Environmental Assessment (EA) Process

This study will follow the approved planning process for a Group 'B' project under the Class Environmental Assessment for Provincial Transportation Facilities (2000).

Ontario Environmental Assessment Act (OEAA) - MTO Class EA Process

The purpose of the Ontario Environmental Assessment Act (OEAA) is to help protect and conserve Ontario's environment by ensuring that projects subject to the OEAA follow a planning process leading to environmentally sound decision-making.

The Class Environmental Assessment (EA) for Provincial Transportation Facilities (2000) is a planning document approved under the OEAA that provides a streamlined process that projects or activities within a defined "class" must follow. When the Class EA process is adhered to and its requirements met for a project, the requirements of the OEAA are also fulfilled and formal approval under the OEAA is not required.

The Class EA requirements must be met before a project can be implemented. Projects and activities that are defined within a "class" are generally ones that are recurring, carried out routinely and have predictable environmental effects that can be mitigated to some extent.

The word "environment" in this context is defined as any aspect of life that may be impacted by the undertaking. Therefore, "the environment" can include aspects of the natural, social, economic and cultural environments depending on the project in question. The Class Environmental Assessment for Provincial Transportation Facilities (2000) outlines the EA process to be followed for specific groups of provincial transportation projects. Project groupings within the Class EA have been established for the purposes of consultation, documentation and formal EA challenge (Part II Order (previously referred to as a "bump up").

The groups are as follows:

  • Group "A" - Projects involving new facilities
  • Group "B" - Projects involving major improvements to existing facilities*
  • Group "C" - Projects involving minor improvements to existing facilities
  • Group "D" - Activities that involve operation, maintenance, administration and miscellaneous work for provincial transportation facilities

For projects subject to the Class EA, an environmental assessment involves identifying and planning for environmental issues and effects prior to implementing a project. The process allows reasonable opportunities for public involvement in the decision-making process of the project. At the completion of the study a Transportation Environmental Study Report (TESR) Addendum will be prepared, which will be made available for public review and will document:

  • The transportation problems and opportunities;
  • The generation, assessment and evaluation of alternative(s);
  • The recommended plan for this section of Highway 400;
  • A summary of potential environmental issues and mitigation measures; and
  • A summary of consultation undertaken throughout the study.

The TESR Addendum will be prepared to address any significant changes to the recommended plan and potential environmental impacts identified in the April 2004 TESR (G.W.P 30-95-00). A TESR Addendum would be made available for a 30-day public and agency review period. If there are serious concerns about the project that cannot be resolved through discussions with MTO, a request can be submitted to the Minister of the Environment (MOE) to make a Part II Order ("bump up") for the project, thereby requiring the preparation of an Individual Environmental Assessment for the proposal documented in the TESR Addendum. If there are no outstanding concerns after the public review period, the project is considered to have met the requirements of the Class EA and may proceed to detail design and construction, contingent upon the receipt of all other required approvals, permits and authorizations.

Environmental clearance of the TESR Addendum ensures that the environmental assessment requirements have been met before proceeding to detail design and construction, including ensuring the study process set out in the Class EA has been applied, and that the transportation engineering, environmental protection, evaluation, consultation, documentation, and bump-up principles have been applied throughout the project.

Other aspects of the environmental assessment process applicable to these project types are contained in the Class Environmental Assessment for Provincial Transportation Facilities (2000) . Readers interested in these matters are encouraged to refer to that document.

Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA)

In addition to the Ontario Environmental Assessment Act (OEAA), the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA) requires that some projects undergo a federal EA process.

In July 2012, the Government of Canada released new regulations required to implement the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012 (CEAA 2012). The CEAA 2012 establishes a federal environmental assessment process focused on major projects that have a greater potential to have significant adverse effects on areas within federal jurisdiction. The types of activities to which the new Act applies (“designated projects”) are identified in the regulations. The Act requires the proponent of a designated project to submit a description of the project to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (the Agency). Upon receipt of a project description, the Agency has 45 days, including a 20-day public comment period, to determine whether a federal environmental assessment is required.

The proposed improvements to this section of the Highway 400 corridor are not listed as “designated projects” under the CEAA 2012 and therefore CEAA approvals are not required for this undertaking.

For more information, please go to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency website at www.ceaa.gc.ca.

Canadian Environmental Assessment Act