Canada: Expert Panel Recommends Essential Changes to Ontario’s Environmental Assessment Framework

An expert report entitled "Improving Environmental Assessment in Ontario: A Framework for Reform" authored by a panel of experts appointed by Ontario Environment Minister Leona Dombrowsky was made available for comments from Ontarians on April 4, 2005.

Though the report ultimately reaches the conclusion that Ontario’s Environmental Assessment Act (the "Act") is fundamentally sound and should not be repealed, it does contain a number of recommendations, which if implemented, could significantly change some aspects of the environmental assessment ("EA") process in Ontario. The report contends that the proposed changes will deliver major improvements in the energy, waste and transportation sectors that have in the past been plagued with delays and inconsistencies.

The panel’s main comment was the significant "disconnect" between the Act and the actual "on the ground" delivery of the environmental assessment program. The panel made numerous recommendations to address this problem, focusing on the application of clear, consistent and transparent rules. The panel also recognized that certain recommendations will require significant resources and several suggestions in the report address the issue of funding for these resources.

History of the EA Review Process

Ontario’s history with EAs goes back to the 1970s when the Province’s struggle to balance the interests of project proponents and the public began. This tension has been particularly acute lately in respect of energy, waste and transportation projects where some projects have been mired in the EA process for years and others have been canceled altogether due to public opposition during the EA process.

On April 5, 2004, Leona Dombrowsky, Ontario’s Minister of the Environment announced the Ministry’s intention to establish an advisory panel of experts to develop proposals on possible approaches to improving the environmental assessment process for waste management facilities, transit and transportation projects and clean energy facilities in Ontario. In a speech, the Minister stated: "We need to create a sharper, more effective and more efficient tool to deal with projects that impact our environment."

In June of 2004, an EA executive advisory panel was appointed. The panel members included representatives familiar with environmental issues from academia, the clean energy sector and the consulting industry.

The goal of the review was to revitalize the EA program by providing clear, prescriptive rules for appropriate environmental planning and decision-making. The aim was to rebalance EA decision-making by setting out clear roles for all participants and to refocus the EA process such that the level of review/assessment of undertakings reflects the potential that each proposal has to positively or negatively impact the environment as defined by the Act.

Key Recommendations

Although the panel made over 40 recommendations, the report states that the central innovation, and the cornerstone of the report, rests within the first five recommendations. These recommendations are "integrated and should not be selectively or independently pursued". A link to the entire report can be found on the MOE homepage at www.ene.gov.on.ca. Key recommendations of the report, which can be broadly categorized as either directed to improve policy or implementation, are as follows:

Policy Recommendations:

i) General need for principles, policies and procedures. General EA principles should be set out within the Ministry of the Environment ("MOE") policy guidelines on how to interpret and apply the purpose of the Act to specific undertakings; provincial policies should be made for each sector (waste, energy, transportation) on what factors contribute to "green undertakings"; and prescriptive sector-specific procedures should be put in place.

ii) Act Principles: There is a need for guidance on how to interpret and apply the purpose of the Act. A set of general EA principles should be articulated in the Act’s policy guidelines for specific application to all decisions made under the Act.

iii) Sector-specific Policy: The MOE should develop sector-specific policies which must be followed under the Act, just as the Provincial Policy Statement is issued and applied under the Planning Act.

Implementation Recommendations:

i) Sector Working Groups: Immediately establish small sectoral working groups for Energy, Transportation and Waste sectors;

ii) EA Procedures: Procedures should be put in place to correlate assessment requirements with the degree of benefit and risk associated with an undertaking;

iii) Ministry Cooperation: Improved cooperation between Ministries in reviewing applications;

iv) Common Hearings: Facilitation of common hearings through changes to the Consolidated Hearing Act;

v) Compliance: Significant changes to improve monitoring, reporting and enforcement; and

vi) Bump-ups or Elevation Requests: Bump-ups would be adjudicated by the existing Environmental Review Tribunal.

Other recommendations include new protocols and procedures that more effectively involve First Nations and aboriginal communities in the EA process; the introduction of a system of EA fees to generate revenue that can be specifically directed to EA activities; the establishment of an independent provincial advisory body to provide expert advice; and a greater use of alternative dispute resolution techniques throughout the EA process.

Next Steps

The comment period on this report remains open until July 4, 2005. After the comments are received, the Ministry will decide which recommendations it will adopt. 

The foregoing provides only an overview. Readers are cautioned against making any decisions based on this material alone. Rather, a qualified lawyer should be consulted.

© Copyright 2005 McMillan Binch LLP

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Authors
 
In association with
Related Topics
 
Related Articles
 
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
Mondaq on Twitter
 
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
 
Email Address
Company Name
Password
Confirm Password
Position
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Accounting
 Anti-trust
 Commercial
 Compliance
 Consumer
 Criminal
 Employment
 Energy
 Environment
 Family
 Finance
 Government
 Healthcare
 Immigration
 Insolvency
 Insurance
 International
 IP
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Litigation
 Media & IT
 Privacy
 Real Estate
 Strategy
 Tax
 Technology
 Transport
 Wealth Mgt
Regions
Africa
Asia
Asia Pacific
Australasia
Canada
Caribbean
Europe
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
U.K.
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.

Disclaimer

The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.

General

Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions