Municipal Class Environmental Assessment

5.1       Consultation Plan

Section A.3 of Part A identifies the mandatory requirements for public notification and consultation. This, however, is the minimum. Proponents must develop an approach to consultation which incorporates the minimum mandatory requirements while reflecting the needs of the specific project, the community in which it is located, and potentially affected and interested stakeholders.

Accordingly, at the outset of the study, the proponent should develop a consultation plan identifying:

  • who is to be consulted
  • what they will be consulted about
  • where they will be contacted in the process
  • how they will be consulted, i.e. what methods will be used
  • how input from the public will be integrated in the study and the decision-making
  • the manner in which comments and concerns will be responded to
  • how the plan will be monitored to determine its effectiveness

When developing a consultation plan, the main considerations are:

  • the scope of the problem or opportunity being addressed
  • the level of complexity and sensitivity 
  • potential environmental issues and impacts
  • specific community characteristics and needs
  • available resources
  • approaches used on other similar studies in the community
  • appropriate methods for the specific project

A consultation plan is not necessarily a formal document. Rather, it is a proposed approach or methodology which is determined early in the study and may be documented, for example, in a study design, minutes, memo to file, or a report.

5.2       Methods of Public Consultation

There are numerous methods for contacting and consulting with the public including the following:



  • Notification

• notices in newspapers (mandatory)

• notices mailed to persons directly affected (mandatory)

• notices posted in community facilities

• notices sent to residents associations, specified interest groups, etc.

• radio / TV announcements

• notices posted at the site of the project

•     Provision of Study Information

• information package distributed by mail or made available at a community facility or municipal office


  • newsletter
  • display panels in a community facility
  • website
  • Information Collection / Exchange

•    public information centre; public open house; public consultation centre; public involvement centre

  • workshops:
  • for the public
  • for specific interest or community groups
  • for representatives of different groups
  • public meeting
  • small group meeting
  • meeting on a one-to-one basis
  • “kitchen table” meeting
  • field trip / site visit
  • comment sheets, surveys or questionnaires
  • telephone calls
  • personal visits
  • creation of a public liaison committee 
  • representation on the Study Team


For a more detailed description of consultation methods and techniques, one can refer to the most current consultation guide prepared by the Ministry of the Environment.

Most projects will likely require a combination of methods.  When determining the appropriate methods to use, the following should be considered:

  • potential audience size
  • level of involvement - i.e. potential for information exchange and input
  • degree of information exchange that can be expected 
  • potential to identify issues
  • potential to resolve contentious or outstanding issues
  • special needs of the participants


5.3       Information about the Municipal Class EA

It is the responsibility of the proponent to explain the Municipal Class EA including the provision to request a Part II order, to the public.

Proponents should make a copy of the Municipal Class EA available for review to those who request it and have a copy available at public locations when the study is being discussed. It is also desirable to make available to members of the public, a summary of the main points related to the Municipal Class EA. A sample public handout about the Municipal Class EA is provided. It was prepared for a hypothetical project in a hypothetical municipality.

When referring to a specific project, it is desirable to identify where the project is in terms of the Class EA process.


5.4       Resolution of Conflicts and Disputes

The Municipal Class EA identifies the need for consultation early in and throughout the process and the need for those with concerns to discuss them with the proponent.

There may be projects, however, where issues cannot be resolved and so conflict resolution techniques may be appropriate. The EAA Branch describes the main types of conflict resolution as follows.


Facilitation involves a third party to assist in the discussion of issues and concerns among the participants and assist them in arriving at mutually agreeable solutions.  Facilitation refers to a flexible approach that encourages the open exchange of ideas and opinions. Facilitation is an art - it requires listening carefully to hear what a person is really saying, ensuring others are receptive to what is being said, and encouraging all sides to work co-operatively in developing solutions. In some cases, facilitation may result in a consensus - when an agreement is reached to the satisfaction of everyone. In other cases, facilitation may at least result in a narrowed list of issues that remain to be resolved.


Negotiation is possible when all sides - the proponent and the parties - want resolution of the outstanding issues and are willing to engage in negotiations. An outside person is not always necessary, but may be helpful in assisting the proponent and interested parties to form their own positions and responses to what the other proposes.

Negotiations often require those in dispute to consider trade-offs and compromise. Effective negotiation results in proponents and interested parties arriving at mutually agreeable solutions.


Mediation may be required when the proponent and participants have reached the point where no further discussion is possible without the intervention of a neutral third party. Mediation is a voluntary, more formalized conflict resolution process, and may include the mediator meeting with each side separately to identify what the problems are and then create a new process to resume discussions. Disputes requiring mediation are often emotionally charged and require skilful handling by an experienced professional. The mediator has no authority to impose a settlement. The desired outcome of mediation includes an improved relationship between the proponent and parties, together with solutions that are mutually acceptable.


Arbitration is a technique involving a neutral third-party acceptable to all sides, who is retained to hear the positions of those in dispute and then issue a decision that resolves the conflict or dispute. The decision of the arbitrator is binding on all parties. Arbitration is a formal conflict resolution process and is used only when the proponent and interested parties cannot arrive jointly at an acceptable resolution. However, any decision of the arbitrator must respect the requirements of the EA Act.



The Town of North Falls is undertaking the study of Patricia Avenue and is planning this project under Schedule ‘C’ (Municipal Road Projects) in accordance with the requirements of the Municipal Class EA.

The purpose of this handout is twofold:

-       to provide an overview of the Municipal Class Environmental Assessment Process; and,

-       to explain the role of the public in the process and opportunities to get involved




The purpose of the Ontario Environmental Assessment Act (EA Act) is “the betterment of the people of the whole or any part of Ontario by providing for the protection, conservation and wise management in Ontario of the environment”. Environment is applied broadly and includes the natural, social, cultural, built and economic components.

Environment Assessment (EA) is a decision making process to promote good environmental assessment planning. The key features are:

-       Early consultation

-       Consideration of a reasonable range of alternatives

-       Assessment of environmental effects

-       Systematic evaluation of alternatives

-       Clear documentation and traceable decision making

There are 2 basic types of EA processes:

•               Individual EA       • requires Terms of Reference approved by the Ministry of the Environment (MOE)

• requires that EA report be submitted to MOE for review and approval by the province


  • Class EA              • project is approved subject to compliance with an approved Class EA process for a group or “class” of projects




The Municipal Class EA is an approved Class EA process which applies to municipal infrastructure projects including roads, water, wastewater, and transit.

There are four types of projects or activities:

Schedule ‘A’       

  • municipal maintenance, operational and emergency activities

• pre-approved therefore municipality can proceed without further approval under the EA Act

Schedule ‘A+’                • pre-approved, however the public is to be advised prior to project implementation

Schedule ‘B’                   • projects with the potential for some adverse environmental effects

• these are approved subject to a screening process including consultation with directly affected public and agencies

Schedule ‘C’  

 • projects with the potential for significant environmental effects which must proceed under the planning and documentation procedures outlined in the Municipal Class EA document




The role of those members of the public with an interest in a study is to provide background information to advise the proponent of their support and concerns, and to review and provide comments and input about the study findings. For Schedule C projects there are three mandatory opportunities for public involvement as shown below.

The opportunity to get involved will usually be done through notices in the newspaper. This is, however, the minimum and on many projects there will be additional opportunities for example, to attend public information centres, community workshops and / or municipal council meetings. Members of the public with an interest in the study should ask to be placed on the study mailing list to receive notification of the consultation opportunities for a specific project.





To provide your comments or to be placed on the study mailing list, please contact the following:

Study Contact:       Municipality / Proponent

                                                                                                                Mailing Address



E – mail


Change in Project Status – Appeal Provision

It is recommended that all stakeholders (including the proponent, public and review agencies) work together to determine the preferred means of addressing a problem or opportunity. If you have any concerns, you should discuss them with the proponent and try to resolve them. In the event that there are major issues which cannot be resolved, you may request the Minister of the Environment by order to require a proponent to comply with Part II of the EA Act before proceeding with a proposed undertaking which has been subject to Class EA requirements.  This is called a Part II Order. The Minister will make one of the following decisions:

1. deny the request

2. refer the matter to mediation

3. require the proponent to comply with Part II of the EA Act by one of the following:

  • submitting the ESR for government review and approval, or,
  • completing an individual EA for government review and approval, or
  • preparing a Terms of Reference governing the preparation of an Individual EA.


Additional information regarding this appeal process may be obtained from the Town of North Falls.

All stakeholders are urged to try to resolve issues since it is preferable for them to be resolved by the municipality in which a project is located, rather than at the provincial level.