If you care about what’s going on in your community or across our great province, you could spend hours browsing Ontario’s Environmental Registry. From air quality regulations to zebra mussels; from bear-hunting rules to zero carbon emissions – you can find almost anything. Ontarians have been relying on the Registry for over 20 years as their key portal into the environmental decisions of Ontario ministries. It has about a thousand users on a typical day, and some government proposals receive over 10,000 comments from the public.
But the Registry is showing its age. Its confusing search functions and dated layout are an ongoing source of frustration to Ontarians hoping to have their say on environmental decisions. My office raised this issue in the 2014/2015 Annual Report. The Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change runs the Registry, and recognizes that an overhaul is needed. To its credit, the ministry is working to find a way to update the Registry soon.
To help the ministry get started, our office recently solicited input from some frequent users, and compiled advice on helpful changes. An e-mail alert service, improved geographic search, and more background information for permits were all high on their wish lists. You can read my letter to the ministry and some of the ideas that were shared here. It’s time to bring the Environmental Registry into the 21st century!