Row housesThe Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing (MMAH) is one of 15 Ontario ministries that is required under the Environmental Bill of Rights, 1993 (EBR) to include the public in its environmentally significant decision making. Click on a heading below to learn about the ministry and its EBR requirements and performance.

 

 

Key Environmental Aspects of the Ministry's Mandate

The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing oversees land use planning in Ontario. The ministry's policies help decide what is allowed to go where in the province. There are typically numerous competing interests for land use, such as allowing new housing development for a growing population, siting important infrastructure (like roads and power lines), or approving industrial activities (such as aggregate extraction, heavy industry, etc.) to ensure economic development. All these land uses must be balanced against interests in preserving land for environmental protection (e.g., maintaining various forms of the natural environment, including wetlands, woodlands, and protecting species at risk). Good land use planning policies, which can reduce sprawl and encourage public transit, are also key to Ontario’s ability to meet its greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction targets.

The ministry also has an important function overseeing the Building Code, which plays a role in the province’s ability to meet Ontario’s energy conservation and GHG reduction targets. Currently, only the portion of the Building Code Act, 1992 and Code that relate to septic systems are subject to the public notice and consultation requirements of the EBR (see below).

The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing also leads the government’s efforts to ensure affordable and suitable housing for all Ontarians. The ministry plays a role in helping the province meet Ontario’s energy conservation and GHG reduction targets by making green investments into social housing retrofits to improve energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Environmental Bill of Rights (EBR) Requirements

Statement of Environmental Values

Each ministry that is prescribed under the Environmental Bill of Rights (EBR) is required to develop a Statement of Environmental Values to guide ministry staff when making decisions that might significantly affect the environment. Read the Statement of Environmental Values of the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing (MMAH).

Public Notice and Consultation

Each ministry prescribed under the EBR is required to consult the public on certain environmentally significant proposals via the Environmental Registry. Specifically, the MHO must give notice of, and consult on, any proposal to make or amend a policy or act that could have a significant effect on the environment.

In addition, the MMAH administers five laws that are subject to the EBR’s notice and consultation requirements. This means that the MMAH must consult the public on any proposal to make or amend a regulation under any of the following acts, which could have a significant effect on the environment:

The MMAH is also required to post notices on the Environmental Registry and consult on various “instruments” (e.g., orders and approvals) that the ministry issues under the following three acts:

See the EBR regulation for a list of the classified instruments on which the MMAH must consult.

Applications for Review

Under the EBR, members of the public can ask the MMAH to review the need for a new environmental policy, act or regulation. In addition, the public may ask the ministry to review any of the MMAH’s existing environmentally significant policies or any of the following acts, or regulations under these acts:

The public may also ask the ministry to review any of the instruments issued by the MMAH that are prescribed under the EBR.

The ministry is required to consider all such requests, and to respond within 60 days of receiving the application to let both the applicants and the Environmental Commissioner know whether or not it will undertake the requested review.

Applications for Investigation

Under the EBR, members of the public can ask certain ministries to investigate alleged contraventions of certain acts, regulations and instruments. The MMAH does not administer any acts that are prescribed under the Environmental Bill of Rights for the purposes of Applications for Investigation. However, members of the public can submit an Application for Investigation regarding classified instruments issued by the MMAH.

EBR Commitment Letter

In December 2015, the ECO invited prescribed ministries to renew their commitment to the EBR in writing. Read the ministry's recommitment to the Environmental Bill of Rights.

EBR Report Card

The Environmental Commissioner of Ontario’s evaluation of ministry compliance with the Environmental Bill of Rights during the reporting period from April 1, 2017 to March 31, 2018

Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing (MMAH)

On June 29, 2018 (after the end of the ECO’s 2017/2018 reporting year), the Ministry of Housing (MHO) was combined with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs (MMA) to become the new Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing (MMAH). However, the ECO has prepared separate EBR Report Cards to reflect the EBR performance of each of the individual ministries (MHO and MMA) during the ECO’s 2017/2018 reporting year.

Ministry of Housing (MHO)

Ministry of Housing (MHO)

ECO Comment: The MHO has a relatively low EBR workload. There was little material with which the ECO could evaluate the MHO’s execution of its EBR responsibilities in 2017/2018, as the ministry has never posted anything or otherwise engaged in any EBR activity separate from the MMA. The ECO encourages the MHO to ensure that it considers its EBR responsibilities whenever the ministry’s work could have a significant effect on the environment, and to respond promptly to any requests for information from the ECO.

Category
Result
Trend
Comments
Quality of notices for policies, acts and regulations posted on the Environmental Registry
N/A
N/A
The MHO did not post any policy, act or regulation notices in 2017/2018.
Quality of notices for instruments posted on the Environmental Registry
The MHO is not required to post instrument notices on the Environmental Registry.
Promptness of posting decision notices on the Environmental Registry
N/A
N/A
The MHO did not post any decision notices in 2017/2018.
Keeping notices on the Environmental Registry up to date
N/A
N/A
The MHO did not have any open proposals on the Environmental Registry at the end of 2017/2018.
Handling of Applications for Review and Investigation
N/A
N/A
The MHO did not conclude any applications for review under the EBR in 2017/2018. No acts or instruments administered by the MHO are prescribed for applications for investigation under the EBR.
Avoiding overdue applications for review
N/A
N/A
The MHO did not have any open applications for review under the EBR at the end of 2017/2018.
Considering Statements of Environmental Values (SEVs)
N/A
N/A
The ECO did not request proof of SEV consideration from the MHO in 2017/2018.
Co-operation with ECO Requests
No Change in Trend icon
The ECO had limited contact with the MHO in 2017/2018, but the ministry did respond to a request from the ECO’s climate change team to explain how the ministry would incorporate climate change considerations into its decision making.
Legend

Quality of Performance

Meets or exceeds expectations and legal obligations
Needs improvement
Unacceptable: failure to comply with legal obligations and/or frustrating environmental rights granted to the public by the EBR
Not prescribed for this category of EBR performance
N/A
Not applicable (the ministry did not carry out any responsibilities under this category in 2017/2018)

Trend

Overall quality of performance has improved since 2016/2017 icon
Overall quality of performance has improved since 2016/2017
Overall quality of performance unchanged since 2016/2017 icon
Overall quality of performance unchanged since 2016/2017
Overall quality of performance has declined since 2016/2017 icon
Overall quality of performance has declined since 2016/2017
 
Not prescribed for this category of EBR performance
N/A
Not applicable (the ministry did not carry out any responsibilities under this category in 2016/2017)

Ministry of Municipal Affairs (MMA)

Ministry of Municipal Affairs (MMA)

ECO Comment: The MMA made some improvements this year, in particular in giving more prompt notice to the public of its environmentally significant decisions. The ministry also remedied all of its remaining outdated notices, so that all open MMA proposals on the Environmental Registry at the end of the ECO’s reporting year were up to date. Unfortunately, the MMA’s instrument notices continued to lack information about potential environmental implications, and often failed to include links to approval documents. The ministry should also do a better job of acknowledging and addressing valid environmental issues raised in applications for review submitted by the public. The ECO was pleased that MMA staff were proactive in contacting our office for guidance on complying with the EBR.

Category
Result
Trend
Comments
Quality of notices for policies, acts and regulations posted on the Environmental Registry
No Change in Trend icon
This year, the MMA did an excellent job using the Environmental Registry to inform the public of its proposals and decisions that may affect the environment. The MMA’s notices were detailed, clearly written and included links. The MMA should remember to explain the environmental impacts of each of its proposals, and to avoid using overly technical language.
Quality of notices for instruments posted on the Environmental Registry
No Change in Trend icon
Again this year, the MMA’s instrument notices leave room for improvement. The ministry should ensure that instrument notices include a clear explanation of the potential environmental impacts of proposals and the geographic location affected by a proposal. The MMA should also include links to approval documents and supporting information where appropriate.
Promptness of posting decision notices on the Environmental Registry
Upward Trend icon
The MMA made a significant improvement in this category in 2017/2018. The ministry is also now clearly indicating the decision date in instrument decision notices, which better informs the public.
Keeping notices on the Environmental Registry up to date
Upward Trend icon
This year, the MMA posted decision notices for its few remaining outdated proposal notices. The ECO encourages the MMA to keep all proposals on the Environmental Registry up to date going forward.
Handling of Applications for Review and Investigation
No Change in Trend icon
The MMA received four applications for review in 2017/2018, denying all of them. While the MMA met the EBR’s formal requirements in most cases, the ministry should do a better job of addressing the valid environmental issues raised by the applicants.
Avoiding overdue applications for review
No Change in Trend icon
At the end of the ECO’s 2017/2018 reporting year, the MMA had three open applications for review, none of which were overdue. However, the ECO notes that the MMA has never agreed to undertake a review, making it much easier for the ministry to avoid taking too long to complete a review.
Considering Statements of Environmental Values (SEVs)
No Change in Trend icon
The ECO requested SEV consideration documents for 14 decisions, and the MMA responded promptly in every case.
Co-operation with ECO Requests
No Change in Trend icon
The MMA co-operated with the ECO’s requests for information in 2017/2018, including responding promptly to a request from the ECO’s climate change team to explain how the ministry incorporates climate change considerations into its decision making.
Legend

Quality of Performance

Meets or exceeds expectations and legal obligations
Needs improvement
Unacceptable: failure to comply with legal obligations and/or frustrating environmental rights granted to the public by the EBR
Not prescribed for this category of EBR performance

Trend

Overall quality of performance has improved since 2016/2017 icon
Overall quality of performance has improved since 2016/2017
Overall quality of performance unchanged since 2016/2017 icon
Overall quality of performance unchanged since 2016/2017
Overall quality of performance has declined since 2016/2017 icon
Overall quality of performance has declined since 2016/2017
 
Not prescribed for this category of EBR performance

Key Outstanding ECO Recommendations

In our annual reports, the ECO makes recommendations to improve EBR compliance and environmental protection. The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing has several outstanding ECO recommendations, including:

  • To increase transparency and accountability, the ECO recommends that the MMAH and the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks and Climate Change fully prescribe the Building Code Act, 1992 and its regulations under the EBR for the purposes of commenting on proposals and applying for reviews (2013/2014 Annual Report).
  • The ECO recommends that the MMAH amend the Provincial Policy Statement to prohibit new infrastructure such as highways in Provincially Significant Wetlands unless there are no reasonable alternatives and it has been demonstrated that there will be no negative impacts on their ecological functions (2006/2007 Annual Report).

ECO Recognition Award

Since 2000, the annual ECO Recognition Award has recognized the hard work of ministry staff in an initiative that benefits Ontario’s environment and meets the goals of the EBR. Every year, the ECO asks prescribed ministries to submit programs and projects to be considered for the award. The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing has received the ECO Recognition Award three times:

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