be interesting to see what comes from an amalgamation, if it occurs.

Endangered Species Act:

Most of the proposed changes under the ESA that are cause for concern for the tourism industry are primarily tied to the proposed changes to the Environmental Assessment Act. Another key point of the proposed changes is the proposal to give the Minister the power to allow activities in areas where newly listed species are found to proceed for one year following the listing of a new endangered species. However, the Minister will also be given the power to stop all activity occurring where endangered species are found and order those conducting the activity to undergo environment remediation.

Environmental Assessment Act:

The Government is looking to create a one-window approach to environmental assessments by eliminating duplication, changing the criteria to what is considered a low, medium, and high risk project, shortening approval times and exempting low-risk projects from having to undergo through the lengthy environmental assessment process. The Government is also proposing to make amendments to Declaration Order MNR-75: Environmental Assessment Requirements for Forest Management on Crown Lands in Ontario.

This Declaration Order outlines the environmental assessments that must be followed when planning forestry activity to ensure that potential environmental effects and public and aboriginal input are considered before forestry operations begin. This declaration order also explains the issue resolution process and describes how to request an individual environmental assessment when the issue resolution process fails. The following quote has been taken directly from the proposal: "We think that Ontarians impacted by the proposed project should have their voices heard. But at the same time, projects should not be delayed when concerns are raised that are not related to matters of provincial importance or a constitutionally protected Aboriginal or treaty right." This has raised some serious concern as there is no clarification on what constitutes as a "matter of provincial importance" and considering the Governments push on forestry, this could be bad news for the tourism industry.

NOTO has written a response on the proposed changes to the Environmental Assessment Act to highlight concerns on behalf of the industry. We anticipate further dialogue with Ministry officials in the coming weeks to go over our concerns in greater detail.

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