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Bill 68, the Open for Business Act, has received Royal Assent. Schedule 7 of the Act makes major changes to a range of Ministry  of the Environment statutes. Most will be phased in over time.

For example, the Environmental Protection Act has received major amendments. A new Permit by Rule approval system should eventually slash delays in obtaining routine approvals for routine activities with known environmental risks.

Sections 9 and 27 of the Act are amended to replace air and waste certificate of approval requirements with a new “environmental compliance approval”. For lower-risk activities, to be prescribed, self-registration will eventually take the place of an environmental compliance approval.

A new Part II.1 of the Act sets new rules for environmental compliance approvals. Sections 20.2 and 20.3 set out rules with respect to applications for approval to engage in the activities mentioned in sections 9 and 27 of the Act and section 53 of the Ontario Water Resources Act. Sections 20.4 and 20.5 establish the process for periodic reviews of environmental compliance approvals. The Part also establishes the powers and duties of the Director and other rules relating to the issue, amendment, suspension and revocation of environmental compliance approvals and hearings respecting decisions made by the Director on applications under the Part (see sections 20.6 to 20.18).

Part II.2 of the Act establishes the Environmental Activity and Sector Registry. Instead of the current permit system, people and businesses will be able to self-register their intention to carry out low risk activities. Once the Director confirms that the registration is filed, the people and businesses will be able to carry on, provided they follow prescribed rules for the particular activity. The Part sets out requirements relating to registrations, including how a registration is required to be maintained and updated and how a registration may be suspended or removed from the Registry (see sections 20.22 to 20.24).

New section 157.4 allows a provincial officer to give a notice to a person who is engaging in an activity prescribed by the regulations for the purposes of subsection 20.21 (1), stating that the provincial officer reasonably believes that the person is contravening or has contravened the regulations made for the purposes of Part II.2. The provincial officer may require the person to carry out specified measures within a specified time period.

New section 182.3 allows for a provincial officer or the Director to issue an order requiring a person to pay an administrative penalty for failure to comply with specified requirements under Parts II.1 and II.2 or a notice under section 157.4.

Various consequential amendments are made to the Act to reflect the addition of Parts II.1 and II.2. Various regulation making powers relating to Parts II.1 and II.2 are also added.

Ontario Water Resources Act

Section 53 of the Act is amended to eliminate the requirement to obtain an approval under that section and to instead require a person engaging in an activity mentioned in that section to ob- tain an environmental compliance approval under the Environmental Protection Act. Subject to specified exceptions, this requirement to obtain an environmental compliance approval does not apply if the activity has been prescribed by the regulations as an activity in respect of which a registration under Part II.2 of the Environmental Protection Act is required. Various consequential amendments are also made to the Act.

Waste Management Act, 1992

The Act is repealed.

Waterfront Regeneration Trust Agency Act, 1992

The Act is repealed. Any property held by the Agency that has not been disposed of on the day the provision repealing the Act comes into force vests in the Crown.

Other Amendments

Consequential amendments are made to various Acts to reflect the addition of Parts II.1 and II.2 to the Environmental Protection Act.

The Environmental Assessment Act, the Environmental Protection Act and the Ontario Water Resources Act are amended to provide that any document may be incorporated by reference in regulations made under those Acts.

New provisions are added to the Environmental Protection Act (see section 157.0.1) and the Ontario Water Resources Act (see section 15.0.1) to provide that a provincial officer may, for the purposes of determining compliance of a person with the Act or the regulations, require the person to respond to reasonable inquiries.

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