• Stephen Lecce, MPP

Ontario Modernizing the Drainage Act

July 08, 2021

As part of its plan to reduce red tape and create a more competitive business environment, the Ontario government has amended the Drainage Act to reduce regulatory burden and streamline approvals for farmers, rural landowners and municipalities undertaking drainage projects. Drainage supports agricultural productivity by reducing nutrient loss and soil erosion on farmlands. It provides environmental and economic benefits such as reducing flooding and increased crop productivity, as well as enhancing natural habitats. “Drainage is essential to our agriculture sector and our economy,” said Lisa Thompson, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. “That’s why we’re reducing the time it takes to make minor improvements to drainage systems that can provide positive environmental and economic benefits to farmers and municipalities.” Part of the government’s commitment to reduce red tape, streamlining processes under the Drainage Act will not only save time and money for those undertaking projects, but will encourage the development of more small-scale green infrastructure projects that provide environmental benefits. Simplifying the process required to undertake minor changes to drainage projects under the Drainage Act will not impact the environmental protections that are in place to help ensure that Ontarians are safe and healthy. These existing environmental protections will be maintained to help ensure ongoing investment in drainage infrastructure.


Quick Facts

  • The Drainage Act is one of the oldest pieces of legislation in Ontario, passed in 1859.

  • These updates to the Drainage Act mark the first significant amendments made to the legislation since 1975.

  • The updated regulations came into force and effect on June 30, 2021.

  • There are more than 45,000 kilometres of municipal drains servicing approximately 1.9 million hectares of a total of 3.6 million hectares of cropland in Ontario.

  • More than $100M is privately invested in drainage annually in Ontario, supporting 900 jobs and more than 100 independent businesses.

Additional Resources

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