2017 Harvest

2017 Harvest

Friday, July 9, 2010

Changes coming to Ontario Drainage Act under new "Open for Business" legislation

Amendment to the Drainage Act to support the Government’s Open for Business Bill

The Drainage Act [DA] (click here to read the Act) sets out all procedural requirements for drain construction and maintenance in Ontario, and is one of the oldest pieces of provincial legislation. The DA has not been significantly revised for more than 30 years. The proposed administrative amendments would modernize services, bringing them up to date with current business practices.

Specific amendments proposed include:

Changes to administrative requirements for municipalities: Before municipalities construct a drain, they must hire an engineer to submit his or her expert opinion in a report. Extending the time limitation for submitting a report to 12 months from six months is proposed to provide time for the engineer to fully incorporate the requirements of other legislation.

Removing obsolete provisions: An older method of requesting the construction of a drainage works called a ‘requisition’ is no longer used in Ontario, so it is proposed that this section be removed. A position called a ‘commissioner’ used to be appointed by municipalities to inspect drainage works, but commissioners have been supplanted by drainage superintendents, so this section also is proposed to be removed. A related section regarding periodic inspections by drainage superintendents duplicates provisions set out elsewhere, and should be removed.

Simplifying processes: Forms under the DA currently must be prescribed in a regulation by the Lieutenant Governor in Council. This proposed amendment would delegate the power to prescribe forms to the Minister. This proposed amendment will provide the flexibility to allow the forms to be updated more often to respond to changing industry needs.

Housekeeping amendments: Various sections of the Act will be re-worded or sub-divided into clauses for clarity, but will not be substantively changed. A minor drafting error in the Act also will be corrected.

Removal of obsolete pollution prohibition (s. 83): An obsolete section of the DA prohibits discharge of anything other than unpolluted drainage water into drains. This provision pre-dates Ontario’s extensive environmental legislation, and the better defined and stringent pollution provisions that now exist in s. 30(1) of the Ontario Water Resources Act and s. 6 and s. 14 of the Environmental Protection Act, both of which have pollution prohibitions that apply to drains.

Municipalities have not had the capacity to properly enforce this provision, so its presence also confuses the accountability for the protection of water quality. It is proposed that s. 83 be removed from the DA. Removal of the prohibition in this legislation does not represent tacit, implied or any form of permission to pollute, but looks to environmental legislation to specify environmental requirements.

Simplifying assessment provisions: Landowners who have drains on their property are subject to assessments levied by the municipality in which the property is located. These assessment fees pay for the construction and maintenance of drains. If an owner subdivides his or her land, the DA provides a mechanism for assessing the newly subdivided lands. If land is later connected to a drainage works, the DA provides a mechanism for assessing this new connection. These two situations use the same assessment process, and it is therefore proposed that they be combined and re-written for clarity.

Public Consultation:

This proposal has been posted for a 30 day public review and comment period starting July 06, 2010. If you have any questions, or would like to submit your comments, please do so by August 05, 2010 to the individual listed under "Contact". Additionally, you may submit your comments on-line.

All comments received prior to August 05, 2010 will be considered as part of the decision-making process by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs if they are submitted in writing or electronically using the form provided in this notice and reference EBR Registry number 011-0248.

Please Note: All comments and submissions received will become part of the public record. You will not receive a formal response to your comment, however, relevant comments received as part of the public participation process for this proposal will be considered by the decision maker for this proposal.

All comments on this proposal must be directed to:

Yves Tremblay
Policy Advisor
Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs
Policy and Programs Division
Strategic Policy Branch
Strategic Policy Analysis and Coordination Unit (Toronto)
77 Grenville Street
Floor 11
Toronto Ontario
M5S 1B3
Phone: (416) 326-3697
Fax: (416) 326-9892