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Environmental Assessments 101

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  • What is an EA?

    An Environmental Assessment is the process of determining what environmental impacts, if any, there will be during a project and how to minimize the impacts. The Environmental Assessment process falls under the Ontario Environmental Assessment Act.

    The term "environment" includes the natural, social, cultural, built and economic environments.

    There are two types of Environmental Assessment (EA) processes:

    1. Individual EA - where projects have Terms of Reference and an individual environmental assessment carried out and submitted to the Minister of the Environment for review and approval.
    2. Class EA - where projects are approved subject to compliance with an approved class environmental assessment process with respect to a class of undertakings. 


  • EA Process

    The Environmental Assessment (EA) planning process is broken down into phases:

    Phase 1 (all schedules) - Identify the problem or opportunity.

    Phase 2 (schedule B & C) - Identify alternative solutions taking into consideration the existing environment.  This is when it is determined what schedule the project falls under. 

    Phase 3 (schedule C) - Examine alternative design concepts for the preferred solution.

    Phase 4 - Create an Environmental Study Report (ESR).

    Phase 5 - Execute the project. 


  • Part II Order

    A Part II Order is mechanism used by agencies or members of the public to address their environmental concerns to the Minister of the Environment for review of the status of a project. 

    Procedure to Request a Part II Order:

    For Schedule B projects, a party with a concern should bring it to the attention of the proponent in Phase 2 of the planning process; or, for Schedule C projects, a party with a concern should bring it to the attention of the proponent at any point during Phase 2 through Phase 4 of the planning process.

    If a concern is not resolved through discussions with a proponent, the party raising the objection may request the proponent to voluntarily:

    • elevate the project from a Schedule B to a Schedule C,
    • elevate a Schedule B or Schedule C project to an individual environmental assessment.

    If the proponent declines, the party with the outstanding concern may write to the Minister of the Environment and request a Part II Order.

    • For Schedule B projects, a written request must be submitted to the Minister within the 30 calendar day review period after the Notice of Completion has been issued.
    • For Schedule C projects, a written request must be submitted to the Minister within the 30 calendar day review period after the proponent has filed the Environmental Study Report (ESR) in the public record for public review and has issued the Notice of Completion of ESR.
    • Requests made or received after the 30 calendar review period will not be considered.


  • EA Classes

    EA's are broken down into three(+) different schedules based on the impact they have on the environment.

    Schedule A - This is the most common type of schedule. The project is generally limited in scale and has minimal adverse environmental effects.  Schedule A projects are pre-approved and may proceed without following the full Class EA planning process. 

    Schedule A+ - This is the same as a Schedule A project, however, the public is to be advised prior to the project implementation.  The public will not have the option of requesting a Part II Order under a Schedule A+.

    Schedule B - Schedule B projects have the potential for adverse environmental effects. The proponent is required to undertake a screening process, and have a public information meeting with agencies and the public directly affected by the work.  If all concerns are addressed the proponent may proceed to implementation.

    Schedule C - The project has the potential for significant environmental effects.  Schedule C projects must proceed under the full planning and documentation procedures.  An Environmental Study Report must be prepared and filed for review by the affected public and agencies.