Municipal Class Environmental Assessment

Part A - Class EA Planning Process


Key elements of the approved environmental assessment planning process.

The Planning and Design process which follows is the environmental assessment planning process approved under the EA Act by which proponents may plan the municipal infrastructure projects to which this Class EA applies. The main elements of the process and its application are that it:

The Class EA provides a framework. It is not a checklist or detailed “how to” manual.

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 fulfil the requirements of the EA Act. It is neither an all inclusive “checklist” nor a detailed “how to” manual for proponents, project managers or stakeholders. It 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 it to develop its own guidance documents to provide supplementary direction for project managers.

The proponent must decide whether to apply the Class EA process to a specific project or to a group of projects, i.e. Master Plan. Proponents are also encouraged to co-ordinate with the Planning Act where appropriate.

The planning and design process was originally developed to apply to specific projects and is usually applied by the majority of municipalities in this manner. While proponents may use this process to meet the requirements of the EA Act, planning on a project by project basis may not always be the most appropriate in all situations. Municipalities are encouraged to prepare Master Plans to address groups of projects, an overall infrastructure system, a number of integrated systems or to co-ordinate the requirements of both the EA Act and the Planning Act through the development of long range multi-disciplinary plans.

Master Plans

The development of “Master Plans” provides relief to the proponent from the project-specific requirements of the EA Act. As long as such plans integrate the principles of successful environmental assessment planning outlined in Section A.1.1, the proponent will benefit in the long term by reducing the time and costs associated with undertaking specific studies to support individual Class EA project planning. Master Plans are discussed in Section A.2.7 and Appendix 4.

Integration with the Planning Act.

Proponents and stakeholders have identified the general desire to further encourage the co-ordination and integration of the planning processes and approvals under the EA Act and the Planning Act. An “integrated approach” has been developed and is addressed in Section A.2.9 and may be applied to a specific project or at the broader Master Plan level.

Proponent’s responsibility.

Proponents are encouraged to carry out Class EA planning at the earliest possible stage. The Class EA process can be most beneficial when it is applied early in the municipal planning process, while land use and servicing alternatives are still under consideration. By coordinating land-use planning under the Planning Act and infrastructure planning under the Class EA process, proponents can meet the requirements of both processes in the most expeditious manner. Regardless of the approach taken for any undertaking subject to this Class EA, the proponent is responsible for ensuring that the requirements of this Class EA and principles of its application are met.