Drainage Act Regulatory Proposal

ERO number
019-2814
Notice type
Regulation
Act
Drainage Act, R.S.O. 1990
Posted by
Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs
Notice stage
Decision
Decision posted
Comment period
December 9, 2020 - February 7, 2021 (60 days) Closed
Last updated

This consultation was open from:
December 9, 2020
to February 7, 2021

Decision summary

OMAFRA has made a new Minister’s Regulation under the Drainage Act.  This will implement the amendments to the Drainage Act that were included in Schedule 4 of the COVID Economic Recovery Act, 2020.  It will address stakeholder concerns and reduce burden while maintaining environmental protections.

Decision details

Between December 9, 2020 to February 7, 2021, the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) posted a discussion paper on the regulatory proposal on the Environmental Registry.  Expected outcomes include operationalizing the amendments to the Drainage Act (that were previously consulted on in 2020 via ERO 019-1187) while addressing stakeholder concerns, reducing burden and continuing to protect the environment.

The notice proposed a new Minister’s Regulation:

  • Providing a simplified process for minor improvements to municipal drains;
  • Simplifying the process for approving updates to engineer’s reports for changes to the design made during construction; and
  • Adopting the Drainage Act and Conservation Authorities Act Protocol (DART Protocol) by reference.
  • Moving to the regulation the list of prescribed persons, who must be notified for drainage projects, and that are currently outlined in various sections of the Drainage Act.

OMAFRA is proceeding with a new Minister’s Regulation that will include the new minor improvement process, a simplified process for approving updates to engineer’s reports for changes to the design made during construction and the list of prescribed persons who must be notified for drainage projects.  There is also a  new minor improvement form.

Based on stakeholder feedback, the DART Protocol will not be incorporated by reference at this time. The DART Team will be reconvened to update the DART Protocol for future consideration of incorporation by reference in the regulation.  If the DART Protocol, or any other protocol, is going to be incorporated by reference, the Minister’s Regulation will have to be amended.  Municipalities who want to use the protocol continue to have the ability to do so. 

 

Comments received

Through the registry

15

By email

16

By mail

0
View comments submitted through the registry

Effects of consultation

OMAFRA considered all the feedback received during the commenting period for the posting.  A total of 31 comments were submitted from a range of interested parties including conservation authorities, municipalities, the drainage industry, farm organizations, environmental organizations, individuals and one Indigenous organization.  OMAFRA also considered feedback from the 2020 legislative posting which had implications for the implementation of the Drainage Act amendments.

Based on the feedback, the regulatory proposal has been modified from the proposal posted on the Environmental Registry.  These changes have been reflected in the new Minister’s Regulation. 

Minor Improvement Process

Many of the comments reflected concerns that the new minor improvement process would allow a broad range of projects to proceed with reduced environmental oversight. 

The intent of the process is to support only low risk projects that meet certain pre-established criteria.  To reinforce this intent, additional criteria and project requirements are included in the Minister's Regulation, such as prohibiting minor improvement projects that are in wetlands or that involve drainage enclosures.  Projects in wetlands and drainage enclosures will have to go through the existing approval process set out in section 78 of the Drainage Act.  Eligible projects will also have to demonstrate that the project does not change the existing drainage capacity or erosion potential.  In addition, all existing environmental protections and approvals under other provincial and federal legislation will be maintained.

Concerns were raised about the industry capacity for drainage engineers to meet the proposed 90-day timeline for the completion of the engineer’s report for a minor improvement project.  Based on this feedback, the timeline for the engineer’s report has been increased to 180 days in the Minister’s Regulation. There were also some concerns with the lack of appeals or public consultation for minor improvement projects.  There is limited consultation for minor improvements since, based on the criteria, eligible projects must not have impacts beyond the property of the initiating property owner.

Feedback also included whether adjacent properties that are owned by related individuals (e.g. spouses, siblings, parent/child) could be eligible for a minor improvement project.  This has been included in the list of criteria for eligible minor improvement projects set out in the Minister’s Regulation. 

Process to Update an Engineer’s Report

Comments were supportive of the proposed process for updating the engineer’s report.  Some raised concerns with one of the proposed criteria that would require any design changes to not exceed 10% of the total project costs.  Respondents suggested this number is too low which could limit the number of qualifying projects.  It was recommended that any extra costs to the project resulting from the design changes be increased to 33%.  The Ministers’ Regulation uses the 33% figure.

Incorporation of the DART Protocol

The proposal posted on the Registry set out that the DART Protocol would be referentially incorporated into the Minister’s Regulation.  Some municipalities commented that this would increase, as opposed to decrease burdens for them.

As a result, the Minister’s Regulation does not referentially incorporate the DART Protocol.

Other comments asked for the DART Team to be reconvened and the DART Protocol to be updated.   The DART Team will be reconvened so the DART Protocol can be updated for future consideration of incorporation by reference.  Municipalities who want to use the DART Protocol continue to have the ability to do so. 

Prescribed Persons

The feedback supported the proposal to move the list of prescribed persons to the Minister’s Regulation.  The Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks requested that Ontario Parks be included in the list of prescribed persons.  This has been included if any of its lands will be drained by the drainage works.  To address feedback from Indigenous Communities, the Minister’s Regulation also clarifies that the Council of the Band of each Reserve that may be drained by the drainage works is a prescribed person for proper notification.  

 

Supporting materials

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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.

Food Safety and Environmental Policy
Address

1 Stone Road West
2nd Floor
Guelph, ON
N1G 4Y2
Canada

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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
019-2814
Notice type
Regulation
Act
Drainage Act, R.S.O. 1990
Posted by
Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs
Proposal posted

Comment period

December 9, 2020 - February 7, 2021 (60 days)

Proposal details

The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) is proposing a new Minister’s Regulation to implement the amendments that were made to the Drainage Act under the COVID-19 Economic Recovery Act, 2020 (formerly Bill 197), which received Royal Assent on July 21, 2020.

The amendments enable development of a new Minister’s Regulation which would:

  • Provide a simplified process for minor improvements to municipal drains;
  • Simplify the process for approving updates to engineer’s reports for changes to the design made during construction; and
  • Adopt the Drainage Act and Conservation Authorities Act Protocol (DART Protocol) by reference.

The proposed new Minister’s Regulation supports the government’s commitment to reduce burden and promote economic development by streamlining processes, saving time, cutting costs and reducing project delays.

No changes are proposed with respect to the requirements for environmental protection. Existing environmental protections, environmental approvals and issuing permits will remain in place and will not be reduced.

The new Minister’s Regulation may reduce barriers to implementing projects that provide flood protection with environmental co-benefits such as reduced erosion and nutrient loss.

It may also result in an increased number of projects that include green infrastructure principles by using the DART protocol and the simplified minor improvement process that ensures projects are completed in a more efficient way.

Please see 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 December 9, 2020
to February 7, 2021

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