Environmental assessment modernization: amendment proposals for Class Environmental Assessments

ERO number
019-1712
Notice type
Bulletin
Act
Environmental Assessment Act, R.S.O. 1990
Posted by
Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks
Bulletin posted
Last updated

This notice is for informational purposes only. There is no requirement to consult on this initiative on the Environmental Registry of Ontario. Learn more about the types of notices on the registry.

Update Announcement

We have updated this proposal notice on August 18, 2020. We have uploaded a new document for the MNRF Class EA to include missing information due to an administrative error. No other changes have been made to the notice or the commenting period.

August 18, 2020

Bulletin summary

We are modernizing the environmental assessment program by working with proponents of Class Environmental Assessments (Class EA) to propose changes that would ensure strong environmental oversight, while aligning assessment requirements with environmental impact, reducing duplication and increasing efficiency of the Class EA process.

Why consultation isn't required

Consultation is not required under the Environmental Bill of Rights, 1993 because Class EAs are not designated instruments or regulations.

The purpose of this bulletin is to advise the public about the amendment proposals to Class EAs. Public notice is being given pursuant to section 15.4 of the Environmental Assessment Act.

Consultation on the proposed amendments to the Class EAs will take place primarily through Ontario.ca from July 8 to August 22. Visit the project pages listed below to learn more about the proposed amendments.

Bulletin details

Modernizing environmental assessment processes

Ontario is taking the next steps to modernize its almost 50-year-old environmental assessment program, as committed to in our Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan.

We are working with holders of Class Environmental Assessments (Class EA) to propose sensible, practical changes that would ensure strong environmental oversight while eliminating duplication and reducing delays on projects that matter most to Ontario communities.

By looking at smarter, more modern ways of doing business, we’re bringing important public services and infrastructure to communities of Ontario without delay.

What we’ve done so far

We are taking a strategic and phased approach to environmental assessment modernization.

As a first step, we released a discussion paper in April of last year, outlining the challenges with our current framework and introducing our vision for a modernized environmental assessment framework. Refer to ERO 013-5101 for more information.

We also amended the Environmental Assessment Act through the More Homes, More Choice Act, 2019, to address some immediate challenges with the environmental assessment program while we worked on changes to implement the government’s long-term vision.

These amendments included exempting low-impact projects, such as constructing roadside parks and adding bike lanes from requirements under Class EAs. Refer to ERO 013-5102 for more information.

What we’re doing now

To build on these changes and support our next step of modernization, we invited the proponents of Class EAs to propose changes to their Class EAs to better align study requirements with the potential for environmental impacts and eliminate duplication.

The proposed changes to Class EAs will help us to refocus our efforts on projects that have potential to impact the environment by:

  • exempting low-impact projects
  • aligning study requirements with the potential for impacts

Class EA Amendments

What is a Class EA?

A Class EA is a document that sets out a standardized planning process for classes or groups of activities. It applies to projects that:

  • are carried out routinely
  • have predictable environmental effects that can be readily managed

Projects defined within a Class EA do not require approval under section 5 of the Environmental Assessment Act, as long as they are:

  • being planned according to the procedures set out in the Class EA
  • not subject to a Part II Order from the Minister requiring that the proponent undertake a full environmental assessment

There are 10 approved Class EAs, which set out streamlined processes for provincial highways, municipal works, minor transmission facilities, etc.

The minister has the authority to amend an approved Class EA.

Proposed amendments to Class EAs

Amendments have been proposed for 8 Class EAs. Some of the proposed changes include:

  • changing requirements for some projects, including reducing requirements for certain projects, or exempting projects altogether
  • establishing or updating screening processes to determine the appropriate categorization for a project
  • updating the Class EAs to ensure consistency with the Environmental Assessment Act as a result of the passage of the More Homes, More Choice Act, 2019
  • administrative changes to correct errors; update references to legislation and regulations; clarify the existing text; and update references to bodies, offices, persons, places, names, titles, locations, websites, and addresses

The following amendment proposals to Class EAs are available for review and comment:

In addition, the ministry will be updating certain sections in Class EAs with standardized language to ensure consistency between Class EAs, including:

  • the amending procedures in Class EAs to be consistent with the Environmental Assessment Act, as a result of the changes made by the More Homes, More Choices Act, 2019, including amendments by the Minister and the Director.
  • the sections in Class EAs on Part II Orders to explain the Minister’s authority under section 16 of the Environmental Assessment Act and to create consistency across all Class EAs.

Any comments on these proposals should be directed to the staff contact identified on the specific Class EA websites linked above.

What else are we doing?

Regulatory changes

In addition to the proposed amendments to Class EA, we are consulting on proposed regulations for projects and activities that have requirements under the Environmental Assessment Act, including:

Please visit the Environmental Registry pages for more details on these proposals.

Legislative changes

On April 25, 2019, we released a discussion paper outlining our plan to bring Ontario’s environmental assessment program into the 21st century. This plan identified immediate actions to exempt low-impact projects and longer-term actions to ensure that our program is focused on projects with the greatest impacts to our environment and communities.

We took immediate action through the More Homes, More Choice Act, 2019 by exempting low-impact projects. We are now building on this work by consulting on proposed amendments to Class EA and other exemptions for specific projects or activities. The proposed changes, if approved, would help reduce timelines and refocus our streamlined processes on projects that have a greater potential for environmental impacts.

However, more work can be done to improve our approach to streamlined assessments. There are currently 10 different Class EA processes and 3 streamlined environmental assessment regulations, each with varying requirements. As outlined in our discussion paper, and as the next phase of modernization, we are proposing further changes to the EA framework. We want to revitalize our streamlined environmental assessment processes to eliminate duplication and reduce confusion by moving to consistent streamlined environmental assessment processes set out in regulation, with clear expectations regarding consultation and defined timelines. The proposed amendments to Class EAs will inform the development of these streamlined regulations.

In our discussion paper, we also recognized that there are concerns with the process to request an individual environmental assessment or conditions for a Class EA project (i.e. Part II Order process). To address these concerns, we are also proposing changes to the Part II Order process to minimize delays to project implementation.

If the proposed amendments to the Environmental Assessment Act are passed, amendments to the Class EAs may be made to align relevant provisions with amendments to the Environmental Assessment Act.

For more information on these changes, please see ERO #019-2051.

Amendment Proposals:

  1. Activities of the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines under the Mining Act
    A. ENDM Amendment Proposal Table
     
  2. Class EA for Minor Transmission Facilities (Hydro One)
    A. Hydro One Amendment Proposal Table
    B. Hydro One Clean version of proposed changes
     
  3. Municipal Class Environmental Assessment (Municipal Engineers Association)
    A. Municipal Class EA Amendment Table 1 Proposed Changes to Road Schedules
    B. Municipal Class EA Amendment Table 2 Proposed Changes to Water/Wastewater Schedules
    C. Municipal Class EA Amendment Table 3 Proposed Changes to Municipal Class EA Manual
    D. Municipal Class EA Amendment Table 4 Proposed Changes to Transit Schedules
     
  4. Remedial flood and erosion control projects (Conservation Ontario)
    A. Conservation Ontario Amendment Proposal Table
     
  5. Waterpower projects (Ontario Waterpower Association)
    A. Waterpower Amendment Proposal Table
    B. Waterpower Amendment, Redline Screening Process Document
     
  6. Resource Stewardship and Facility Development (Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry
    A. MNRF RSFD Amendment Proposal Table
    B. MNRF RSFD Clean Class EA
     
  7. Public Work Class EA (Ministry of Government and Consumer Services)
    A. MGCS Amendment Proposal Table
    B. MGCS Government Property Class EA
     
  8. Provincial Transportation Facilities (Ministry of Transportation)
    A. MTO Amendment Proposal Table
    B. MTO Class EA Document

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Please reach out to the Contact listed in this notice to see if alternate arrangements can be made.

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