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The Ministry of the Environment has proposed two new Codes of Practice for Ontario’s environmental assessment process: Preparing and Reviewing Environmental Assessments and Class Environmental Assessments. Comments may be made between August 17, 2007 and October 16, 2007.

The Code of Practice: Preparing and Reviewing Environmental Assessments in Ontario sets out the ministry’s expectations for the content of an environmental assessment under 6.1 (2) of the Environmental Assessment Act. It also sets out the roles and responsibilities for all participants in the environmental assessment process.

The Code of Practice: Preparing, Reviewing and Using Class Environmental Assessments in Ontario sets out the Ministry’s expectations for the content of a “parent” class environmental assessment under 14 (2) of the Environmental Assessment Act. It also sets out the roles and responsibilities for all participants in the class environmental assessment process. In addition, there is a separate section on using the class environmental assessment process at the project stage and provides guidance to the public on how to navigate the class environmental assessment process for a particular project.

Background:

In 2004, the Minister set up an advisory panel to recommend ways to improve Ontario’s EA process for: waste management facilities; transit and transportation projects; and clean energy facilities. The EA Advisory Panel’s report was submitted in March 2005. Approval to proceed with EA process improvements was announced in June, 2006.

The plan is based on five Codes of Practice and a guidance document, to set out the ministry’s expectations for the content of environmental assessment documents and for the roles and responsibilities of all EA participants.

Three Codes of Practice and one federal/provincial EA co-ordination guide were approved by the Minister on May 30, 2007:
Code of Practice: Preparing and Reviewing Terms of Reference for Environmental Assessments in Ontario
Code of Practice: Consultation in Ontario’s Environmental Assessment Process
Code of Practice: Using Mediation in Ontario’s Environmental Assessment Process
Federal/Provincial Environmental Assessment Co-ordination in Ontario: A Guide for Proponents and the Public.

The two new draft Codes will complete the set:

Code of Practice: Preparing and Reviewing Environmental Assessments in Ontario
Code of Practice: Preparing, Reviewing and Using Class Environmental Assessments in Ontario.

Hopefully, the new documents will reduce the uncertainty that has bedevilled environmental assessment in Ontario. Maybe someday we’ll even see a guidance document on preventing abuse of environmental assessment bump-up requests.

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