The quality of Ontario’s air can have significant impacts on the environment, public health, and Ontarians’ wellbeing. Each year, air pollution and smog contribute to illnesses, hospitalizations and thousands of premature deaths in Ontario. Likewise, noise, odour and light pollution can negatively affect wildlife, ecological processes and people’s quality of life.
Ontarians have used Applications for Investigation under the Environmental Bill of Rights several times to draw attention to, and prompt government action on, air pollution issues. For example:
- A request for the MOECC to investigate dust, particulates and noise from a cement plant north of Picton helped lead to charges and a fine of over $300,000 (see our 2011/2012 Annual Report)
- An Application for Investigation concerning air quality in Aamjiwnaang First Nation helped draw attention to this issue, with Shell Manufacturing ultimately being charged (see our 2013/2014 Annual Report)
- Following the Environmental Commissioner’s review of an Application for Investigation, the Unimin Mine near Peterborough was eventually fined $406,250 over dust-related issues (see the Supplement to our 2012/2013 Annual Report)
- After the Environmental Commissioner’s report criticized the MOECC’s handling of an Application for Investigation relating to birds colliding with reflective buildings, the Minister committed to doing more and held a stakeholder collaboration session to promote bird-friendly practices.
It has been over six years since the ministry agreed to undertake a review of gaps in Ontario’s air pollution laws related to the cumulative impacts of pollution. The ECO has regularly asked the MOECC for updates on this application, but has not received a formal commitment as to when the decision will be delivered.
The Environmental Commissioner of Ontario (ECO) has reported on a wide range of issues related to air quality, noise, odour and light pollution. In particular, we have reported on a number of matters relating to: Ontario’s industrial air pollution regulation (O. Reg. 419/05); other actions on air quality; odour, noise and light pollution; gaps in the regulatory framework regarding air pollution; and complaints from community members affected by air pollution. Below is a selection of the ECO’s report articles on air quality, noise, odour and light pollution. You can also use the search bar at the top of this page to search our website and reports for a particular word or phrase.