Environmental Assessment Projects
Under the TRCA's vision of The Living City, we are continuing to work towards healthy rivers and shorelines, greenspace and biodiversity, and sustainable communities. One key step in this process is the completion and implementation of a number of important environmental assessment studies along the Toronto waterfront. These environmental assessment projects will serve to remediate erosion- and flood-prone zones, rehabilitate and enhance key natural areas and community focal points, and reclaim urbanized/industrialized sites through naturalization.
Environmental assessment (EA) is a study and a planning process to evaluate the potential environmental effects and benefits of a project or undertaking on the environment before decisions are made about proceeding. In Ontario, the relevant legislation is the Environmental Assessment Act, the purpose of which is to provide for the protection, conservation, and wise management of Ontario's environment.
Individual Environmental Assessments
Individual Environmental Assessments are typically carried out for large-scale complex undertakings with the potential for significant environmental effects and major public interest.
Key components of an Individual EA include:
- consideration of alternatives
- mandatory consultation with interested persons during the preparation and submission of the Environmental Assessment
- mitigation and management of environmental effects
An EA application consists of:
- a terms of reference which is approved by the Minister and
- an Environmental Assessment which is approved by the Minister and Cabinet
Streamlined Environmental Assessment Process
Not all undertakings require a terms of reference (ToR) and environmental assessment (EA). There are streamlined self-assessment processes that can be used for groups or classes of projects that are carried out routinely, have known impacts, and that are predictable and manageable, therefore do not warrant an individual Environmental Assessment.
A streamlined self-assessment process provides a decision-making framework that enables the requirements of the Environmental Assessment Act (EAA) to be met by proponents in an efficient, timely, economic and environmentally-responsible manner.
Class Environmental Assessments
There are currently 10 approved class environmental assessments (class EAs) in Ontario, which cover a wide range of projects and activities. These include: municipal infrastructure, transit, provincial highways, forest management, activities in provincial parks, disposition of Crown resources, nuisance species control, fish stocking, shoreline and stream bank stabilization, access roads, hydro transmission lines, modifications to hydroelectric facilities, as well as flood and erosion control projects.
The Class Environmental Assessment document is prepared in accordance with the approved terms of reference. The class EA document outlines the planning process to be followed, as well as the categorization of projects. Documentation is submitted to the ministry for review and a decision following the EA process. Once approved, the proponent can follow the streamlined EA process as outlined in the approved class EA document.
Conservation Ontario Class EAs
(Conservation Ontario. 2009. Class Environmental Assessment for Remedial Flood and Erosion Control Projects.)
Conservation Ontario has a Class Environmental Assessment planning and approval process for a variety of remedial flood and erosion control projects that may be carried out by Conservation Authority's in Ontario. The Conservation Authority may enter into an agreement with any party to plan design and implement the undertaking.
Remedial Flood and Erosion Control Projects refer to those projects undertaken by a Conservation Authority, which are required to protect human life and property, in previously developed areas from an impending flood or erosion problem. This class of undertakings includes projects that are "of a limited scale and purpose". This class of undertakings includes projects that are "of a limited scale and purpose". Once CA involvement has been determined necessary, it "must be demonstrated that the proposed action falls within the scope of the authority's watershed plan and is consistent with policies and appropriate programs within which the proposed project may be considered to be a part."
TRCA must conduct its remedial flood and erosion control projects in accordance with the Environmental Assessment Act (EAA). Recognizing that common elements exist in addressing flood and erosion problems, a coordinated approach to environmental assessment was developed by Conservation Ontario for all conservation authorities known as the Class Environmental Assessment for Remedial Flood and Erosion Control Projects (Class EA). As part of the Class EA process, TRCA must document the decision making process and the value judgments made in selecting the preferred course of action in an Environmental Study Report, including a description of alternative designs for the undertaking and details of potential effects of the project.
Major flood and erosion control undertakings which do not suit this definition, such as multi-purpose projects, lie outside the limits of this Class and require an Individual EA. Major flood and erosion control undertakings which do not suit the definition under the Class EA, such as multipurpose projects, lie outside of the limits of this class. The impacts of such undertakings are not predictable without detailed study. Such projects do not include works that facilitate or anticipate development. See Individual Environmental Assessment.