By Terry Lam (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Some common questions that our clients ask us about the approvals process in Ontario are answered below.
General Approvals Process Questions
Q: Are there any exemptions from approval requirements?
A: Yes. Section 9 (3) of the Ontario Environmental Protection Act, R. S. O. 1990, (the EPA) and O. Reg. 524/98 specify the (limited) types of equipment, activities, and operations that are exempt from needing an Environmental Compliance Approval (ECA). These exemptions include things such as equipment used for food and beverage preparation at retail locations, low capacity natural gas comfort heating systems, and items associated with low occupancy dwellings.
In general, these activities are also exempt from needing a registration on the Environmental Activity and Sector Registry (EASR) as well.
Q: Does the Ministry of the Environment (MOE) charge any fees?
A: Yes. For the ECA process, the MOE requires that both an administrative process fee and a technical review fee be included with any application. This fee must be included (paid) with the submission of the application and not after the ECA has been issued. The fee amount is generally determined based on the number, size, and nature of the air & noise sources at a facility.
For the EASR process, the MOE requires that a fee of $1,190 be paid before they will issue the confirmation of registration.
Q: What happens if I have both EASR eligible activities and sources requiring an ECA at my facility?
A: This is a very common occurrence. When this happens, the facility can choose to either complete both the ECA and the EASR processes, or instead submit a “section 20.18 order request” which, if granted, would allow the EASR eligible activities to be included in the ECA process.
ECA Related Questions
Q: What happens after I submit an ECA Application?
A: Once submitted, the MOE first screens the application for completeness. After screening, the MOE issues an “Acknowledgment Letter” which confirms their receipt of the application. In this letter, the MOE occasionally requests additional information or application fees that they will require.
With a few exceptions, a notice regarding the application will be posted on Ontario’s Environmental Registry (http://www.ebr.gov.on.ca/ERS-WEB-External/) for a minimum of 45 days for public review and comment. After screening, the application will be assigned to a queue where it awaits a technical review from MOE engineers. Once the technical review process begins, the MOE engineer will typically contact ORTECH to resolve and questions or concerns that they have with the submission. Once the MOE engineer is satisfied, the MOE will proceed to issue the ECA. The MOE may or may not provide the applicant with the opportunity to review the draft.
Q: How long does it take for the MOE to issue an ECA?
A: The time it takes the MOE to make a decision on an ECA application varies. At present, most ECAs are issued within one to two years of application submission.
Q: I have my ECA - do I need to do anything else? What if I need to modify my process or equipment?
A: An ECA will generally contain terms and conditions requiring that maintenance and complaint tracking procedures be put into place. Upon receipt of an ECA, the holder should review the conditions carefully and make sure that they prepare any documents and implement any procedures required.
A typical ECA does not cover any modifications. If, after receiving an ECA, the holder wishes to add or modify sources at their facility, an amendment application must be submitted. The exception to this is if the ECA includes “Limited Operational Flexibility” (LOF) conditions. These conditions allow certain modifications to be made without an ECA amendment. Contact ORTECH to learn more about ECAs with LOF.
EASR Related Questions
Q: Is there any hard-copy (paper) alternative to completing the EASR process or submitting a “section 20.18 order request?”
A: Unfortunately no. At present, there is no paper route to registering on the EASR or requesting a 20.18 order. These items must be completed on the Service Ontario website using an ONe-Key account that is registered with the MOE.
Q: I have received a confirmation of registration from the MOE. Do I need to do anything else?
A: Yes. Once registered, it must be ensured that the activity continues to conform to EASR eligibility requirements and performance requirements. Certain activities also have certain record keeping requirements (for example, maintenance logs) that must be complied with on an on-going basis. Finally, the registration information submitted must be kept up-to-date. For example, if a company where to change its head office address, this information would need to be updated.
Q: Once registered on the EASR, can I make changes to my activity?
A: Yes. Modifications to the registered activity are permitted as long as the activity continues to conform to the EASR eligibility and performance requirements.