November 2019
Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing Proposing New Statement of Environmental Values

2019-11-19 10:41:31 AM

The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing (MMAH) is proposing to introduce a Statement of Environmental Values (SEV) that will be established under the provincial Environmental Bill of Rights, 1993 (EBR). The EBR provides Ontario residents the right to participate in certain government decisions affecting the province’s air, water, land, and/or wildlife.

Such rights include the right to be notified and comment on legislation relating to the environment using the Environmental Registry, asking a ministry to review a law or investigate harm to the environment, and appeal a ministry decision.

Ministries that are subject to the EBR are required to develop a SEV and reasonably consider the SEV when making decisions. This SEV will replace the SEVs of the former Ministry of Municipal Affairs and the former Ministry of Housing.  

However, environmental and urban planning experts have warned the language used in the newly proposed SEV is weakened. Among the changes from the previous SEV include language that the ministry “will also consider” policy goals like “climate change mitigation and adaption”. This is a change from the former SEV that used language stating the ministry “will support initiatives” related to climate change.

Experts warn that, if passed, the new SEV will not prioritize climate change and allow more flexibility for sprawling developments.

The proposal is open for comments until December 6th. To comment, please click here

Below is a summary of proposals that may be of relevance to Ontario’s local governments:

Application of the SEV:

  • The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing will “build and maintain strong relationships with municipal governments” by sharing governance tools and ideas to make environmentally responsible decision-making

  • Support a regulatory system through the Building Code Act, 1992 that enhances environmental integrity, resource conservation, and safe, accessible, and energy efficient buildings

  • Support a land use planning system that promotes well-planned and healthy communities while protecting Ontario’s greenspace

  • Use “good planning principles” to increase and maintain the supply of housing. This may include the following:

    • Supporting intensification and more efficient use of existing community housing sites;

    • Work toward including energy efficiency as part of new housing development programs, and for renovation, retrofit, and re-redevelopment programs.

Integration with other considerations:

  • Consider social, economic, health, infrastructure, and transportation (among others) that will be integrated with the purposes of the EBR when decisions may significantly affect the environment

  • Infrastructure investment, climate change mitigation and adaption, burden reduction, economic development, energy supply, stronger rural communities and protecting prime agricultural areas will also be considered

Monitoring Use of the SEV:

  • Monitor and assess changes in its activities to review and report on its progress in implementing the SEV

  • Document how the SEV was considered each time a decision on an act, regulation or policy is posted on the EBR

Public Consultation: 

  • Provide opportunities for an open and consultative process when making decisions that may “significantly affect” the environment

  • Recognize the importance of communicating significant decisions with the public through the EBR and use the EBR as one of the Ministry’s primary public consultation tools

  • Apply the SEV in environmentally significant decisions

Climate Change:

  • Work toward the province’s core climate change goals by:

  • Ensuring the impact of a changing climate is considered in policies and programs

  • Help the Ontario public prepare for the impact of changing climate

  • Update government policies and building partnerships to improve local resilience to climate impacts

  • Help Ontario do its part in reducing greenhouse gas emissions

  • Work with partner ministries to consider climate change mitigation and resilience as part of the decision-making process

Greening of Internal Operations:

  • Continue to implement provincial initiatives to reduce emissions and energy costs across government and conserve energy and water in its own operations, as well as identifying other opportunities

  • Use air and land resources “wisely” to generate environmental, health and economic benefits for present and future generations

For more information, please see below: 

Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing: Draft Statement of Environmental Values

EBR: Proposing a Statement of Environmental Values for the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing 

Environmental Bill of Rights, 1993
QP Briefing (paywalled): Critics Say Government is Watering Down Climate Change Commitment, Opening Door to Sprawl in New Proposal


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