The Ontario government is supporting community projects that help protect and restore the environment by investing $900,000 in grant funding through the newly enhanced Ontario Community Environment Fund.
Funding for the grant is supported by environmental penalties, which are being expanded to cover a broader ranger of regulated facilities and environmental violations. This money can be used to help communities improve the environment in areas impacted by pollution.
As part of Ontario’s commitment to protect air, land and water, government is holding polluters accountable by strengthening the enforcement tools to ensure compliance with environmental laws, and redirecting the penalties paid by polluters to important community-based activities like shoreline cleanups and tree planting, according to Jeff Yurek, Ontario’s Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks. “The enhanced Ontario Community Environment Fund will provide opportunities for more communities to take an active role in the restoration and protection of the environment for generations to come.”
Projects eligible for support through the Ontario Community Environment Fund must be able to demonstrate a direct benefit to the environment and be based in a region where administrative monetary penalties from environmental violations were collected.
Funding is available for projects that:
- Increase environmental restoration and remediation to repair environmental harm, e.g. tree planting, habitat restoration.
- Build resilient communities and provide local solutions to environmental issues, e.g. wetland creation and installing rain gardens to reduce the risk of flooding.
The fund is open to conservation authorities, municipalities, First Nation and Métis communities, non-profit organizations, schools, colleges and universities.
The Ontario government is also moving forward with stronger actions to hold polluters accountable by expanding the use of administrative monetary penalties to a broader range of environmental violations. Penalties that currently apply to 140 industrial facilities would be applied to an estimated 150,000 regulated entities in the province, including individuals, small businesses and large corporations, as well as public entities like municipalities and crown corporations.
Administrative monetary penalties are just one of the ways Ontario is working to deter pollution and bring polluters into compliance with environmental laws. Ontario is also consulting on a number of other initiatives including:
- Modernizing our compliance policy to be more efficient and responsive, allowing us to focus on incidents that pose the greatest risk to the environment and human health.
- Updating Ontario’s guidelines to improve consideration of land use compatibility in land use planning decisions, preventing new noise and odour impacts from industry on residential and other sensitive uses.
- Introducing a new guideline for how industrial facilities, development proponents and other members of the regulated community can anticipate, prevent, and address odour issues that may be of concern to local residents.
The deadline to apply for an Ontario Community Environment Fund grant is 5 p.m. on June 23, 2021. Applications will be evaluated through a competitive process. Successful projects will be notified directly in summer 2021.