Drainage Act Discussion Paper

ERO number
019-1187
Notice type
Act
Act
Drainage Act, R.S.O. 1990
Posted by
Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs
Notice stage
Decision
Decision posted
Comment period
January 17, 2020 - February 18, 2020 (32 days) Closed
Last updated

This consultation was open from:
January 17, 2020
to February 18, 2020

Decision summary

Ontario is implementing changes to the Drainage Act, 1990  to address stakeholder concerns and reduce burden (e.g. project delays and projects costs) while maintaining environmental standards.

Decision details

Drainage Act, 1990

Changes to the Drainage Act, 1990  have been proposed that would enable streamlined processes for low risk activities. The Drainage Act establishes a process for collaborating on construction and maintenance activities involving water flow and drainage across multiple properties. It is premised on a user pay system where costs are fairly assessed to the property owners within the watershed based on an engineer’s report. The report provides the design and allocation of project costs for a municipal drain that involves multiple private properties. Through collaboration between private landowners, the Drainage Act process has helped address broader societal benefits such as flood control within Ontario’s rural communities.

Proposal

Between January 17 - February 18, 2020, OMAFRA posted a notice for proposed amendments to the Drainage Act as part of Ontario’s Open for Business Action Plan. Expected outcomes include addressing stakeholder concerns and reducing burden while continuing to protect the environment. The notice proposed the following changes:

  1. Enable a simplified process (through regulation) for minor improvements to municipal drains.  For example, the process could support the addition of a feature with environmental benefits (e.g. buffer, water retention area).
  2. Simplify the process (through regulation) for approving updates to engineer’s reports for changes to the design made during construction.
  3. Enable the development and adoption of technical protocols by reference in regulation to provide consistent expectations of drainage work that protects the environment.

 

Comments received

Through the registry

53

By email

23

By mail

0
View comments submitted through the registry

Effects of consultation

The Ministry considered all feedback received during the commenting period for this posting.  A total of 76 comments were submitted from a wide range of interested parties including conservation authorities, municipalities, the drainage industry, farm organizations, environmental organizations and individuals. 

Most of the feedback from the consultation was supportive of the proposed amendments and reflected considerations for the development of a new regulation.  For example, the majority of the comments made suggestions regarding new protocols, criteria for minor improvements and additional ways to reduce burden.  There were numerous suggestions for expansion of the Drainage Act and Conservation Authorities Act Protocol and for the development of new protocols to address fisheries, endangered species, and transportation issues.

These suggestions included;

  • specific suggestions for minor improvements in addition to environmental improvements.
  • include an appropriate level of public consultation and appeals.
  • caution against unacceptable design changes when developing the process to enable a simplified process to update the engineer’s report to account for changes made during construction.

All submissions will be considered when preparing a regulatory proposal for further consultation.

Several common themes in the submissions are summarized below:

  • Environmental considerations
  • Timely and streamlined approvals
  • The role of conservation authorities
  • The effect of the proposed amendments on drainage related grants

Environmental considerations

Many comments reflect concerns that are beyond the scope of the Drainage Act (within the purview of the Ontario Water Resources Act, Environmental Protection Act or the Species at Risk Act). Some comments sought greater environmental controls due to the potential for drainage to contribute to various environmental concerns. These comments will inform the collaborative development of future protocols.

Some comments asked for a clear Environmental Appraisal (EA) definition to clarify the recovery of costs from the requesting agency while others asked for a Protocol to be developed for facilitating an EA request. The provision to request an EA was included in the Drainage Act before conservation authorities and environment regulations and approvals were introduced. The Drainage Act does not specify what an EA should contain, however Guidelines for Environmental Appraisal under the Drainage Act, 1975  were developed for this purpose. Suggestions related to the EA process in the Drainage Act are not included in the current proposal but may be considered for future consultation on burden reduction amendments.

Many comments asked for continued environmental protections, environmental enhancements to drains that support climate resiliency and an integrated watershed perspective when considering and reviewing drainage projects. The proposed changes will maintain existing requirements for environmental approvals and/or permits. The changes may also support innovative approaches which can provide environmental and climate resiliency benefits on a watershed scale. For example, streamlined approvals based on technical protocols could reducing burden for drainage projects (e.g. green infrastructure) that can help manage flood protection while also managing nutrients.

Timelier and Streamlined Approvals

Faster and more coordinated approvals from those involved with the Drainage Act was a recurring theme. Protocols can help with streamlining agency approvals. OMAFRA will consider new protocols that will maintain environmental protections and build on the success of the Drainage Act and Conservation Authorities Act Protocol.

Role of Conservation Authorities

Many comments referenced the role of conservation authorities in drainage projects and the proposed changes to the Conservation Authorities Act (CAA).  OMAFRA is working closely with MECP to ensure the regulation to implement the Drainage Act changes aligns with the CAA. OMAFRA will also consider the expansion of the Drainage Act and Conservation Authorities Act Protocol to continue to streamline approvals with the CAA while maintaining environmental protections.

Drainage Related Grants

Some comments wanted clarification on how the drainage grant program would be impacted by the proposed amendments. The changes will not affect the grants or loans under the Agricultural Drainage Infrastructure Program or the Tile Loan Program.

A decision was made to proceed with the proposed legislative amendments as they were posted.

Supporting materials

View materials in person

Important notice: Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, viewing supporting materials in person is not available at this time.

Please reach out to the Contact listed in this notice to see if alternate arrangements can be made.

Connect with us

Contact

Sara Peckford

Phone number
Email address
Office
Food Safety and Environmental Policy Branch
Address

1 Stone Road West
Ontario Government Building, 2nd floor, Southwest
Guelph, ON
N1G 4Y2
Canada

Office phone number

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Original proposal

ERO number
019-1187
Notice type
Act
Act
Drainage Act, R.S.O. 1990
Posted by
Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs
Proposal posted

Comment period

January 17, 2020 - February 18, 2020 (32 days)

Proposal details

OMAFRA is proposing changes to the Drainage Act that would:

  • provide the minister with legislative authority to develop and sign off on technical protocols such as the Drainage Act and Conservation Authorities Act Protocol
  • create a new streamlined Drainage Act process for minor improvements
  • enable a simplified process to update the engineer’s report to account for changes to the design made during construction

See attached for the Drainage Act Discussion Paper which outlines the proposed changes.

Supporting materials

View materials in person

Important notice: Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, viewing supporting materials in person is not available at this time.

Please reach out to the Contact listed in this notice to see if alternate arrangements can be made.

Comment

Commenting is now closed.

This consultation was open from January 17, 2020
to February 18, 2020

Connect with us

Contact

Sara Peckford

Phone number
Email address
Office
Food Safety and Environmental Policy Branch
Address

1 Stone Road West
Ontario Government Building, 2nd floor, Southwest
Guelph, ON
N1G 4Y2
Canada

Office phone number