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Ontario Proposes Project List For Comprehensive Environmental Assessments Under The Environmental Assessment Act

Published on
September 12, 2020

Last night the Ontario Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) posted its proposed project list to the Environmental Registry of Ontario website that, if approved through regulation, will be subject to Comprehensive (formerly called Individual) Environmental Assessment requirements.  You may recall that MECP recently made significant amendments to  the Environmental Assessment Act (EAA) as part of the COVID-19 Economic Recovery Act, 2020, in an effort to modernize the legislation.

Details of the policy proposal, including the proposed list of projects that would be subject to a Comprehensive Environmental Assessment, are available here (posting 019-2377). Submissions in response to the proposal are due November 10th either via the ERO posting or directly to EAmodernization.mecp@ontario.ca.

Per the MECP’s notification, pending development and passage of this regulation, and the corresponding amendments to the EAA are brought into force, the list of projects described in the regulation will require an approval under the Comprehensive Environmental Assessment provisions (Part II.3) of the amended EAA. Until this happens, the EAA will continue to apply as it does currently.

Currently, projects are subject to environmental assessment based on “who” is doing the work, rather than what the project is. MECP states that the project list approach is consistent with the federal government and other provincial environmental assessment frameworks across Canada, and is intended to focus environmental assessment requirements and environmental oversight on high (comprehensive) and medium impact (streamlined) projects. The objective of this approach is to eliminate unnecessary burden on low-impact projects and duplicative requirements, and allow MECP to focus on projects that may pose a greater impact to the environment.

The posting also notes that in the coming months a second list of proposed projects that will be subject to the Streamlined Environmental Assessment provisions of the amended EAA (Part II.4) will be developed and shared for consultation.

Our team is reading the posting and proposal closely; please let us know if you have any questions or if we can help as you develop your submission in response to this proposal.

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