What is the Environmental Registry?
Under the Environmental Bill of Rights, you have the right to be informed of environmentally significant decisions the provincial government makes. You have the right to comment on them, and the right for your comments to be heard.
The thirteen provincial ministries that are subject to the requirements of the Environmental Bill of Rights must notify you of decisions they make that significantly affect the environment. They do this by posting notices on a searchable online database called the Environmental Registry.
You can use the Registry to find notices of environmentally significant proposals, decisions and exceptions related to policies, acts, regulations and instruments. You can comment on these proposals, and the ministry must consider these comments in making its final decision (and explain how the comments affected that decision).
The Environmental Registry can also give you information about appeals of instruments, court actions and other information related to ministry decision-making.
Every year, the ECO reports on how well the ministries made use of the Registry in our Annual Reports and Supplements, including how well they considered the comments they received. Look for the section "The Environmental Registry" in every Annual Report, and the heading "Public Participation and EBR Process" in individual articles, to see how the Registry was used in specific cases.
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.
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 14 prescribed ministries for environmentally significant decisions or proposals in general. Or, you can find out how many Permits to Take Water (PTTW) 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?
If the ministries are
- proposing new policies, Acts, instruments, or regulations,
- planning to change existing ones,
- or considering eliminating any,
they 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
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.
Click here for definitions of Environmental Registry terms.