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EA Process

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)

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.

For projects subject to the OEAA, 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) 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 alternatives;
  • The recommended plan for this section of Highway 401;
  • A summary of potential environmental issues and mitigation measures; and
  • A summary of consultation undertaken throughout the study.

The TESR will 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 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. 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 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.

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 (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

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. The CEAA is "triggered" by the following:

  • Federal Agency is the Proponent
  • Need for Federal funding
  • Need for Federal lands (including First Nations lands), and/or
  • Issuance of a Federal approval identified on the Law List

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
  • Any other matters relevant to the screening that the responsible authority may require to be considered

For more information, please go to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency website at .

The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency has the responsibility of 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 CEAA 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 Environmental Assessment