Water and wastewater projects/activities in general are discussed in Section C.2. This section addresses key considerations when developing and assessing alternatives.
When generating and evaluating alternative solutions in Phases 2 and 3 of the Municipal Class EA process, the proponent shall bear the following considerations in mind:
1. Land-Use Planning Objectives
Land-use planning objectives refer to the plans and policies as identified in provincial plans and municipal Official Plans and Secondary Plans. At a provincial level, key policies/plans include the Provincial Policy Statement (PPS), the Places to Grow Act (2005) and associated Growth Plan(s).
The Ontario Planning Act requires that municipal Official Plans contain “goals, objectives, and policies established primarily to manage and direct physical change and the effects on the social, economic, and natural environment”. The Planning Act prescribes a rigorous process by which Official Plans are to be developed and periodically reviewed, including opportunities for extensive public consultation. Once adopted by the local municipal council, Official Plans are formally approved by the Ontario Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs and, where applicable, are required to be in conformity with provincial objectives. Once in place, Official Plans are legal documents, and therefore, provide the specific municipal policies and objectives that need to be considered including, but not limited to, those for: urban areas, growth areas/corridors, rural areas, neighbourhoods and residential areas, employment areas, transit and transit-supportive development, commercial, institutional, recreational, natural, open space, agricultural, and special policy areas.
2. Natural Heritage Features
The Natural Environment consists of the following typical elements:
Within this natural environment framework, significant natural heritage features may be identified at the local, regional, provincial or federal level reflecting municipal, Conservation Authority, provincial or federal designations/policies. Key elements such as valleylands, fish habitat, evaluated wetlands (including Provincially Significant Wetlands), significant portions of the habitat of threatened and endangered species, Areas of Natural and Scientific Interest (ANSI), and Environmentally Sensitive Areas (ESAs) will constitute significant natural heritage features. Woodlands and wildlife habitat may also constitute significant features if certain criteria are met.
Natural heritage features should be identified early in the EA process to determine significant features and potential impacts. Significant natural heritage features should be avoided where possible. Where they cannot be avoided, then effects should be minimized where possible, and every effort made to mitigate adverse impacts.
In most cases, municipalities have specific policies related to natural environmental protection. These policies, along with regional, provincial, and/or federal policies should be identified as part of the EA process.
3. Social Environment
The Social Environment includes existing communities, residential areas and recreational areas. Significant negative impacts to the social environment should be avoided where possible. Where they cannot be avoided, then effects should be minimized where possible, and every effort made to mitigate adverse impacts. Key considerations are the overall community impacts to residential property and access, community facilities and access, recreational facilities and access, pedestrians, cyclists, noise impacts and air quality.
In most cases, municipalities have specific policies related to social environmental protection. These policies, along with regional and/or provincial policies should be identified as part of the EA process.
4. Cultural Environment
Cultural Environment refers to cultural heritage and archaeological resources in the environment. These are defined as follows:
Archaeological resources includes artifacts, archaeological sites and marine archaeological sites. The identification and evaluation of such resources are based upon archaeological fieldwork undertaken in accordance with the Ontario Heritage Act.
Areas of archaeological potential means areas with the likelihood to contain archaeological resources. Criteria for determining archaeological potential are established by the Province, but municipal approaches which achieve the same objective may be applied. Archaeological potential is confirmed through archaeological fieldwork undertaken in accordance with the Ontario Heritage Act.
Built heritage resources means one or more significant buildings, structures, monuments, installations or remains associated with architectural, cultural, social, political, economic or military history and identified as being important to a community. These resources may be identified through designation or heritage conservation easement under the Ontario Heritage Act, or listed by local, provincial or federal jurisdictions.
Cultural heritage landscape means a defined geographical area of heritage significance which has been modified by human activities and is valued by a community. It involves grouping(s) of individual heritage features such as structures, spaces, archaeological sites, and natural elements, which together form a significant type of heritage form, distinctive from that of its constituent elements or parts. Examples may include, but are not limited to, heritage conservation districts designated under the Ontario Heritage Act; and villages, parks, gardens, battlefields, mainstreets and neighbourhoods, cemeteries, trailways, and industrial complexes of cultural heritage value.
Cultural heritage resources include built heritage, cultural heritage landscapes, and marine and other archaeological sites. The Minister of Culture (MCL) is responsible for the administration of the Ontario Heritage Act and is responsible for determining policies, priorities and programs for the conservation, protection and preservation of Ontario’s heritage, which includes cultural heritage landscapes, built heritage and archaeological resources. MCL has released a series of resource guides on the Ontario Heritage Act, entitled the Ontario Heritage Tool Kit.
Significant cultural heritage and archaeological resources features should be avoided where possible. Where they cannot be avoided, then effects should be minimized where possible, and every effort made to mitigate adverse impacts, in accordance with provincial and municipal policies and procedures. Cultural heritage features should be identified early in the process in order to determine significant features and potential impacts.
5. First Nations/Aboriginal Peoples
This includes, but is not limited to:
6. Economic Environment
Economic Environment includes commercial and industrial land uses and activities. It also includes the financial costs associated with the alternatives, including construction, operation, maintenance, and property costs.
Significant impacts to property should be avoided where possible. Where they cannot be avoided, the effects should be minimized where possible, and every effort made to mitigate adverse effects. Property impacts include direct impacts on: access, parking, and buildings, and indirect impacts where by relocating property lines the property owner is placed out of compliance with local standards (e.g. building setback requirements, etc.).
8. Evaluation of Alternative Solutions
When evaluating alternative solutions, the following considerations should be kept in mind: