Ontario turns its attention to approvals and water

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A flurry of activity from Ontario, which continues to push forward with its environmental agenda.

With Bill 68, Ontario is taking serious stab at approval reform by bringing changes to over 50 pieces of provincial legislation, including the Environmental Protection Act (EPA) and the Ontario Water Resources Act (OWRA). The existing environmental approvals process will be replaced with a streamlined system and online registry.

Also, by introducing the Water Opportunities and Water Conservation Act, the province is now positioning itself as a leader in water conservation and efficiency solutions. The act aims to encourage innovation and job creation (not unlike the Green Energy Act) and would ultimately require municipalities to develop water conservation plans.

Some critics are already saying that it doesn’t go far enough, given that a successful water conservation strategy requires serious money to upgrade crumbling water mains around the province.

But if passed, the act would also introduce measures to reduce water consumption. And Ontario seems intent on moving towards fixing water rates for users. That could end up financing much needed investment in infrastructure.

Also in the plans is the establishment of the Water Technologies Acceleration Project (a.k.a. WaterTAP), essentially a non-Crown corporation, described by the MOE as “a technology hub bringing together industry, academics and government to develop the sector and promote it abroad.”