Toward improving the environmental assessment program in Ontario

Ontario Ministry of the Environment
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Ontario Ministry of the Environment

Greater attention is being given to both the environment and the concept of sustainable development resulting in an increasing need to have environmental considerations taken into account in decision-making processes. The EA Act has an important role to play in this growing need and must be an effective and efficient tool. This review of the EA Act and program arises from concerns expressed during 14 years of implementation and the need to examine future application of environmental considerations in sustainable economic development. This paper is based on the premise that the Act, and its underlying principles of public consultation, broad definition of the environment, analysis of alternatives and consideration of environmental effects provides for a comprehensive, effective and environmentally sensitive decision-making tool. The paper sets out the Government of Ontario's proposals regarding changes to the Act and its process. The paper recommends specific changes to the Act and the EA program to increase effectiveness and to make the application of the Act more efficient. The paper also examines the application of the Act, or its key principles, beyond its current use. The release of this paper for public review is the last major step in an extensive consultation process. Consultation has taken place with government agencies, environmental and other affected non-government groups to ensure that the respective views of these groups were taken into account during the review period. The paper was prepared by an Environmental Assessment Task Force set up by the Ministry of the Environment (Ministry) in 1989 and the Environmental Assessment Program Improvement Project (EAPIP) work that preceded it. Submissions were received from many groups during the EAPIP review and were used to develop six working papers that set out options related to the EA program. This paper combines the more general recommendations that were set out in Phase I of the review of the Act into comprehensive Phase 2 recommendations. The purpose of releasing this paper for public review, therefore, is to receive comments on the specific recommendations and overall approach taken in the proposed revisions to the Act and its application and to receive comment on the application of the Act beyond its current use. These comments will form an integral part in finalizing the recommendations for amendments of the Act, improvements in delivery of the EA program, and shaping direction beyond the current program.

Ontario Ministry of the Environment
Other O.M.E. Environmental Reports
environmental assessment, environmental assessment program, environmental assessment act, public consultation, approvals, monitoring, planning, consultations, review