Cumulative effects are extremely hard to manage in any approval
process. By definition, the person or project seeking an individual
approval does not usually control the other sources of cumulative
impact. Nor is the necessary information about the other actual or
potential impacts usually before the decision-maker. Occasionally,
however, both of these obstacles can be overcome.
In Vasarinsh v. Niagara Escarpment
Commission, the Niagara Escarpment Hearing Office declined
to approve a proposed recreational development, because of the
absence of sufficient evidence as to the cumulative impact of the
proposed development and other phases that were predicted to
follow. "In this case, ... the future development of the park
is relevant to the issue of cumulative impact, given that
Burlington has decided to segment the submission of development
permit applications. Generally speaking, it is preferable for
applicants to submit comprehensive applications for an integrated
development proposal rather than to segment a project with smaller
components and phases. Nevertheless, in this case there is a
management plan that clearly outlines the overall design and layout
of the Park. Hence the Hearing Officer has an evidentiary basis on
which to examine the cumulative impact of the development as a
The future plans for the site are better known in this case than
in other situations where the issue of cumulative impact arises ...
it is important to consider future unapproved developments that may
impact the "site proper". ... while the Hearing Officer
finds that the three soccer fields proposed in this present
development permit application are in accordance with the Niagara
Escarpment Plan, the uses for [the Park] as envisioned in the
management plan are too intensive for a Park within the NEPOSS.
Although major components of the present development permit
application are in accordance with Niagara Escarpment Plan, the
Hearing Officer finds that further development of the Park as
envisioned under the management plan ... would in its totality have
cumulative impacts ... not in keeping with the natural character of
the escarpment environment."
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