Municipal Class Environmental Assessment
Part A - Class EA Planning Process


A.1.2.1 The Undertaking for the “Parent” Class EA for Municipal Projects

“Parent” Class EA for Municipal Projects

The undertaking for the “parent” Class EA for Municipal Projects (i.e. Municipal Class EA) is a process by which municipal infrastructure projects will be planned in accordance with the EA Act. Once approved, the Class EA establishes a process whereby the municipal projects as defined in this document and any subsequent modifications, can be planned, designed, constructed, operated, maintained, rehabilitated and retired without having to obtain project-specific approval under the EA Act, provided the approved environmental assessment planning process is followed. The Municipal Class EA is the “parent” Class EA which describes the approved planning process and the types of projects which are included in the Class. The process that is implemented through the approval of the “parent” Class EA ensures that the intent of the EA Act is met by providing for: the identification of problems or opportunities; the identification, evaluation and selection of a preferred means of addressing the problems or opportunities, giving due regard to the need to protect the environment and minimize environmental effects; and, doing the foregoing with the involvement of affected stakeholders in the decision-making process and following the key principles of environmental assessment planning.

The Executive Summary outlines how this Class EA complies with the requirements for an approved “parent” Class EA under Section 14(2) of the EA Act.

The Class EA process can be conducted in such a way as to ensure that compliance with other environmental legislation may be achieved. The Class EA process, however, does not replace or exempt the formal processes of other applicable federal and provincial legislation and municipal by-laws, such as permits or approvals, and the specific public and agency consultation that they may require. Where possible, duplication between the Class EA process and other formal approval processes should be avoided.

A.1.2.2 Project Schedules

Types of projects included in Municipal Class EA:


Projects undertaken by municipalities vary in their environmental impact. Consequently, projects are classified in this Class EA in terms of schedules:

Schedule A projects are limited in scale, have minimal adverse environmental effects and include a number of municipal maintenance and operational activities. These projects are pre-approved and may proceed to implementation without following the full Class EA planning process. Schedule A projects generally include normal or emergency operational and maintenance activities.

Schedule A+ As part of the 2007 amendments, Schedule A+ was introduced, where Schedule A+ projects are pre-approved, however, the public is to be advised prior to project implementation.

The purpose of Schedule A+ is to ensure some type of public notification for certain projects that are pre-approved under the Municipal Class EA, it is appropriate to inform the public of municipal infrastructure project(s) being constructed or implemented in their area. There, however, would be no ability for the public to request a Part II Order. If the public has any comments, they should be directed to the municipal council where they would be more appropriately addressed.

Schedule A+ activities may have been previously approved by a municipal council through annual budgets or specific mandates. Advising the public of the project implementation is a means to inform the public of what is to be undertaken in their local area. The public retains the opportunity to comment to municipal council. Given that these projects are pre-approved, there is no appeal to MOE on these projects.

The manner in which the public is advised is to be determined by the proponent. This could be a notice provided to adjacent property owners, a notice posted at the site, a report to council, a list of projects posted on the municipality’s website etc. (Note: the mandatory requirements for a “Public Notice” as outlined in Section A.3.5.3 do not apply to Schedule A+).

(For Schedule A and A+, Section A.1.3 explains the differences between municipalities who are proponents of the Municipal Class EA and those who are not but use it, with regard to unconditional approval of Schedule A and A+ projects).

Schedule B projects have the potential for some adverse environmental effects. The proponent is required to undertake a screening process (see Appendix 1), involving mandatory contact with directly affected public and relevant review agencies, to ensure that they are aware of the project and that their concerns are addressed. If there are no outstanding concerns, then the proponent may proceed to implementation. Schedule B projects generally include improvements and minor expansions to existing facilities.

Schedule C projects have the potential for significant environmental effects and must proceed under the full planning and documentation procedures specified in this Class EA document. Schedule C projects require that an Environmental Study Report be prepared and filed for review by the public and review agencies. Schedule C projects generally include the construction of new facilities and major expansions to existing facilities.

Provided the approved Class EA planning process is followed, a proponent has complied with Section 13(3) of the EA Act. The Class EA process therefore provides municipalities with significant relief from the application of the review requirements of the Act, while ensuring that an adequate environmental assessment process is followed. Class EAs place emphasis on project assessment and public and agency involvement rather than on review and approvals.

Project schedules are generally categorized by their anticipated environmental impact.

Specific types of projects within these schedules are provided in Appendix 1. The types of projects and activities are intended generally to be categorized with reference to the magnitude of their anticipated environmental impact. In specific cases, however, a project may have a greater environmental impact than indicated by a Schedule. In these cases, the proponent may, at its discretion, change the project status by elevating it to a higher schedule. There is also an appeal mechanism for Schedule B and C projects which is discussed in Section A.2.8.

A.1.2.3 Responsibility for Compliance with the EA Act

The proponent is responsible for compliance with the EA Act.

The Class EA process is a self assessment process. In all situations where the Class EA process is applicable to a project, it is the responsibility of the proponent to ensure that the planning process as set out in the Class EA document is undertaken. If a proponent incorrectly determines that the Class EA does not apply, or if a proponent selects the incorrect Schedule, it is the responsibility of the proponent to rectify the matter and meet the requirements of the Class EA process.

Non-compliance could result in MOE revisiting the EA approval of a specific project or revoking the proponent’s privilege to use this Class

Failure to follow the process outlined in this document, however, is a breach of the EA approval under which this Class EA was authorized and therefore places the proponent in contravention of the EA Act. Offences and penalties are dealt with in Section 38 of the amended EA Act. Staff of the Ministry of the Environment (MOE) enforce compliance with requirements of the EA Act. Non-compliance or failure to apply the approved process in the intended manner may result in:


A.1.2.4 Municipal Class EAs Renewal Project - Review Process

Previous Class EAs for i) Municipal Roads and ii) Municipal Water and Wastewater were reviewed, updated and consolidated.

On April 9, 1987, the first municipal Parent Class EAs prepared by the Municipal Engineers Association (MEA) were approved under the EA Act. At that time, two Class EAs were implemented to deal with 1) municipal road projects, and 2) municipal water and wastewater projects. The approval for these Class EAs was subject to review after five years. In 1993, the Class EAs were reviewed, updated and approved under the EA Act with an expiry date of May 31, 1998. A 1993 Regulation also brought certain private sector projects under the Class EAs. In 1994, regulations were passed amending certain provisions of the Class EAs with an expiry date of May 31, 1998. An extension to the 1993 Class EAs approval was approved. As a result, the 1993 Class EAs remained in force until they were replaced by the 2000 Municipal Class EA.

In 1997, the MEA in conjunction with the MOE - Environmental Assessment Branch (EA Branch), commenced the Municipal Class EAs Renewal Project which culminated in the preparation of an updated and consolidated “parent” Class EA for Municipal Projects, which was approved in 2000. The Renewal Project was carried out by MEA, on behalf of the proponent municipalities, under the direction of a Steering Committee of stakeholder representatives including:


The Core Review Team included the MOE - Approvals Branch, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Ministry of Transportation.

The Renewal Project itself was conducted in accordance with Section 13 of the EA Act. Accordingly, the main steps in the renewal process were:



Consultation is an important component of the EA process and was carried out through:


Workshops were also held with EA practitioners at key points in the study. In addition, those stakeholders who indicated an interest were provided with a copy of the draft Class EA for review.


Non-compliance could result in MOE revisiting the EA approval of a specific project or revoking the proponent’s privilege to use this Class

Failure to follow the process outlined in this document, however, is a breach of the EA approval under which this Class EA was authorized and therefore places the proponent in contravention of the EA Act. Offences and penalties are dealt with in Section 38 of the amended EA Act. Staff of the Ministry of the Environment (MOE) enforce compliance with requirements of the EA Act. Non-compliance or failure to apply the approved process in the intended manner may result in:


Overall, the process is working well.



From comments received since the Municipal Class EAs were first approved, and during the Renewal Project, municipalities as well as stakeholders have indicated that the process is working well. This was also borne out through the stakeholder survey.


The principle of the renewal project was to maintain the existing process and make only necessary changes.

It is therefore important to recognize that much has been achieved over the years of working with and refining the Municipal Class EAs. In addition, with municipal constraints and staff reductions likely continuing for the foreseeable future, it became apparent that now is not the time for wholesale change of a process that many municipalities and practitioners have indicated is working well. Municipalities as well as stakeholders have become well versed with the Class EAs and would not benefit from extensive changes to those aspects that are working.Therefore, the underlying principle in the review and updating of the Class EAs was to maintain the substance of the existing process while making any necessary changes.

Nevertheless, some issues were identified relating not only to components of the existing Class EAs but also to new features of the amended EA Act, potential opportunities to improve and enhance the Class EAs, and, evolving new issues.

Based on input from the Steering Committee and stakeholders, the options for addressing the identified issues were assessed, a preferred option determined, and, pertinent changes incorporated into the updated Class EA or identified for subsequent follow-up separate from the Class EA Renewal Project.

Table A.1 summarizes the main issues and how they were addressed.

A.1.2.4 TABLE A.1

A.1.2.4 TABLE A.1







Bump-Up Provision

Integrated Approach


Triggers / Schedules
a) Triggers

b) Schedules

Level of Effort / Project Significance

Co-ordination with the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA)


Consultation / Mediation

Need for Two Municipal Class EAs (Application of EA Process to Municipal Projects)


Increase Application of the Municipal Class EAs

Relationship to Municipal Act / Other Legislation

Clarification of Stakeholder Roles


A.1.2.5 “Parent” Class EA Framework

The Municipal Class EA provides the framework for environmental assessment and outlines the approved process. It is not a “how to” manual for project planning and management.

As noted earlier, comments received by MEA and the information collected through the Renewal Project indicated that, in general, the process is working well. There were, however, differing opinions with regard to the level of explanatory detail and amount of direction to be provided. This was to be expected given the broad scope of the document, and its application to a variety of projects being undertaken by numerous proponents.

There are many proponents who are knowledgeable and experienced in applying the Municipal Class EA process to a full range of projects either straightforward or complex, and, who have developed their own approach to Master Plans and co-ordinating EA Act requirements with Planning Act requirements. There are, however, some municipalities who desire greater direction, assistance or reassurance in carrying out their Class EA process, particularly when interpreting the schedules, conducting Master Plans, and co¬ordinating with other legislation, particularly the Planning Act.

This document does not provide exhaustive direction on how to manage complex projects or Master Plans. First and foremost, the Class EA provides the framework for environmental assessment planning of municipal infrastructure projects to fulfill the requirements of the EA Act. The key elements of the framework are provided in Section A.2. The Class EA establishes principles and certain minimum mandatory requirements and has been set-up as a self assessment process which is flexible enough to allow different proponents to meet the needs of specific projects while ensuring that the requirements of the EA Act are met. If a proponent determines that it requires more specific direction, then it may be appropriate for them to develop their own guidance documents to provide supplementary direction for project managers.


A.1.2.6 Main Features of the 2000 Municipal Class EA


The 2000 Municipal Class EA retained the process identified in the previous Class EAs as well as much of the explanatory information that was previously provided. The document, however, was reformatted and reorganized for easier use. The main features are:


The 2000 document was amended in 2007. A summary of the amended document is discussed in Section A.1.6.