Frequently Asked Questions

General Information

How to File an Appeal/Application

An Appeal in My Neighbourhood

ERT Decisions

Media

The Citizen Liaison Office

General Information

What is the role of the ERT?

The Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) is established by the Environmental Review Tribunal Act, 2000. The ERT hears applications and appeals under different provincial legislation and related land use plans including:

  • Clean Water Act, 2006
  • Climate Change Mitigation and Low-carbon Economy Act, 2016
  • Environmental Assessment Act
  • Environmental Bill of Rights, 1993
  • Environmental Protection Act
  • Greenbelt Act, 2005
  • Greenbelt Plan
  • Nutrient Management Act, 2002
  • Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Act, 2001
  • Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan
  • Ontario Water Resources Act
  • Pesticides Act
  • Resource Recovery and Circular Economy Act, 2016
  • Safe Drinking Water Act, 2002
  • Toxics Reduction Act, 2009 
  • Waste Diversion Transition Act, 2016

What is the role of the Niagara Escarpment Hearing Office?

The ERT also acts as the hearing officer and holds hearings under the Niagara Escarpment Planning and Development Act. Hearings may relate to an appeal from a decision by the Niagara Escarpment Commission (NEC) on an application for a development permit or may relate to Niagara Escarpment Plan amendment matters.

What is the Office of Consolidated Hearings?

The ERT also acts as the Office of Consolidated Hearings (OCH). The Consolidated Hearings Act allows that an undertaking that does or may require a hearing to be held by more than one tribunal to be heard in a combined proceeding. This is called a Joint Board. A proponent can give notice to the Registrar of the ERT that they would like a joint board to hear the matter. The Consolidated Hearings Act identifies the provincial legislation where a joint board can be established. A Joint Board may have one or more members of either or both of the Environmental Review Tribunal and the Ontario Municipal Board.

 

How to File an Appeal/Application

How do I file an appeal/application to the ERT?

Depending on the appeal/application type, you may have to file directly to the ERT or with another government office. Please check your documents carefully to ensure that you file your appeal/application with the correct office. When filing directly with the ERT, you may file your appeal/application by using E-File or you can write to the Tribunal. When filing your appeal/application please ensure that you provide all the information that is required. You should refer to the document you wish to appeal and you can visit the ERT website and review the appropriate Guide to learn what must accompany your appeal/application.

What are the appeal/application deadlines?

The deadlines depend on the type of appeal. For your deadline, review the ERT’s Guide on your type of appeal.

Do I have to hire a lawyer to appear before the ERT?

You can represent yourself at a hearing or you can have someone else represent you. If you choose a representative, then you must give him/her signed written authorization. A representative, who can be either a lawyer or non-lawyer, must be authorized under the Law Society Act, that is, must be licensed or exempt under the Act or by-laws. There is an exemption that allows for persons who are not in the business of providing legal services to occasionally provide assistance to a friend or relative for no fee. For information on licensing and exemptions please refer to the Law Society of Upper Canada’s website.

How much does it cost to file an appeal?

There is no cost to file an appeal or application with the ERT.

 

An Appeal in My Neighbourhood

Can I attend a hearing about a matter in my neighbourhood?

ERT hearings are open to the public unless ordered otherwise by the Tribunal.

Can I participate in an ERT hearing even if I don’t appeal?

A person or group may want to take an active part in the hearing process. If you are not an appellant or a recognized party e.g., an applicant, Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change, or approval holder, you will have to ask the ERT to participate in the hearing process. You can ask to take part in the hearing process by requesting party, participant or presenter status. The request should be made in writing to the ERT before the pre-hearing conference. You will also have to attend the pre-hearing conference and make your request in person. The Member(s) will make a decision on all requests to participate. You may also attend and observe the hearing without taking an active role.

The difference between the roles of a party, participant and presenter are outlined below.

What is the role of a party?

A party may:

  1. bring motions;
  2. be a witness at the Hearing;
  3. be questioned by the Parties;
  4. call witnesses at the Hearing;
  5. cross-examine witnesses;
  6. make submissions to the Tribunal, including final argument;
  7. receive copies of all documents exchanged or filed by the Parties;
  8. participate in a mediation;
  9. attend site visits; and
  10. claim costs or be liable to pay costs where permitted by law.

What is the role of a participant?

A participant may:

  1. be a witness at the Hearing;
  2. be questioned by the Parties;
  3. make oral and written submissions to the Tribunal at the commencement and at the end of the Hearing;
  4. upon request, receive a copy of documents exchanged by the Parties that are relevant to the Participant’s interests; and
  5. attend site visits.

What is the role of a presenter?

A presenter may:

  1. be a witness and present his or her relevant evidence at a pre-arranged time, either during a Hearing’s regular day-time session or at a special evening session;
  2. be questioned by the Parties;
  3. provide the Tribunal with a written statement as a supplement to oral testimony; and
  4. upon request, receive a copy of documents exchanged by the Parties that are relevant to the Presenter’s interests.

Participants and presenters may not call or question witnesses, bring motions and cannot ask or be asked to pay costs.

What is the purpose of a pre-hearing conference?

Pre-hearing conferences help to:

  1. identify parties, participants and presenters
  2. determine the length, schedule and location of the hearing
  3. identify, define or narrow issues
  4. set dates for the exchange and filing of all documents, witness lists and witness statements

I was not able to observe the hearing. Can you tell me what happened?

If you did not attend the pre-hearing conference or hearing, you can read any orders or decisions that the ERT has issued by visiting our website at www.elto.gov.on.ca/ert.

Where are hearings located?

The ERT usually holds its hearing events as close as possible to the subject site. The parties may agree to hold the hearing in another location or at the ERT offices in Toronto.

What are the qualifications of Members/Hearing Officers?

The Lieutenant Governor in Council appoints Members to the Environmental Review Tribunal. For Member information, see the Public Appointments Secretariat (PAS) website. The Members of the ERT are also Hearing Officers for the purposes of conducting Niagara Escarpment Hearing Office proceedings.

Are site visits part of the ERT hearing process?

In some cases, the Member(s) may visit the subject site of the appeal. For more information refer to ERT’s Rules of Practice and Practice Directions (PDF).

 

ERT Decisions

When are decisions issued?

The ERT has Guides about the types of matters it deals with. Please read the guide on the matter you are interested in for decision timelines. The ERT has a customer service performance target of issuing its decisions within 60 days after the conclusion of the hearing in at least 85% of its cases.

How can I get a copy of a decision?

All parties, presenters and participants receive a copy of a decision. Decisions are also posted on the ERT website.

Who enforces ERT decisions?

If an ERT decision or order is not being followed, a certified copy of the decision or order can be filed in the Superior Court. If a party files a decision or order with the Superior Court, that party should notify the ERT within 10 days from the date of filing.

What can I do if there is an error in an ERT decision?

The Tribunal may at any time correct a typographical error, error of calculation, or other similar error made in a decision, order, recommendation or report.

How can I request a review of an ERT decision?

In some cases, you may ask the ERT to review its decision. Where a review is permitted, you should send a detailed letter outlining your request to the ERT. For more information refer to ERT’s Rules of Practice and Practice Directions (PDF). Requests for reviews are not applicable to proceedings under the Environmental Assessment Act, section 142.1 of the Environmental Protection Act, the Niagara Escarpment Planning and Development Act, the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Act, 2001 or the Greenbelt Act, 2005. Decisions made under the Environmental Assessment Act can only be reconsidered in accordance with section 11.4 of that Act.

What is the deadline to request a review of an ERT decision?

In cases where you may request a review, the request must be made within 30 days from the date of decision or order. Requests for reviews on decisions under the Environmental Bill of Rights and Consolidated Hearings Act must be made within 10 days.

Can the ERT provide an interpretation of the decision?

A decision of the ERT speaks for itself. ERT staff will not paraphrase or attempt to interpret a decision. Allowing the written decision to speak for itself prevents potential ambiguity and confusion.

Media

Can media attend ERT hearings?

ERT hearings are open to the public and anyone, including media, can attend. However, if the ERT orders that the hearing be closed or the matter is in mediation, only the parties involved can attend.

Can an ERT hearing be recorded/taped?

Recordings of any kind are not allowed when a hearing is in session.

I am from a media outlet and have a question. Who do I contact?

Please contact the Communications Consultant at 416 326 6787.

The Citizen Liaison Office

Can the Citizen Liaison speak at my hearing?

The Citizen Liaison is unable to speak or represent you at an ERT hearing. The Citizen Liaison Office can help explain the ERT’s processes. The Citizen Liaison must stay neutral and is unable to attend any hearing events on your behalf.

Can the Citizen Liaison meet with my community group?

The Citizen Liaison can meet with individuals, groups, companies or corporations that are participating in an ERT matter.

Where is the Citizen Liaison located?

The Citizen Liaison Office is located at 655 Bay Street on the 15th floor in Toronto.

Can I meet with the Citizen Liaison?

You may meet with the Citizen Liaison Coordinator. Please call the office to make an appointment. The office is open during regular business hours.