Highway 7 & 8 Transportation Corridor Highway 7 & 8 Transportation Corridor

Ontario Environmental Assessment Act (OEAA):

An Environmental Assessment, or EA, is a decision-making process used to promote good environmental planning by assessing the potential effects of certain activities on the environment. In Ontario, this process is defined and finds its authority in the Ontario Environmental Assessment Act (OEAA), RSO 1990. The purpose of the OEAA is to provide for the:

  • protection;
  • conservation; and
  • wise management of Ontario's environment.

To achieve this, the OEAA ensures that environmental problems or opportunities are considered and their effects are planned for, before development or building takes place.

To view the Ontario Environmental Assessment Act, click here.

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Class Environmental Assessment for Provincial Transportation Facilities:

The Class Environmental Assessment under Ontario's Environmental Assessment Act is a streamlined process for infrastructure projects and other undertakings such as municipals roads and sewers with predictable environmental impacts.

The Class Environmental Assessment (EA) process is a planning process, approved under the Environmental Assessment Act (EA Act), for a class or group of undertakings. Projects included in the Class Environmental Assessment (EA) may be implemented without further approval under the EA Act provided the approved Class EA planning process is followed. The process provides a decision making framework allowing the requirements of the Environmental Assessment Act (EAA) to be met in an effective manner.

The Ontario Ministry of Transportation developed the 'Class Environmental Assessment for Provincial Transportation Facilities', which was approved by Order in Council 1653/99 on October 6, 1999, as amended on July 14, 2000. It provides, in part, the following:

  • classification of projects and activities;
  • study stages and phases;
  • transportation engineering and environmental protection principles;
  • consultation principles and processes;
  • documentation and "bump-up" principles and processes; and
  • environmental clearance process.

This Highway 7 & 8 Transportation Corridor Planning and Class EA Study will comply with the Class EA process for 'Group A' projects (as defined under the Class Environmental Assessment for Provincial Transportation Facilities) for MTO undertakings in which highway widening, a major realignment and bypass of sections of existing highway, a new provincial highway (provided it is not a new 400-series highway), a new provincial transitway, or combinations of the above are possible outcomes.

The Class EA process can be conducted in such a way as to ensure that compliance with other environmental legislation may be achieved. The Class EA does not replace or exempt the formal processes of other applicable federal, provincial and municipal legislation and by-laws.

To view the 'Class Environmental Assessment for Provincial Transportation Facilities' document, click here.

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MTO Environmental Requirements for Transportation Planning and Design, Construction, Operation and Maintenance:

To clarify its environmental requirements, the Ministry reviewed and synthesized over 60 applicable statutes and the supporting regulations and formal policies regulating the environmental assessment process. Through interpretation of how each is applied to the transportation planning and highway design, construction, operation and maintenance activities, the MTO developed a Draft Environmental Protection Requirement document.

The Environmental Protection Requirements have been developed with participation of Environmental Regulatory Agencies. The Ministry has consulted with the many agencies which mandate the statutes to ensure a common interpretation. The MTO also solicited public input through the Ontario Environmental Bill of Rights Registry.

Further information on the Ministry's Environmental Protection Requirements can be found by visiting: www.mto.gov.on.ca/english/engineering/envirostandards/

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MTO Environmental Reference for Highway Design:

The Environmental Reference for Highway Design (ERD) addresses the environmental assessment issues relating to preliminary and detail design transportation projects. This document has been developed in co-operation with the various Ministry of Transportation (MTO) Regional Environmental Offices and Environmental Regulatory Agencies.

The ERD outlines staff qualifications and the scope of work, as well as details regarding timing and documentation requirements for factor-specific environmental areas of expertise. They include aquatic ecosystems, terrestrial ecosystems, land use, noise, etc.

Further information on the Ministry's Environmental Reference for Highway Design can be found by visiting: www.mto.gov.on.ca/english/engineering/envirostandards/

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MTO Statement of Environmental Values:

Under the Environmental Bill of Rights (EBR), each designated ministry has been required to prepare a Statement of Environmental Values (SEV). The SEV includes information on:

  • how the ministry will apply the purposes of the EBR to any decision that might significantly affect the environment.
  • how the purposes of the EBR should be integrated with other considerations within the ministry, including social, economic and scientific considerations.

The SEV has two principal functions. First, it is designed to guide ministry staff when making decisions that may have an effect on the natural environment. This will ensure that the objectives of the EBR are carried out. Second, the SEV serves as a benchmark against which the public and the Environmental Commissioner may evaluate ministry decisions.

The SEV is not meant to guarantee that the purposes of the EBR are embodied in every government decision. Rather, the goal is to ensure that the environment is given due consideration along with economic, social and scientific concerns when decisions are made. The SEV serves as the embodiment a ministry's environmental commitment and its guiding principles in that regard.

Further information on the Ministry's Statement of Environmental Values can be found by visiting: www.ene.gov.on.ca/envision/env_reg/ebr/english/SEVs/mot.htm

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Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA):

In addition to the Ontario Environmental Assessment Act (OEAA), the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA) subjects some projects to a federal EA process. The federal process is conducted either as a Screening or a Comprehensive Study.

A Screening under the CEAA must include:

  • description of the project;
  • description of the existing environment;
  • the environmental effects of the project including cumulative effects, and the effects of possible accidents or malfunctions;
  • the significance of environmental effects;
  • technically and economically feasible measures that would reduce or eliminate any significant adverse environmental effects of the project;
  • comments from the public that are received in accordance with the Act and the regulations; and,
  • any other matters relevant to the screening that the responsible authority may require to be considered.

The majority of federal projects are assessed through a screening; however, some projects require a comprehensive study. These projects are described in the Comprehensive Study List Regulations.

Early on in the comprehensive study, the Minister of the Environment has to decide whether the project should continue to be assessed as a comprehensive study, or whether it should be referred to a mediator or review panel. If the Minister decides the project should continue as a comprehensive study, the project can no longer be referred to a mediator or review panel.

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

The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency has the responsibility for administering the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act and;

  • promotes environmental assessments as a planning tool to protect and sustain a healthy environment;
  • promotes co-ordination among federal agencies and with provincial agencies;
  • through workshops and training programs, creates an awareness of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act and how it applies; and,
  • acts as a resource to federal authorities with responsibilities under CEAA, to proponents and to the public in interpreting CEAA.

Canadian Environmental Assessment Act
Basics of Federal Environmental Assessment and Screening Process

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