2017 Harvest

2017 Harvest

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Comments received by Ontario Government on proposed Drainage Act changes

The Open for Business Act, 2010 (Bill 68) received Royal Assent on October 25, 2010 and came into force on October 25, 2010 upon proclamation of the Lieutenant Governor.  According to the government, the amendments to the Drainage Act in the Open for Business Act provide clarity, remove duplication and simplify processes that will result in time savings for stakeholders. The proposed changes to the Drainage Act could result in approximately $1.1 million in savings to municipalities through reduced administrative costs.

Comment(s) Received on the Proposal: 6

Public Consultation on the proposal for this decision was provided for 30 Days, from July 06, 2010 to August 05, 2010.  As a result of public consultation on the proposal, the Ministry received a total of 6 comments: 4 comments were received in writing and 2 were received online.
Effect(s) of Consultation on this Decision:

In July, 2010, OMAFRA posted the proposed amendments on the Environmental Registry. In response to the post, four submissions were received from various parties during the posting period. Two other comments were also received after the posting had been closed but were still considered.

1. Amending the Drainage Act

The majority of comments approved of amending the Drainage Act for the sake of clarity, removing duplication and simplifying processes. Several comments called for a more extensive amendment of the Drainage Act.

Response:

The Ministry is pleased that the stakeholders who commented support the Open for Business initiative to amend the Drainage Act. Comments concerning the need for a comprehensive review of the Drainage Act were noted, but such a review is outside of the scope and purpose of Bill 68.

2. Removal of the Pollution Prohibition (Section 83)

Two submissions were in favour of removing section 83 as they felt that section 83, a section which prohibits the pollution of drains, lacked enforcement power and was not used. Moreover, they felt that pollution was more effectively addressed through other pieces of legislation such as the Environmental Protection Act and the Water Resources Act.

Others expressed concern over the removal of section 83 from the Drainage Act. It was felt that the presence of the section still had value simply as a reminder of our responsibilities toward the environment.

Response:

The ministry believes there are more effective tools to communicate the responsibility to protect water resources to those in the industry than a section in a statue that is infrequently read by the public. The ministry currently employs many of these, including the award-winning Best Management Practice booklets and Environmental Farm Plan, a number of fact-sheets and presentations to stakeholders.

Further, the local municipality assigns their responsibility for the management of municipal drains to their drainage superintendents. All drainage superintendents must attend a five day course prior to being authorized to serve as a drainage superintendent. Through this course, they are educated about their environmental obligations when performing their work. Drainage superintendents are fully aware that when they encounter polluting connections into municipal drains, they must report to the local office of the Ministry of the Environment.

Striking section 83 from the act does not change the legislative fact that drainage works constructed under the Drainage Act are subject to other legislation such as the Conservation Authorities Act, the Ontario Water Resources Act and the Fisheries Act.

3. Scope of Open for Business Amendments

The majority of submissions called for a number of other amendments or even a comprehensive updating to be made to the Drainage Act. Some wished to see environmental appraisals be added as a mandatory requirement under the act.

Response:

These comments have been noted, but all of these sorts of suggested changes would have a significant impact on rural municipalities and the agricultural industry and are therefore beyond the scope of Bill 68.

Some of the comments registered on the EBR can be viewed at: Public Comments.