While a Good Neighbour Campaign is based on communities working directly with companies, there are many times when working with local regulators is necessary — to obtain information, to understand regulations, and sometimes, to get involved.
Most government regulators have their own complaints and reporting processes – good reporting gives them the evidence they need to get involved, or to investigate further. Elected officials at all levels can play a role in helping you navigate the system, in getting answers and they might help you connect with the company.
Role of different levels of government:
The Ontario Ministry of the Environment (MOE) is the primary environmental regulator and enforcement agency and receives public complaints and reports about pollution. The Province regulates emissions to the air, water and land (air quality standards, water protection act and on-site or transferred waste). The MOE issues permits and approvals for emissions and pollution called Environmental Compliance Approvals or Certificates of Approval. The Provincial Environmental Registry allows for public comment on regulations, certificates of approval and more. Other provincial ministries may be involved, depending on the industry and the issue – for example the Ministry of Natural Resources may be involved for industries related to resource extraction.
Municipality – The municipal government regulates zoning and proximity of hazardous activities to other uses, which may include restrictions on what can occur on the site. The municipality is also responsible for local water and sewerage, and regulates releases to the sewer. A municipal Public Health agency may have information on local health risks, the local Fire and Emergency services may have information about emergency procedures (e.g. in the case of a spill on a facility). Municipalities may also have their own reporting regulations – Toronto has a municipal reporting by-law that covers emissions and pollutants from facilities too small to report to the NPRI.
Conservation Authority – In Ontario, local Conservation Authorities (CAs) are responsible for protecting watercourses and waterways for multiple municipalities in a watershed. The CA supports the local municipality and Province in regulating and restricting some activities near waterways and underground aquifers through the planning and approvals process. See Conservation Ontario for more information on what CAs do and to find out about the one in your area.
Federal – The Federal government sets some pollution emission regulations and receives reports and verifies reports on major polluters in the National Pollutant Release Inventory (NPRI).