Municipal Class EA – Proposed 2019 Amendments
As the proponent of the Municipal Class Environmental Assessment (MCEA), the Municipal Engineers Association (MEA) has been monitoring the use of the MCEA process for many years and recently, it has become clear that significant concerns have developed that need to be addressed. The MCEA process has become overly time-consuming and expensive and is not delivering the intended streamlined approval process.
MEA continues to pursue three main urgent issues:
1) Exempt Schedule A and A+ projects from Part II Order Requests (PIIORs) – As we have suspected, some are finding out about this loophole and as an example, in 2017, a small Eastern Ontario municipality had a simple road paving project (Schedule A+) delayed for an entire year because of a PIIOR by an individual. It is urgent that this be addressed.
2) Issue PIIOR Decisions in a Timely Manner – MECP staff issue many approvals and many of these approvals deal with projects with greater environmental impact that a PIIOR on an MCEA project. Furthermore, in the Auditor General’s 2016 “Value for Money Audit” of EA system, it states that PIIOR decisions were delayed an average of 110 days waiting on the Minister’s signature. The PIIOR system needs to be revamped so that the review focuses only on the issues raised in the PIIOR and the authority to announce a decision on a PIIOR needs to be delegated to the Director.
The Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) has announced that a discussion paper outlining options for EA reform will be released shortly. MEA is hopeful that these first two points will be addressed in this discussion paper.
3) Re-Organize Projects in the MCEA Schedules in Appendix 1 with an Amendment – The intent of this amendment is threefold:
a. To simplify the various project descriptions so there are fewer descriptions that are more encompassing. As an example, existing road projects 1, 2, 4, 6 and 10 all describe maintenance activities and places them in Schedule A. However, other activities such as weed control and install/maintain signage are not included anywhere in the Schedules. The new project description that replaces the five existing descriptions includes “all operational and maintenance activities related to roads and related surface infrastructure”. The effort to simplify the project descriptions does not shift the category for the project. The 41 existing projects in the Roads section are replaced with 12 new project descriptions and the 97 existing projects in the Water/Wastewater section are replaced with 20 new project descriptions.
b. To use triggers that consider environmental risk when classifying projects. For example the cost of a project does not necessarily relate to the environmental risk. Also, the environmental risks can be mitigated by the requirements of other legislation. The proposed new road project descriptions do not use cost but instead primarily use the need for property and/or an increase in lanes of travel for vehicles as the trigger for a higher level of assessment. A change to the hydraulic capacity of a bridge has been removed as a trigger. The proposed new water/wastewater project descriptions acknowledge the ability of other approvals (ECA) to mitigate risk and use major increase to capacity and the need for property as triggers.
c. To review project classifications and shift the project to a different class if justified. Projects are shifted up or down if a higher or lower level of assessment is justified. In the Roads section, 4 projects are shifted up and 5 projects are shifted down. In the Water/Wastewater section, 22 projects are shifted up and 15 projects are shifted down.
A copy of Appendix 1 of the current MCEA document (v 2015) is found by clicking here.
Proposed amendments to Appendix 1 can be found by clicking the following links:
In addition, ammendments are also proposed for the Heritage Bridge Checklist. These current checklist and proposed amendments can be viewed by clicking:
The above amendments for Roads and Water/Wastewater show the proposed new project descriptions in the first column; the second column lists the associated existing project descriptions that are being replaced by the new encompassing description; the third column provides notes/explanations.
Noteworthy specific changes proposed in the amendments are highlighted below:
Your feedback is important. We request that you share any specific comments on the proposed amendment to the project schedules and the Heritage Bridge Checklist by May 8, 2019. It is also important that we receuve your support for the proposed MCEA improvements. Please provide your comments and support by email to firstname.lastname@example.org .