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Apply for an Investigation under the EBR

Any two Ontario residents can join together to ask a ministry to investigate if they think someone has contravened or violated an environmentally significant Act, regulation, or instrument. (Please see Acts subject to the EBR.) For example, you may believe that the owner of a junkyard is illegally disposing of tires at night, or a construction company is filling in protected wetlands, or your company is illegally releasing toxic air emissions at a rate higher than allowed in its certificate of approval.

Before you complete your application, gather as much evidence as you can about the alleged violation. Note the location, time of day, people involved, any physical evidence (such as dead fish, empty chemical barrels, etc.), and any other evidence (for example, licence plate numbers, company names, videos or photographs of the activity). If you witnessed the incident, write down what you saw.

If you think the situation is an emergency, call or visit your nearest ministry office responsible (see the Blue Pages in your telephone book). Or if it is a spill onto land or into water, call the Ministry of the Environment's Spills Hotline at 1-800-268- 6060 or 416-325-3000.

If the situation is not an emergency, begin the investigation process under the EBR:

1. Click here to download an Application For Investigation.

2. Complete the application. Make sure you include:

  • Your names, addresses and proof that you are Ontario residents. (The application form has an easy-to-complete space for proof of residency.)
  • A description of the alleged violation. Make sure you identify the law, regulation or instrument you think has been contravened. If you need help doing this, please contact the ECO. You can view Ontario's laws online at www.e-laws.gov.on.ca.
  • The names and addresses of the alleged violators, if available.
  • A summary of evidence supporting your request.
  • A list of witnesses, if possible.
  • Details about previous contact you've had with the ministry or the ECO about the alleged contravention.

Don't be afraid to include details - all personal information is kept confidential. However, if the ministry decides to prosecute or use your information to impose an administrative monetary penalty, you may have to testify in court or provide additional information to ministry officials.

If you need assistance filling out your application, contact the ECO.

3. Swear affidavits. Take your completed application to a lawyer, notary public or Commissioner of Oaths. They'll help you complete an affidavit swearing your allegations are true. Make sure both you and your co-applicant have sworn an affidavit.

4. Send your application, along with your affidavits, to the ECO. You should keep copies for yourselves.

5. Within 10 days of receiving your completed application form, the ECO will forward it to the ministry responsible, or will contact you if there are any problems with the application that need to be addressed before it can be forwarded.

6. Within 20 days of receiving it from the ECO, the ministry must let you know it has received your application.

7. If the ministry decides not to investigate, it must let you know within 60 days of receiving your application. The ministry's response should indicate why it decided not to investigate. The ministry does not have to investigate if:

  • Your application is considered frivolous or vexatious.
  • The alleged contravention isn't serious enough to warrant an investigation.
  • The alleged contravention isn't likely to harm the environment.
  • An investigation is already under way or has already been done.

If you do not receive notice of a ministry decision not to investigate within 60 days, this usually means the ministry has decided to undertake the investigation.

8. If the ministry decides to investigate, and the investigation is not completed within 120 days of receiving your application, the ministry will let you know how long the investigation will take.

9. After the investigation is completed, the ministry has 30 days to let you know the outcome and any actions taken or to be taken.

10. Once a ministry has decided whether or not to conduct an investigation, the Environmental Commissioner and ECO staff review and report on how the ministry handled the application in the Supplement to the Annual Report.

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