About the process

The Environmental Review Tribunal (tribunal) is an independent body that hears disputes.

You may want to request a hearing with the tribunal if:

  • you have concerns about significant environmental issues around an individual environmental assessment
  • those concerns cannot be resolved through discussions with the proponent that is doing the environmental assessment

You should request a hearing only after you have tried all other options to resolve the issue directly with the proponent such as mediation techniques.

Use mediation in the environmental assessment process.

Make a request

You must make your request for a hearing during the five-week comment period that happens after we issue a notice of completion of a ministry review of the environmental assessment.

What to include

Your request needs to include:

  • your request for a hearing
  • your name, address, telephone number
  • your involvement in the environmental assessment process
  • ways you have tried to resolve issues with the entity that is undertaking the environmental assessment
  • significant environmental reason(s) for a hearing
  • what specific concerns would be referred to a hearing

We may return your request and ask for more information if it does not include all of these points.

Unless you state otherwise in your request, any personal information you provide will become part of the public record and will be released, if requested, to any person.

Mail your request

Mail your request to:

Director, Environmental Assessment Branch
Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks
135 St. Clair Ave West, 1st Floor
Toronto, Ontario
M4V 1P5

After we receive it

After you submit your request, we will:

  • inform the proponent that is doing the environmental assessment about the hearing request
  • provide a copy of the request to the proponent for review
  • receive a response from the proponent

Minister decision

The Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks decides whether a matter will be referred to the Environmental Review Tribunal. You will be notified of the minister’s decision in writing.

The minister may refer either the entire application or part of it to the tribunal unless they feel that:

  • the request is frivolous
  • a hearing is unnecessary
  • a hearing may cause undue delay

The minister may consider a request frivolous if:

  • issues have already been ruled on outside the environmental assessment process
  • issues have already been dealt with in the environmental assessment
  • the request is an attempt to delay the project

Other factors for their decision

There are a number of other factors that the minister may consider when determining whether to refer matters to the tribunal for a hearing.

These include:

  • did the proponent consult adequately with interested persons throughout the environmental assessment process and was this consultation properly documented?
  • were there enough opportunities to participate?
  • did the requester participate in the planning process when opportunities were made available?
  • have all other avenues to resolve the issue(s) such as self-directed mediation been followed?
  • are the issues raised significant, clearly defined and not addressed in the environmental assessment?
  • were other significant outstanding issues identified in the ministry review?
  • would the public interest be served if the issue was sent to the Environmental Review Tribunal for a hearing?
  • would public health and safety be advanced by a matter being referred to the Environmental Review Tribunal for a hearing?
  • has any funding been approved for the undertaking with time limits?
  • is there any urgency to the timing of the approval of the undertaking?
  • does the Environmental Assessment Act apply or is there other legislation and/or other processes for dealing with the issue?
  • has the issue already been considered in the context of other legislation and processes such as the Planning Act?
  • is the Environmental Review Tribunal the forum to resolve the issues?
  • does the Environmental Review Tribunal have the jurisdiction to deal with the issue?

Joint Board hearing

A hearing may be directed to a Joint Board. A Joint Board is established when there are multiple hearings on the same topic before different tribunals.

Tribunal decision

The Environmental Review Tribunal may make any decision the minister is permitted to make within a deadline specified by the minister.

The Tribunal must consider:

  • the purpose of the Environmental Assessment Act
  • the approved terms of reference for the environmental assessment
  • the ministry review of the environmental assessment
  • comments submitted during the review periods
  • the mediator’s report given to the minister that has been made public
  • any decisions that the minister proposes to make on matters not referred to the tribunal

Any decision must be consistent with the approved terms of reference for the environmental assessment.

Minister’s review

Once the tribunal makes a decision, the minister may:

  • review the decision
  • make an order varying the decision
  • substitute their own decision for the tribunal’s decision
  • issue a notice to the tribunal requesting that it hold a new hearing and reconsider its decision

Timelines

If the entire application for a hearing is referred to the tribunal, the minister has at least 28 days after receiving a copy of the decision to conduct a review and issue an order or a notice.

If only part of the application for a hearing was referred to the tribunal, the minister can conduct a review and issue an order or a notice at any time before making a decision on the application.

If the review period has expired and no order has been made or notice issued, the tribunal’s decision stands.

Updated: July 05, 2021
Published: March 21, 2014