Row housesThe Ministry of Municipal Affairs (MMA) is one of 17 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 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).

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 MMAH 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 MMA administers five laws that are subject to the EBR’s notice and consultation requirements. This means that the MMA 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 MMA is also required to post notice 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 MMA must consult.

Applications for Review

Under the EBR, members of the public can ask the MMA 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 MMA’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 MMA 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.

Pending Requests for Review

The Ministry of Municipal Affairs does not have any outstanding Applications for 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 MMA 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 MMA.

EBR Commitment Letter

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

Please note that the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing (MMAH) has now been separated into the Ministry of Municipal Affairs, and the Ministry of Housing.

EBR Report Card

The ECO evaluates prescribed ministries’ performance under the EBR. Here is the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing's EBR report card for the 2015/2016 reporting year.

Please note that the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing (MMAH) has now been separated into the Ministry of Municipal Affairs, and the Ministry of Housing.

ECO Comment: The MMAH executed many of its EBR responsibilities well, including posting detailed policy, act and regulation notices on the Environmental Registry, responding thoroughly to the concerns raised in an application for review, taking steps to have the environmentally significant Places to Grow Act, 2005 prescribed under the EBR, and co-operating extensively with the ECO’s requests for briefings and information. The MMAH should continue to remedy its outdated proposals on the Environmental Registry, and improve the level of detail included in its instrument notices so they are more useful to the public.

Category
Result
Comments
Quality of Notices Posted on the Environmental Registry
The MMAH generally posts high quality notices. However, the ministry should make instrument notices more helpful to the public by providing links to supporting documents; for example, the MMAH should routinely include links to the applicable Official Plans in proposal notices for provisional consent under the Planning Act, and for proposed Official Plans or amendments to Official Plans.
Timeliness of Decision Notices and Avoiding Outdated Proposals
Of the decision notices assessed, the MMAH posted about 60% within two weeks of decisions being made. The MMAH made a good effort to update outdated proposals, remedying over 85%. The MMAH had seven outdated proposals on the Registry as of April 1, 2016.
Handling of Applications for Review and Investigation
The MMAH concluded one application for review, denying the application. The ministry handled the application very well; it provided valid reasons for denying the application, which was jointly submitted to the MMAH and OMAFRA, and committed to supporting OMAFRA in its review.
Considering Statements of Environmental Values
The ECO only requested proof of SEV consideration from the MMAH four times this year; however, the MMAH was generally very good at responding to these requests promptly.
Co-operation with ECO Requests
This year, the MMAH was co-operative with the ECO’s numerous requests, providing a briefing on the co-ordinated land use planning review and input to a chapter of our annual Energy Conservation Report, ensuring the ECO received copies of public comments submitted on Bill 73, and re-affirming its commitment to the EBR. The MMAH also took steps to have the Places to Grow Act, 2005 prescribed under the EBR.
Legend

Quality of performance:

Meets or exceeds expectations
Needs improvement
Unacceptable

Relative EBR Workload:

High
Medium
Low

Ministry Comment

The Ministry appreciates the ECO’s acknowledgement that it executes many of its EBR responsibilities well, including posting high quality notices on the Environmental Registry.

Of the Ministry’s seven “outdated” notices (i.e., proposal notices posted prior to April 1, 2014, for which a decision has not been made), two have been closed and one is pending closure. Reasons the other four notices remain open include: a final decision remaining under consideration, upcoming third party studies, and municipalities requesting a decision be put on hold. The Ministry values the Environmental Registry and regularly monitors its notices to ensure they are current.

As recommended by the ECO, the Ministry will review ways to enhance access to information for instrument notices by including links to supporting documents.

The Ministry’s commitment to the EBR is reflected in its decision to prescribe the Places to Grow Act, 2005, under the EBR Act.

Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing (MMAH) - Percentage of all Policy, Act and Regulation Proposal and Decision Notices, 2015/2016:

MMAH-Chart_1

MMAH - Approximate Percentage of all Instrument Proposal and Decision Notices, 2015/2016:

MMAH-Chart_2

MMAH by the numbers in 2015/2016
 
MMAH
All Ministries
Proposal and Decision Notices for Policies, Acts and Regulations Posted
8
210
Approximate Number of Instrument Proposal and Decision Notices Posted
Over 55
Over 3,530
Total Proposal and Decision Notices for Policies, Acts and Regulations Reviewed by the ECO
58
401
Outdated Proposal Notices as of April 1, 2016
7
839
SEV Consideration Documents Requested by the ECO
4
194
Applications Concluded
1
13

To view other ministries’ EBR report cards, go to Government Performance on this website and select the ministry of your choice.

The ECO’s full report to the Legislative Assembly on the 2015/2016 EBR report cards can be accessed here.

Key Outstanding ECO Recommendations

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

  • To increase transparency and accountability, the ECO recommends that the MMA and the Ministry of the Environment 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 MMA 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).

EBR Success Stories

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 has received the ECO Recognition Award three times:

On June 13, 2016, the Ontario government divided the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing into two separate ministries: the Ministry of Municipal Affairs, and the Ministry of Housing. Therefore, when referencing previously published information about these ministries please keep in mind that they were previously referred to collectively as the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing (MMAH). 

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