Enviromental Commissioner of Ontario - Our Enviroment... Your Rights / Commissaire a l'environnement de l'Ontario: Notre environnment ... vos droits

What is the Environmental Registry?

The Environmental Registry website links you to the Ontario government's environmentally significant proposals and decisions.

You have the right to submit comments to the government on policies, acts, regulations and instruments (like approvals, permits and licenses) that are proposed on the Registry by ministries prescribed under the Environmental Bill of Rights.

When a ministry makes a decision about a proposal, it must post a notice on the Registry explaining the decision, and describing how the ministry considered any public comments in making the decision.

The Environmental Registry is maintained by the Ministry of the Environment (MOE) and can be accessed at: www.ebr.gov.on.ca. There is a permanent link to it under Quick Links on the left-hand side of the ECO's home page. For technical support, please call the Ministry of the Environment, Environmental Bill of Rights Office at (416) 314-4143.

Find out more about the Registry in The EBR and You.

Searching the Environmental Registry

You can search on the main Registry page by keyword or registry number, if you have it.

There are more choices on the Advanced Search page that let you define precisely the type of information you want.

Your search can be broad, or very specific. For example, you can search all of the prescribed ministries for environmentally significant decisions or proposals in general. Or, you can find out how many Permits to Take Water (PTTWs) the Ministry of the Environment has proposed issuing within the last 24 hours ...or five years. And what about that company upstream from your house? Is it asking a ministry for permission to release substances into the river? The air? Just type the company's name, click "Search," and you'll find out.

You can search by keyword, registry number, ministry, type of notice (i.e. policies, Acts, instruments, regulations and information), status of notice (proposal, decision, etc), publication date, location, Act and/or Instrument.

What is posted on the Environmental Registry?

Proposal notices

If a ministry is

  • proposing new policies, Acts, instruments, or regulations,
  • planning to change existing ones,
  • or considering eliminating any,

it must post a Proposal Notice on the Registry and invite your comments. The Proposal Notice will tell you where you can find the details about the proposals, the contact name and address to send your comments to, and the deadline for having your comments considered.

For example, a notice must be posted to the Registry, and your comments invited, if:

  • A business asks the government for a permit, license, or certificate of approval to undertake activities that could affect the health of the environment, such as releasing substances into the air or water
  • The government proposes news laws or policies that could affect the environment, such as new laws about generating energy or burning medical waste

Decision notices

Once the decision is made they post a Decision Notice, which tells you how many comments were made and the nature of the comments. They also explain what impact (if any) the comments had on the decision, and whether and how you can appeal or challenge the decision.

Some decisions are exempt from the EBR comment process. If ministries exempt a decision, they must explain why on the Registry. These notices are known as "exceptions." Ministries can exempt a decision for the following reasons:

  • Emergencies: If a minister believes there is no time to wait for public comments because of imminent harm or serious risk of harm to the environment, a person, or property.
  • Other Processes: If a minister believes the public has already had equivalent opportunity to participate in the environmentally significant aspects of a proposal, or if equivalent public participation is required under another Act, such as the Environmental Assessment Act.
  • Statutory Decisions: If the minister believes that issuing, changing, or revoking an instrument is a step toward implementing what has already been approved through an equivalent process of public participation.
  • Budget Proposals: If a proposal is part of a budget or economic statement presented to the Legislative Assembly.

Appeals are challenges to ministry decisions on an instrument. If a decision can be appealed, the Registry notice will let you know. And if someone is appealing a ministry decision, the Registry will notify you and you may be invited to be involved.

Registry Notice Types

Policies are programs, plans, or objectives, including guidelines or criteria, used by ministries to guide decision-making.

Acts are laws passed by the 103 Members of the Provincial Parliament at Queen's Park.

Regulations are lower forms of law and provide the details of broader Acts or statutes. They only need to be approved by the Premier and his cabinet, not the whole Legislature.

Instruments are permits, licenses, approvals, authorizations, directions or orders issued by a ministry under the authority given to it by law. The government uses instruments to control the actions of individual businesses and industries that could affect the environment. A proposal for an instrument includes a proposal to issue, amend or revoke an instrument.

There are 3 classes of instruments under the EBR, each with a different public participation requirement:

  • Class I instruments: Notice of a proposal must be placed on the Registry for a minimum 30 day public comment period.
  • Class II instruments: Notice of a proposal must be placed on the Registry for a minimum of 30 days, the minister must consider providing more than 30 days for public comment, and some other form of public notice must be given.
  • Class III instruments: Notice of a proposal must be placed on the Registry and these proposals are subject to a public hearing. Third party appeal rights do not apply to Class III instruments.


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