Proposal to exempt various Ministry of Transportation projects from the requirements of the Environmental Assessment Act.

ERO number
019-1883
Notice type
Regulation
Act
Environmental Assessment Act, R.S.O. 1990
Posted by
Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks
Notice stage
Proposal
Proposal posted
Comment period
July 8, 2020 - August 22, 2020 (45 days) Open
Last updated

This consultation closes at 11:59 p.m. on:
August 22, 2020

Proposal summary

We are proposing a regulation to exempt select Ministry of Transportation projects from the requirements of the Environmental Assessment Act, subject to conditions for environmental protection: the Bradford Bypass and several Ministry of Transportation Provincial Transportation Facilities class environmental assessments (Class EA) projects.

Proposal details

Environmental assessment modernization

As part of the government’s Made-in-Ontario Plan commitment to modernize the 50-year old environmental assessment (EA) program, the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks is proposing to exempt select Ministry of Transportation projects from the requirements of the Environmental Assessment Act, subject to conditions.

The Ministry of Transportation reviewed critical transportation infrastructure and identified priority projects that previously went through an environmental assessment process but were not implemented, including one individual environmental assessment project (Bradford Bypass) and several Ministry of Transportation class environmental assessment (Class EA) for Provincial Transportation Facilities (Class EA) projects.

These projects are currently subject to other requirements that ensure environmental protection. For example, the Bradford Bypass is subject to conditions of the Environmental Assessment Notice of Approval, and the Ministry of Transportation Class EA for Provincial Transportation Facilities is subject to the addendum process and other Ministry of Transportation Class EA requirements.

Exempting these select projects allows the Ministry of Transportation to maintain and implement critical roadway infrastructure in Ontario and facilitate the movement of people across the province. It also allows the province to focus its resources on more significant, complex infrastructure projects with the highest potential for environmental impacts.

By reducing duplication in environmental assessment processes, and better recognizing other planning processes, we are bringing important public services and infrastructure to communities faster.

Proposed exemptions

Bradford Bypass

The Bradford Bypass project individual environmental assessment was approved on August 28, 2002.

As a condition of this approval (Condition 4 of the Notice of Approval), the design and construction of the highway became subject to the Ministry of Transportation Class EA. Currently, the Ministry of Transportation is required to prepare a Transportation Environmental Study Report (TESR) for the preliminary design and a Design and Construction Report(s) (DCR) for the detailed design of the Bradford Bypass.

The purpose of the TESR is to outline:

  • the potential environmental impacts associated with the project;
  • mitigation measures to address these impacts; and
  • consultation that occurred during the development of the TESR and how the consultation changed the project to address concerns.

One or more DCR must be prepared to document development of detail design and other project implementation issues.

In consultation with the Ministry of Transportation, we are proposing a regulation to exempt this project from requirements of the Environmental Assessment Act, subject to conditions and as appropriate. The purpose of the exemption would be to eliminate duplication in work already completed by the Ministry of Transportation through the environmental assessment process undertaken in 2002, which imposed 15 conditions. In addition, the exemption may save the Ministry of Transportation up to a year of additional work that is duplicative of previous work completed. The proposed exemption would generally require the proponent to fulfill all but Condition 4 of the Environmental Assessment Notice of Approval, as well as other technical design commitments made in the environmental assessment, including completion of:

  • a Stage 3 archaeological assessment at the commencement of the design of the project;
  • the stormwater management plan and groundwater protection plan as referenced in the individual Environmental Assessment;
  • a detailed noise report prior to the start of construction of the project; and
  • commitments from the environmental assessment related to further work such as consultation requirements with agencies, avoidance principles through sensitive areas, and other similar work.

The exemption would allow the project to be implemented as approved in the environmental assessment. However, the exemption would include conditions that require the Ministry of Transportation to:

  • notify the ministry, any other interested stakeholders, and Indigenous communities of proposed changes to the project, provided those changes are within the study area assessed in the approved Environmental assessment; and
  • continue Indigenous community consultation, including submitting an Indigenous Consultation Plan to the ministry.

The project would no longer be required to complete a TESR or DCR(s) in accordance with the Ministry of Transportation’s Class EA. As a result, the Ministry of Transportation would not be required to distribute a Notice of Completion for the TESR or DCR(s) which would normally initiate a 30-day public consultation period.

The Ministry of Transportation would continue to follow all other legislation, standards, and practices, and document the following:

  • environmental investigations
  • assessment of impacts
  • proposed mitigation
  • consultation
  • permits and approvals

In addition, the Ministry of Transportation would be required to meet the conditions outlined in the exemption regulation and annually report on its progress in meeting these conditions. Annual compliance reports would be submitted to the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks for review, as part of compliance monitoring for the project, until all conditions have been fulfilled. These annual compliance reports will also be available to the public to ensure transparency in the regulatory process for the Bradford Bypass outlined in the exemption.

Certain parts of the Bradford Bypass project are expected to be ready for construction earlier than other parts of the project. To provide flexibility, the proposed regulation will have a process to permit early works to proceed. This would apply to construction that is subject to:

  • the Ministry of Transportation fulfilling the duty to consult if there is a potential for adverse impacts on Aboriginal and treaty rights
  • requirements for consultation
  • identification of impacts and mitigation measures
  • issues resolution

Preliminary early works activities could include:

  • new bridge construction
  • bridge replacement or expansion
  • utility relocation

The proposed regulation would save time by allowing the Ministry of Transportation to apply for and obtain permits and approvals required for construction. These approvals would be subject to consultation or other requirements associated with those processes and meeting the conditions set out in the regulation.

Ministry of Transportation class environmental assessment projects

In addition, the Ministry of Transportation has several proposed projects that have completed its Class EA process for Group A and B projects. These projects have completed a TESR but have not been implemented.

If a project has not been implemented within five years of completing a TESR, the Ministry of Transportation is required to do an addendum in accordance with the Ministry of Transportation Class EA. The purpose of an addendum is to consider any significant changes which have taken place since the submission of the original Class EA project. The changes may include new conditions in the study area, new government policies, new engineering standards, or new technologies for mitigating measures.

The following projects have undergone the Ministry of Transportation Class EA process and are now subject to the five-year addendum process:

Northeast Ontario:
  • Highway 69 from north of Highway 559 northerly to south of Magnetawan First Nation Reserve (Date of TESR: February 2007)
  • Highway 69 from south of Magnetawan First Nation Reserve to north of Highway 522 (Date of TESR: August 2008)
  • Highway 69 from south of Magnetawan First Nation Reserve to north of the Magnetawan River (Date of TESR: August 2008; Date of TESR addendum: January 2017)
  • Highway 69 Patrol Yard selection study (Date of TESR: January 2010)
  • Highway 69/17 access (Date of TESR: April 2016)
  • Highway 11 interchange at South Mary Lake Road (Date of TESR: December 2006)
Northwest Ontario:
  • Highway 11/17 four laning (Date of TESR: May 1997)
  • New commercial facility inspection facility (Date of TESR: January 2013)
West Ontario:
  • Highway 3 from Essex Road 8 to Essex Road 34, Essex County (Date of TESR: Jan 2006. Date of TESR addendum for a portion: Nov 2016)
  • Highway 401 and Highway 4 (Colonel Talbot Road) interchange improvements and replacement of Glanworth Drive bridge (Date of TESR: January 2004. Date of TESR Addendum review: October 29, 2018 to December 10, 2018)
  • Highway 401 Mainline widening, interchanges and underpasses from Highway 4 (Colonel Talbot Road) to Wellington Road (Date of TESR: January 2004)
  • Highway 401 Mainline widening and concrete median barrier from Essex Road 42 easterly to Merlin Road, and Rehabilitation and Widening of the Queen Street overpass and McDougal Drain bridge, Chatham-Kent (Date of TESR: September 2008)
  • Highway 401/Westchester Bourne interchange (Date of TESR: January 2016)
  • Highway 401/Dorchester Road interchange (Date of TESR: January 2016)
  • Highway 6 and 401 from Hamilton north limits to Guelph south limits (Date of Individual EA Highway 6 Freelton northerly to Guelph: January 2009.Portion on Highway 401 amended by TESR date: Nov 2012)
  • Highway 6 (Hanlon Expressway) Interchanges from Maltby Road northerly to the Speed River (Date of TESR: June 2009)
  • Highway 401, from 1.0 km west of Hespeler Road easterly to the Wellington County /Halton Region Boundary (Date of TESR: November 2012)
  • Hwy 7 New Kitchener to Guelph
  • Highway 401/ Highbury Ave Interchange, London
  • Hwy 401 Tilbury to London (see multiple projects below)
    • Highway 401 Mainline widening and concrete median barrier – Merlin Road to the Chatham-Kent/Elgin Boundary
    • Highway 401 Interchanges and underpasses – Merlin Road to the Chatham-Kent/Elgin County Boundary
    • Highway 401 Mainline widening and concrete median barrier – Chatham-Kent /Elgin County Boundary to Union Road
    • Highway 401 Mainline widening and concrete median barrier –Union Road to Highway 4 (Colonel Talbot Road)
    • Highway 401 Interchanges and underpasses – Chatham-Kent/Elgin County Boundary to Highway 4 (Colonel Talbot Road)
Central Ontario:
  • Highway 401/Leslie Street (Date of TESR: August 2011)
  • QEW from West of Mississauga Road to west of Hurontario Street (Credit River Bridge) (Date of TESR: June 2013)
  • Highway 400 from Innisfil Beach Road to Highway 11 (with HOV lanes) (Date of TESR for Highway 400 from Highway 89 to Highway 11 Junction: 2004; TESR Amendment approved in 2018)
  • Highway 400 from Highway 89 to Innisfil Beach Road (with HOV lanes) (Date of TESR for Highway 400 from Highway 89 to Highway 11 Junction: 2004; TESR Amendment approved in 2018)
  • Highway 400 from Highway 9 to Highway 89 (with HOV lanes) (Date of TESR: 2005)
  • New interchange to replace the existing at-grade intersection of Highway 5 and 6. An additional Highway 6 lane in each direction, improvements to municipal road network improvements to maintain property access and a new commuter parking lot
East Ontario:
  • Highway 17, Arnprior to Renfrew Twinning (Date of TESR: June 2004)
  • County Road 30/401 interchange improvements (Date of TESR: April 2006)
  • Highway 7, Perth to Wayside Drive (Date of TESR: February 2010)
  • Highways 7 and 41, intersection improvements, Kaladar (Date of TESR: December 2010)
  • Highways 7 and 35, KL Road 18 to KL Road 36, Lindsay (Date of TESR: December 2010; Date of TESR addendum 2019)
  • Highway 7 from Kaladar to Sharbot Lake – deferred operational improvements (TESR 2009)
  • Highway 7 from Actinolite to Kaladar – deferred operational improvements (TESR 2006)
  • Highway 7 from Havelock to Marmora – deferred operational improvements (TESR 2010)

In consultation with the Ministry of Transportation, we are proposing a regulation to exempt these projects from the requirements of Environmental Assessment Act, subject to conditions. The purpose of this exemption is to:

  • eliminate duplication of work already completed by the Ministry of Transportation during the original Class EA process completed for each of the projects listed above; and
  • reduce timelines for the implementation of this critical infrastructure.

If the proposed exemption regulation is approved, the Ministry of Transportation would no longer be required to complete the addendum process as outlined in the Ministry of Transportation Class EA for these projects. As a result, the Ministry of Transportation would not be required to complete a review of the original TESR which is normally completed to document any changes to the project. By exempting these requirements, there would not be any opportunity for public review of an addendum nor any opportunity to submit Part II Order requests.

In addition, the Ministry of Transportation would not complete a DCR documenting the environmental assessment process during detail design for public review. There also would not be any opportunity to submit Part II Order requests on the DCR. However, the proposed regulation would impose additional conditions on the project, as appropriate. For example, the Ministry of Transportation would be required to:

  • issue a public notice to proceed with the implementation and construction of the project in accordance with the completed Class EA;
  • begin construction of these projects within ten years of this regulation;
  • continue consulting with Indigenous communities, as necessary for the individual projects; and
  • fulfill conditions of a Minister’s decision on Part II Order requests that have already been submitted for projects listed above, as applicable.

Detail design for the projects on the list above will still occur, and project-specific permits and approvals will need to be obtained. The Ministry of Transportation’s infrastructure is designed by professionals bound by legislation, policies, and procedures, and this would not change in the absence of a discrete environmental document. Likewise, impacts to the environment would still need to be predicted, measured, and mitigated, as dictated by other provincial and federal legislation.

Regulatory impact statement

The objective of the proposed regulation is to support the maintenance and implementation of critical roadway infrastructure in Ontario and ensure that:

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

There are no direct compliance costs or new administrative burdens associated with the proposed regulation, as the proposed exempted projects have already completed a previous environmental assessment process and their environmental impacts are well understood. There are also other applicable provincial and federal approvals and permits that would still be required and consultation on the individual projects will continue, as necessary.

By eliminating duplication, we are shortening timelines, reducing delays, and focusing the province’s resources on projects that matter most to Ontario communities.

Through these sensible, practical changes, we are bringing Ontario’s environmental assessment program into the 21st century.

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