The Ontario government is introducing a government-wide Open for Business Burden Reduction Bill, which, if passed, would enact a number of legislative amendments that support government’s commitment to modernize the regulatory environment to reduce the administrative burden and lower the cost of doing business.
This posting describes proposed changes to four (4) statutes administered by the MNRF in order to modernize approvals, create streamlining efficiencies, and bring statutes up to date.
The proposed changes are designed to improve delivery of MNRF's mandate to its clients, stakeholders and the public, and to ensure that sustainable use of natural resources and public health and safety are not compromised.
These proposals are either administrative changes or enabling provisions that would provide for future changes through regulations that would be subject to public and Indigenous consultation and engagement processes.
The statutes impacted by the proposed amendments are the Crown Forest Sustainability Act, Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act, Lakes and Rivers Improvement Act, and Public Lands Act.
The proposed amendments for each stated statute include.
1. The Crown Forest Sustainability Act (CFSA) ensures the long-term health of Ontario's forests by providing for the regulation of forest sustainability. The Act outlines the requirements for forest planning, public involvement, information management, wood measurement and compliance, licensing, processing facilities such as sawmills, and trust funds for renewal.
The Act would be amended to increase the maximum term for Forest Resource Licences (FRL) granted under s. 27 of the CFSA from 5 to 10 years and increase the maximum term for renewal of these licences from 1 to 2 years. These changes will enable a reduction in the number of FRLs that have to be issued, increase certainty for industry, and provide time and cost savings to both licensees and MNRF.
2. The Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act (FWCA) regulates the conservation and management of wildlife and fish resources, including the protection of game wildlife and specially protected wildlife as defined in the Act.
• One proposed amendment is intended to streamline requirements to achieve efficiencies for business, government and resource users. Specifically, this amendment would provide flexibility to prescribe in regulation an additional time period in which a licensed trapper may hunt certain species under the authority of a trapping licence, to align with season dates.
• Two proposed amendments are intended to provide a more modernized approach to administering some approvals under the Act. Specifically, the Act would be amended to:
o Introduce regulation-making authority to address specific protection of property activities related to deer and elk (e.g. harassment). This change would allow for the future regulation of specific activities associated with protection of property from deer or elk, instead of requiring an MNRF authorization for all activities (e.g. exempting commercial airports from some approval requirements for public safety purposes); and
o Remove the requirement for use of registered mail to notify clients of licence refusal/cancellation and allow for the future use of alternative delivery mechanisms (e.g., email).
3. The Public Lands Act (PLA) regulates the management, use, sale, disposition and administration of provincial Crown lands in Ontario.
Amendments to the PLA are being proposed that would allow a person to occupy public lands for the purpose of erecting and using a type of structure prescribed by the regulations, without an individual authorization (e.g. permit or other instrument) issued under the Act. The intention of these amendments is to address specific, low-risk occupations of public land (e.g. docks and other small waterfront structures). A person occupying public lands in these circumstances would be subject to criteria prescribed by new regulations and to existing enforcement provisions and remedies within the Act if they are found to be unlawfully occupying public land. Under no circumstance would the person acquire any interest in the lands.
4. The Lakes and Rivers Improvement Act, (LRIA) provides for the management, protection, preservation and use of the water of lakes and rivers and regulates improvements in them. The Act requires Ministry approval for specific types of construction activity in lakes and rivers (e.g., dams, dikes, diversion channels, culverts and causeways).
An amendment is being proposed which would remove an unnecessary administrative requirement for industry to submit “three copies” of plans and specifications for dams. Industry will still be required to submit detailed plans and specifications for proposed dams, of a number required by the Minister, not to exceed three copies.
There are several other proposed amendments to the same statutes that are minor or administrative in nature, such as updates to reflect updated names and clarify wording.