Proposed Amendments to General Regulation 334 under the Environmental Assessment Act to Support the Efficient Disposal of Government Property.
General Regulation 334
Bill or Act:
Environmental Assessment Act
Summary of Proposal:
The Ministry of Government and Consumer Services is seeking input on proposed amendments to Regulation 334 that would exempt the disposition or severance of government property from the requirements of the Environmental Assessment Act. This proposed exemption would apply to the disposition or severance of property carried out by or on behalf of the Minister of Government and Consumer Services.
The purpose of the proposal is to reduce red tape and administrative time in the process for disposition or severance of government property. Streamlining the disposition process would generate time and cost savings for taxpayers, accelerate the disposal of government properties enabling properties to be moved into productive use more quickly, and allow for scarce resources to be focused on projects that may have a greater potential to impact the environment.
Disposition refers to the sale or lease of all or part of a property, or the granting of an easement. It results in a change of ownership or the granting of an interest in the property from one party to another. Severance refers to the division of a property into more than one lot.
Dispositions and severances are generally considered to be transactional exercises that do not impact the condition or use of a property and have low potential for adverse effect on the environment. Following a disposition or severance, if any changes in use were to be proposed for a property, then the future owner would be responsible for meeting any related environmental obligations.
If the proposed amendments to Regulation 334 are approved, then environmental assessments would not be required for any future dispositions or severances of government property being carried out by or on behalf of the Minister of Government and Consumer Services. If approved, the proposed amendments would become effective at the earliest on the date of approval, or at the latest, on July 1, 2019.
Proposed Changes to Public Work Class Environmental Assessment
A class environmental assessment sets out the process for a 'class' or group of activities under the Environmental Assessment Act. If the proposed changes to Regulation 334 are approved, then the Public Work Class Environmental Assessment would no longer apply to dispositions or severances of government property. The Ministry would propose changes to update the Public Work Class Environmental Assessment to reflect these changes.
These proposed changes to the Public Work Class Environmental Assessment would include removing the requirement to seek a request from or the consent of the local municipality before severing property for sale to a third party. Removing this requirement would also be consistent with the Planning Act, which does not apply to the Crown and therefore does not require municipal approval for severances undertaken by the Crown.
Proposed Housekeeping Amendments
Proposed amendments to Regulation 334 also include housekeeping changes to reflect the transfer of responsibility for government property to the Minister of Government and Consumer Services. In August 2018, Order in Council 1152/2018 assigned and transferred powers and duties to the Minister and Ministry, including responsibility for certain powers under the Ministry of Infrastructure Act, 2011 and the Ontario Infrastructure and Lands Corporation Act, 2011.
Analysis of Regulatory Impact:
There are no direct compliance costs or new administrative burdens associated with the proposed regulatory amendments related to disposition or severance of government property. Environmental consultants and municipalities would need to become familiar with the proposed regulation changes and related Public Work Class Environmental Assessment amendments.
Under the proposed amendments, if approved, environmental assessments for which consultation began before the proposed changes come into effect would be completed according to the Public Work Class Environmental Assessment that was in effect on the date when the consultation began.
March 18, 2019
Comments Due Date:
May 2, 2019
Ministry of Government and Consumer Services
777 Bay Street, 2nd Floor, Suite 2300