Municipal Class Environmental Assessment
Part A - Class EA Planning Process


Proponent’s responsibility.

The main elements of the Class EA planning process are incorporated in the following five phases:



In brief, the phases may be summarized as follows:

Phase 1 Identify the problem (deficiency) or opportunity.
Phase 2 Identify alternative solutions to address the problem or opportunity by taking into consideration the existing environment, and establish the preferred solution taking into account public and review agency input. At this point, determine the appropriate Schedule for the undertaking (see Appendix 1) and document decisions in a Project File for Schedule B projects, or proceed through the following Phases for Schedule C projects.
Phase 3 Examine alternative methods of implementing the preferred solution, based upon the existing environment, public and review agency input, anticipated environmental effects and methods of minimizing negative effects and maximizing positive effects.
Phase 4 Document, in an Environmental Study Report a summary of the rationale, and the planning, design and consultation process of the project as established through the above Phases, and make such documentation available for scrutiny by review agencies and the public.
Phase 5 Complete contract drawings and documents, and proceed to construction and operation; monitor construction for adherence to environmental provisions and commitments. Where special conditions dictate, also monitor the operation of the completed facilities.

Process and its documentation to be traceable.

The planning and design process shall be undertaken in such a way as to allow a reviewer to trace each step of the process. In particular, the documentation should explain the reasons for the criteria used to identity and assess the alternatives, the proponent’s weighing of these criteria and the decision making process followed.

The process is often iterative.

To ensure that the planning and design process is easily traceable, the proponent shall ensure that:


Flow Chart

The main phases and their application to single projects or Master Plans are identified in Exhibit A.1. The steps in each phase are identified in the Flow Chart, Exhibit A.2, which illustrates the process followed in the planning and design of projects covered by this Class EA. The flow chart incorporates the steps considered essential for compliance requirements of the EA Act, which are discussed with the commencing in Section A.2.2.

It should also be noted that the process outlined in the following sections is not necessarily sequential. It can be an iterative process whereby the results of one step may necessitate re-evaluation of a previous step.





A.2.1.1 Level of Complexity

The process is flexible to meet the specific needs of a project

The following sections describe the planning process in this Class EA. It is important, however, to recognize that there is flexibility within the process to be responsive to specific project and consultation needs, while ensuring that the requirements of the Class EA are met.

Level of complexity or sensitivity can relate to the nature of the problem or opportunity being addressed, the level of investigation required to assess alternatives and environmental effects, and public and agency issues and concerns. The level of complexity may affect the selection of the project schedule, and the scope of each phase in the Class EA process as well as the need to revisit steps in the process. The level of complexity will therefore affect the manner in which a project proceeds through the process.

Determination of level of complexity is an inherent function of the management of a project.

The complexity of a project is based on many components, including environmental effects, public and agency input and technical considerations, and how these interrelate on a specific project. Accordingly, the determination of complexity (and its ongoing assessment) requires sound professional judgement, is an inherent function of the management of a project and, is the responsibility of the proponent.

Divisions amongst project schedules are often not distinct.

Given the varying levels of complexity, the divisions amongst Schedules A, B and C projects are therefore often not distinct. For example, a Schedule B project with many issues and broad community interest could approach the complexity of a Schedule C project. As a result, some proponents may choose to follow the process for a Schedule B, while others may decide to follow the process for a Schedule C. While the Class EA document defines the minimum requirements for environmental assessment planning, the proponent is responsible for “customizing” it to reflect the specific complexities and needs of a project.

The proponent is responsible for taking the minimum requirements and “customizing” them to meet a specific project’s consultation and technical needs.

The foregoing should be considered not only at the outset of project planning but as one proceeds through the process and reviews and confirms the project schedule.


All activities undertaken in the planning process must be documented and records maintained in a form which can be presented to the public for review. However, the proponent need only gather and document information which is likely to have a direct bearing on impacts and mitigating measures. The level of detail of the information to be inventoried should reflect the potential severity of the impacts predicted.

Lastly, it should also be noted that the process outlined in the following sections is not necessarily sequential. It can be an iterative process whereby the results of one Step may necessitate re-evaluation of a previous Step.