Under the Environmental Bill of Rights (EBR), you have the right to know about – and comment on – environmentally significant proposals the Ontario government is considering.
To help you exercise this right, the government posts environmentally significant proposals on the online Environmental Registry for you to read and comment on.
Be aware that only certain ministries are prescribed under the EBR and required to post environmentally significant proposals on the Registry.
Ontarians’ comments submitted through the Environmental Registry have helped inform and improve many government decisions, including:
- Plans for provincial parks
- Regulations for managing waste
- The Mining Act
- Guidelines for transit planning
- Numerous water-taking permits
Each proposal notice on the Environmental Registry summarizes what the government is proposing, tells you how you can comment, tells you how long the comment period is (minimum 30 days), provides links to additional information and tells you where to send your comments (see an example of a proposal notice)
Note that making a comment on the Environmental Registry is not a way of casting a “vote.” Ministries consider the content of each individual comment—not the number of comments for or against a proposal— and are not obliged to change their decisions to address concerns raised.
After the ministry reviews all submitted comments, it posts its decision on the Environmental Registry (see an example of a decision notice), briefly explaining how public comments influenced its decision. If you disagree with the ministry’s decision on a permit, approval or other “instrument”, you may be able to appeal it.
For more information on how to comment on government proposals, contact the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks.
The MNRF Rejects its Own Proposal to Kill More Wolves
In January 2016, the MNRF proposed to reduce restrictions on wolf and coyote hunting, ostensibly to “address concerns in recent years about the impacts of wolf predation on moose in northern Ontario,” among other reasons. This proposal sparked an overwhelming public reaction. After receiving more than 12,000 comments on the Environmental Registry, and several petitions with over 200,000 signatures combined, the MNRF announced that it had decided not to proceed with the proposal. The public opposition was well founded – killing predators can have serious ecological consequences and is not likely to help moose.
Improvements to the Requirements for Source Protection Plans
When the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change consulted the public on proposed requirements for source protection plans under the Clean Water Act, 2006, 86 members of the public—including municipalities, conservation authorities, First Nations, environmental non-governmental organizations, industry, private individuals and others—submitted comments. The ministry made numerous changes to the draft regulation as a result of the public’s input, including: clarifying the text of certain provisions; broadening the scope of policies that source protection committees may include in source protection plans; and enhancing provisions for consultation with First Nations communities.