Proposed regulations for how the Environmental Assessment process will apply to four priority transit projects in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area

ERO number
019-0614
Notice type
Regulation
Act
Environmental Assessment Act, R.S.O. 1990
Posted by
Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks
Notice stage
Decision
Decision posted
Comment period
February 18, 2020 - March 19, 2020 (30 days) Closed
Last updated

This consultation was open from:
February 18, 2020
to March 19, 2020

Decision summary

We have approved regulations to modify the existing environmental assessment process for four priority transit projects in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area.

Decision details

Ontario is committed to a strong environmental assessment program that ensures strong environmental oversight while reducing delays on projects that matter most to Ontario communities.

On February 18, 2020, we proposed regulations to modify the existing environmental assessment process for the following four priority transit projects in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area:

  • a new 15-kilometre Ontario Line
  • the Scarborough Subway Extension
  • the Yonge Subway Extension
  • the western extension of the Eglinton Crosstown Light Rail Transit (LRT) project

The regulations were developed to:

  • support the proposed Building Transit Faster Act, which was also announced on February 18, 2020
  • better suit the Public-Private Partnerships (P3) delivery model
  • ensure proper consultation occurs
  • ensure protecting the environment remains a priority

Regulations to modify the EA assessment process for four transit projects

1. Scarborough Subway Extension, Yonge Subway Extension, Eglinton West LRT

We made amendments to O. Reg. 231/08 that apply to these three transit projects. These projects have already completed Environmental Assessment processes by proceeding through the existing regulation.

The regulation, as amended, will:

  • only apply for Addendums (i.e. significant changes to the project from the original EA)
  • provide for a revised issue resolution process whereby the proponent is responsible for addressing concerns through an issues resolution process
  • allow the Minister to intervene only in circumstances where he is of the opinion that the outcome of the process could cause unreasonable delay to the implementation of the project or to address potential negative impacts on Aboriginal or treaty rights

2. The Ontario Line

We approved a new stand-alone regulation which, is very similar to the existing process in O. Reg. 231/08, but also includes:

  • new provisions for Early Works
  • a revised issue resolution process identical to that described above for the Addendum process
  • flexibility to allow certain permits to be issued early

Other information

We approved these proposed regulations based on:

  • consultations and considering input from the public
  • the significant benefits of the proposed transit projects

The new environmental assessment process for the four priority transit projects above will largely follow the existing Environmental Assessment process for transit projects, except that it will provide added flexibility.

The changes will now allow for more certainty in project planning and reduce the risk of delays, while still providing environmental oversight and consultation with the public and Indigenous communities.

Comments received

Through the registry

4

By email

3

By mail

0
View comments submitted through the registry

Effects of consultation

We received 7 submissions during the Environmental Registry and Regulatory Registry consultation period of February 18 to March 19, 2020.

We reviewed all of the submissions and have concluded that the regulations represent policy that is in the public interest. The regulations can help to achieve the goals and objectives set out by us in terms of supporting the Transit Plan for the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area by:

  • modifying the existing EA process to better suit the Public-Private Partnerships (P3) delivery model
  • ensuring appropriate consultation occurs and that the protection of the environment remains a priority

After the consultation was completed, the proposed regulations were reviewed and revised with respect to the circumstances where the Minister may intervene.

  • In order to address matters which may be raised by Indigenous communities, the regulations have been revised to also provide the Minister with the authority to impose conditions to address potential negative impacts on Aboriginal or treaty rights.

Supporting materials

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Original proposal

ERO number
019-0614
Notice type
Regulation
Act
Environmental Assessment Act, R.S.O. 1990
Posted by
Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks
Proposal posted

Comment period

February 18, 2020 - March 19, 2020 (30 days)

Proposal details

Transit planning in Ontario

With the passing of the Getting Ontario Moving Act, 2019, Ontario is ready to move ahead with a variety of transit projects as part of the Transit Plan for the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA). This includes four specific priority projects:

  • a new 15-kilometre Ontario Line
  • the Scarborough Subway Extension
  • the Yonge Subway Extension
  • the western extension of the Eglinton Crosstown Light Rail Transit (LRT) project

Under the Environmental Assessment Act, transit projects can follow the Transit Project Assessment Process (TPAP) as set out under Ontario Regulation 231/08 for Transit Projects and Metrolinx Undertakings.

TPAP requires:

  • consultation with the public and Indigenous communities
  • an assessment of impacts
  • a plan to address those impacts

This process requires specific project details to be known early in the planning process.

In order to deliver these priority projects, the government is moving ahead with transit development in an innovative way which requires a revised approach. Transit planning in Ontario is already supported by an efficient environmental assessment process, but in order to accommodate innovation and efficient delivery of priority transit lines, more needs to be done.

Public-private partnership

Ontario has determined that a public-private partnership (P3) can get transit constructed as quickly, economically, and transparently as possible, while maintaining environmental oversight.

In this model, early design work would be done by Metrolinx, who will lead the development of these projects, but the final project design will be done later in the process by the project contractor.

We are proposing new regulations that modify the existing TPAP process to better suit this delivery model, while ensuring appropriate consultation occurs, and that the protection of the environment remains a priority.

Proposed regulations

The proposed regulations are part of an aggressive program, leveraging the province’s unique ability to speed up approvals and enable construction, with a target to have shovels in the ground by the end of 2020.

The proposed regulations will provide for an environmental assessment process, specific to these 4 transit projects, that is adapted to a P3 approach. The projects will be subject to conditions to be met by Metrolinx to make sure that consultation occurs and environmental oversight is achieved.

The proposed regulations will apply to:

1. The Scarborough Subway Extension, the Yonge Subway Extension, and the Eglinton West LRT

We are proposing to provide for a revised process to deal with any changes to the proposal that were not included in the original approval for each of these projects.

Under the current TPAP framework, minor changes to an already approved project can proceed without further public consultation, but significant changes require the preparation of a report with the opportunity for the public to provide input and submit objections to the minister.

Under the proposed process, Metrolinx would be responsible for responding to issues and concerns. This is intended to reduce uncertainty in terms of project planning and improve project timelines.

The Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks will be able to intervene in the Metrolinx-led issues response process to modify any measures proposed by Metrolinx in response to issues and concerns, if the Minister is of the view that the proposed measures could delay the timely delivery of these projects.

2. The Ontario Line

We are proposing to provide for a new environmental assessment process for this specific project which will require:

  • public, agency and Indigenous community notice and consultation
  • preparation of preliminary Environmental Conditions report(s) and future, more detailed report(s)
  • objections to be addressed through an issues resolution process that Metrolinx would manage

Specifically, the proponent will be required to:

  • complete and publish a draft Environmental Conditions report that will identify the study area of the project, a draft design for the project, existing environmental conditions in the area and include a plan to deal with any known environmental impacts identified at this stage
  • notify and consult with government agencies, stakeholders, the public and Indigenous communities about the Environmental Conditions report
  • publish a final Environmental Conditions report that includes a record of the consultation and a description of if and how the design was changed as a result of that consultation

Once the detailed design is complete, the proponent will be required to:

  • complete and publish a draft Environmental Impact Assessment report which will include the elements of the final Environmental Conditions report (including changes - if any) along with impact assessment and a proposed plan to deal with any environmental impacts
  • notify and consult with government agencies, stakeholders, the public, and Indigenous communities about the draft Environmental Impact Assessment report
  • publish the final Environmental Impact Assessment report which will include a record of the consultation, and a description of if and how the Environmental Impact Assessment was changed as a result of that consultation
  • document changes made to the project, if any, after the Environmental Impact Assessment report has been completed, and for those changes which are significant, notify government agencies, stakeholders, the public and Indigenous communities and provide an opportunity to review those changes
  • address any outstanding concerns through an issues resolution process administered by Metrolinx

The Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks will be able to intervene in the Metrolinx-led issues response process to modify any measures proposed by Metrolinx in response to issues and concerns, if the Minister is of the view that the proposed measures could delay the timely delivery of these projects.

In addition, the regulation will allow Metrolinx to apply for and obtain authorization to proceed with measures to accommodate any species at risk or provincial heritage properties in advance of completing the process outlined in the regulation, subject to any consultation or other requirements associated with those processes.

Early works

Certain parts of the Ontario Line are expected to be ready for construction earlier than other parts of the line.

To provide flexibility, the proposed regulation will have a process to permit early works to proceed to construction before the completion of the draft Environmental Impact Assessment Report, subject to:

  • requirements for consultation
  • identification of impacts and mitigation measures
  • issues resolution

Preliminary activities could include:

  • station modifications
  • bridge replacement and/or expansions
  • rail corridor expansion
  • utility relocations

Metrolinx will be able to prepare and complete an Early Works report for public comment at any point prior to completion of the draft Environmental Impact Assessment report.

The process for public and Indigenous community consultation, posting of studies and issues resolution is proposed to be the same as for the Environmental Impact Assessment report.

Existing approvals

The extensions of the Scarborough, Yonge, and Eglinton West projects have existing Environmental Assessment approvals in place.

The Scarborough Subway Extension got its Environmental Assessment approval on November 29, 2017. This project is a 6.2 kilometre extension of the existing Bloor-Danforth Subway (Line 2) from Kennedy Station to a new Scarborough Centre Station, via Eglinton Avenue, Danforth Road and McCowan Road. The project provides an express one-stop subway service to replace the Scarborough Rail Transit facility between Kennedy and McCowan Stations.

The Yonge Subway Extension got its Environmental Assessment approval in 2009. On November 10, 2014, a minor change to the project was approved to allow a train storage facility. This project is a 7.4 kilometre extension north of Finch Station in Toronto to the Richmond Hill/Langstaff Gateway Urban Growth Centre at Highway 7. The project will include up to six new stations (Richmond Hill Centre, Langstaff/Longbridge, Royal Orchard, Clark, Steeles and Cummer/Drewry) and two terminals for surface/subway service (at Steeles and Richmond Hill Centre Station).

The Eglinton Crosstown LRT got its Environmental Assessment approval in 2010. The Eglinton West LRT was originally approved as Phase 2 of the Eglinton Crosstown LRT project which is currently under construction. This project is Phase 2 of the Eglinton Crosstown LRT and has two components:

  • a nine-kilometre Toronto Segment from Mount Dennis Station to Renforth Station at Commerce Boulevard
  • a five-kilometre Airport Segment from Renforth Station to Pearson International Airport

The Downtown Relief Line received Environmental Assessment approval in October 2018, however, the Ontario Line will enhance and improve the service by:

  • extending north past the planned end of the line at Pape Station to a new end of the line station at the Ontario Science Centre
  • extending west past the current end of line station at Osgoode, through the downtown core to a new end of line station at Ontario Place/Exhibition Place
  • developing a better design for the stations that would connect with other transit service, such as the GO Transit rail network

Regulatory impact statement

The objective of the proposed regulations is to support the Transit Plan for the GTHA by modifying the existing EA process to better suit the P3 delivery model and ensure:

  • appropriate consultation occurs
  • the protection of the environment remains a priority

Reliable, efficient and accessible public transit reduces the congestion burden on roads and highways and helps contribute to a cleaner environment

Metrolinx has identified a number of environmental, social and economic benefits of developing the Ontario Line in its July 2019 Initial Business Case Report.

Transit moves people more efficiently and sustainably than personal motorized vehicles, meaning it reduces the space and cost of getting people to their destinations. That is why key objectives of the new rapid transit lines are to:

  • shift as many personal vehicle trips as possible to transit
  • reduce road congestion
  • minimize energy consumption in the process

The introduction of rapid transit also provides the opportunity to develop active transportation infrastructure for access in areas that are currently automobile-centered.

Travel demand projections show that building the Ontario Line will result in a 3.2% yearly decrease in auto-generated greenhouse gas emissions. Transit reduces the amount of transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions that have a detrimental impact to public health. Such a shift has the added social benefit of increasing physical activity among the population with a positive effect on general health.

The Ontario Line will increase access to the Toronto Financial District, and can serve employment development at the proposed East Harbour. It also serves significant employment in the western part of downtown Toronto and will provide walking distance access to jobs, with the majority of the new access located in downtown Toronto.

Modifying the existing TPAP process to better suit the P3 delivery model and enhance transit service for Ontarians will retain the protection of the environment as a priority. Increasing transit usage in the GTHA as efficiently as possible will assist in achieving the environmental, social, and economic benefits set out above.

Supporting materials

Comment

Commenting is now closed.

This consultation was open from February 18, 2020
to March 19, 2020

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