Municipal Class Environmental Assessment Web Site
Articles on Resolutions for MCEA Reform
There has been considerable interest in the call for Resolutions regarding MCEA Reform. Links to a few articles have been included below;
Improving Municipal Class Environmental Assessment Processes
The Municipal Class Environmental Assessment (MCEA) process was developed by MEA to provide municipalities with a risk-based approach to comply with the Environmental Assessment Act for both capital projects and infrastructure maintenance activities. Over time, the MCEA process has become more complex, delaying projects and significantly increasing costs. In fact, a 2014 study by the Residential and Civil Construction Association of Ontario (RCCAO) showed that it was typically taking almost 27 months to complete the process for Schedule B and C projects, with study and consultant costs averaging $386,500 (not including municipal staff time).
A coalition of EA stakeholders, such as MEA, RCCAO, the Ontario Good Roads Association (OGRA) and many others, agree that EA reform is needed and have been pressing the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) to make changes.
Last February, a joint application for review was submitted through the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario and forwarded to the MOECC. The Ministry responded positively to the application in mid-April 2017 and committed to completing a comprehensive review by December 2018. A good summary of this is found in the Sept./Oct. 2017 edition of ReNew that you can find HERE. Although MOECC accepted the arguments made both in the joint application and by the AG, little progress was made in 2017.
Now with the provincial election scheduled for June 2018, there are limited opportunities for the Ontario government to implement legislative and policy changes. Realizing that this window is closing, MEA and RCCAO organized a workshop on November 29, 2017 where 40 municipal practitioners shared their frustrations with the Class EA process. During the discussion, the top priority for EA reform was identified as improving the Part II Order Request (PIIOR) process.
We are pleased to report that MOECC has now put a team in place and is committed to beginning consultation in early 2018. This team will turn its attention to longer-term improvements that will require more discussion. Recognizing time is limited, MEA also wants to implement short-term EA improvements that can be implemented now.
Without speedy reform, Ontario municipalities risk losing out on funding for projects that are subject to the MCEA process. This simply is neither proper infrastructure planning nor good asset management.
For this campaign to gain traction, the involvement of municipalities across Ontario is vital. The Municipal Engineers Association (MEA) is calling on municipal councils to assist our push to improve the Class EA process. OGRA has distributed a draft resolution that was sent to all heads of council and municipal clerks in Ontario.
As a leader in your municipality, you can complement this work by participating in a letter writing campaign.
This is an important issue. Ensure your voice is heard!
Address to send your resolution to is as follows;
Hon. Chris Ballard
Minister of the Environment and Climate Change
11th Floor, 77 Wellesley St. W.
Toronto, ON M7A 2T5
Copies can also be sent to the local MPP or MPPs, as well as the Premier:
Premier Kathleen Wynne
Room 281, Main Legislative Building
Toronto, ON M7A 1A1
EVOLUTION OF THE MCEA: A WORKSHOP TO IMPROVE THIS VITAL PROCESS - SUMMARY
The MEA and RCCAO would like to thank all that attended the November 29th, jointly hosted workshop to discuss reform to the Municipal Class EA (MCEA). The space available for this workshop filled very quickly demonstrating the keen interest in this topic. It was useful to hear about EA reform priorities first hand from the 40+ proponents. A copy of the meeting notes, the 6 attachments to the meeting notes (including all presentations) and attachments 7 & 8 (refered to in discussions below) are included at the end of this message for your convenience.
To summarize the outcome of the workshop - MEA strongly agrees with the Ministry’s idea that a risk based approach should be incorporated into the EA process. Also, MEA will pursue both easy to implement short term EA improvements that can be implemented now, and longer term improvements that will take some time to implement.
You will note in the government’s Development Approval Roundtable Action Plan (see attachment 7) that the number two priority is to address delays in the PIIOR process, so we hope for prompt action.
To move forward, MEA proposes the following;
Short Term Improvements
PIIOR Form – On November 6th (see attachment 8), MEA suggested some minor revisions to the Ministry’s proposed PIIOR form that we feel will improve the form. MEA is asking MOECC to provide the finalized version of this form so we can begin encouraging it’s use. Alternatively, if finalizing the MOECC form is to be delayed, MEA will circulate our own form (that will be very similar to MOECC’s proposed form) for use by MCEA proponents.
Table B – As explained in our email of November 6th, somehow, in recent years, MOECC expanded the scope of a PIIOR process to include issues not related to the reason for the PIIOR. This is a radical change that the Ministry introduced to the PIIOR process without any legislative change, without any consultation with stakeholders and without any justification that explains thow the benefits outweigh the extra work. The use of this form is completely contrary to the idea that the EA process should follow a risk based approach – if nobody involved in the MCEA process has identified an issue, why would the proponent and MOECC resources be diverted to the issues contained in Table B? MEA is seeking confirmation from MOECC that the use of Table B will immediately be discontinued.
PIIOR Decisions – As per our email of November 6th, MEA will submit a major amendment to the MCEA that will replace section A.2.8 with wording that closely follows section 5.1 (water/sewer) and section 5.2 (road) of the original MCEA documents prepared in 1987. In summary, the amended section A.2.8 we propose would provide the Minister with 90 days (twice the 45 days included in the original MCEA) for the Minister to render a decision on any PIIOR. In the absence of a decision within the specified time, the proponent would be free to proceed with the project.
Companion Guide – MEA is just finalizing a Companion Guide to the MCEA. This guide offers proponents with practical advice to improve the MCEA process. In particular, this guide responds to high priority issues for proponents and offers guidance related to Climate Change and Indigenous Consultation. The final guide will be available shortly.
Longer Term Improvements
MEA will be pleased to work with MOECC and other stakeholders to;
EVOLUTION OF THE MCEA: A WORKSHOP TO IMPROVE THIS VITAL PROCESS
The workshop is being held in response to the February 2017 EBR application by RCCAO and MEA as well as the 2016 Annual Report of Ontario Auditor General on Environmental Assessment Reform. Further to the EBR application, the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change has committed to completing a review of the legislation, regulations and ministry policies impacting Municipal Class Environmental Assessments by December 2018. The workshop will provide updated information to stakeholders and allow stakeholders to express views and concerns to the Ministry and other stakeholders about needed improvements to the MCEA process and opportunities to participate in the Ministry’s review.
November 29th, 2017 - 12:30pm-4:00pm
Room 316, 50 High Tech Road, Richmond Hill, Ontario
There is no cost to attend the workshop however attendance will be limited to the first 40 registrants
WHO SHOULD ATTEND:
Officials and consultants involved in the Municipal Class EA process, including municipal planners, administrators, engineers as well as external planners, engineers and other consultants.
Click here to view the agenda.
Click here to Register online (Capacity of Workshop has been reached)
For the Final 2017 Five Year Review Report, please click here.
For the Final 2017 MCEA Annual Monitoring Report, please click here.
Reform of the MCEA Legislation
The MOECC is now reviewing the MCEA process and following the Auditor General’s report late last year on environmental assessments, the Residential and Civil Construction Alliance of Ontario (RCCAO), in partnership with the Municipal Engineers Association (MEA) submitted an application on February 3rd, 2017 to Ms. Dianne Saxe, Environmental Commissioner of Ontario concerning Municipal Class Environmental Assessments (MCEAs), pursuant to section 61 of the Environmental Bill of Rights. Supporting comments and review can be found HERE
Low Impact Development (LID) Stormwater Guidance Manual
The following report is intended to bring to the attention of the members of MEA, the proposed Low Impact Development (LID) Stormwater Management Guidance Manual, issues and comments from the MEA/MOECC liaison Committee.
The Draft LID stormwater Manual can be downloaded HERE
Article on MCEA Review
Please click here for an article in the Daily Commercial News regarding changes to the MCEA.
MCEA Session at the 2017 OGRA Conference
MEA sponsored a MCEA session during the 2017 OGRA Conference, which took place February 27 - March 1 at the Fairmont Royal York, Toronto. The session was titled "Debugging the MCEA: Saving Time & Money", and it included interesting and informative presentations from Trish Johnson (Lead, Better Best Practice Initiative, WaterTap Ontario), Frank Zechner (Lawyer, RCCAO), Reg Andres (Senior Infrastructure Specialist, R.V. Anderson), and our President, Paul Knowles. To view a video of the session containing slides from the presentations, please click here. To view pictures from the session, please click here.
RCCAO & MEA's 2017 EBR Application
For an overview of the 2017 EBR Application regarding the MCEA process, please click here.
MCEA Companion Guide
This document is a Companion Guide for the Municipal Class Environmental Assessment Manual. It contains clarifications for the following sections of the manual:
A.3.7 First Nations
A.3.5.3 Public Notice
A.2.1.1 Level of Complexity
A.2.8 Responsibility of the Public
A.3.5.1 Consultation Plan
A.3.5.2 Method of Contact
The MCEA Companion Guide can be found here.
Climate Change in Environmental Assessments
All Class EAs will need to be amended to include a climate change section. For a presentation on MOECC’s proposed Guide on Climate Change in Environmental Assessments, please click here.
Municipal Class EA Amendment: Auditor General's Report
The Auditor General’s Report, which was released on November 30th, 2016, includes Chapter 3 (3.06) which is 48 pages focused on Environment Assessments. MEA’s MCEA Committee supports many of the Auditor General’s recommendations and MOECC’s responses but highlights the following:
Recommendation 7 - “The Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change should improve the timeliness of its process for reviewing bump-up requests to ensure that its review does not cause unnecessary delays to projects.”
The Auditor General does an excellent job portraying the serious problem with the delays associated with decisions on bump-up requests and confirms that senior level sign off causes significant delay (110 days) with no added value. For years MEA has been calling for improvements to the process and delegation to the Director. We are very disappointed with MOECC’s response which primarily blames others for the delays.
General – The Auditor General’s investigation focusses on comprehensive (individual EA) and streamlined (Class EAs) but does not seem to address pre-approved Schedule A and A+ projects.
MOECC’s new legal interpretation of the EA Act in 2011, created a loophole that allows for a bump-up request on a pre-approved (Schedule A and A+) project. This is not practical and needs to be addressed.
Paul Knowles has already provided this information in an interview with the Daily Commercial News which could be found here. Further efforts to encourage action are recommended including that the MEA relay concerns with the MCEA process to the provincial opposition parties.
Municipal Class EA – Major Amendment Approved
On October 7, 2015, Minister Murray approved the ‘cycling’ amendment as attached. Although known as the ‘cycling’ amendment, the amendment actually includes:
An amendment to the Municipal Roads Projects table in Appendix 1 to include active transportation projects
An amendment to section A.1.5.2 Municipal Class EA Amending Procedure
An amendment to section A.2.8 Provision for Changing Project Status (Part II Order)
The addition of section A.2.10.6 The Clean Water Act to refer to Protection of Source Water for Municipal Water Systems
An amendment to Appendix 2 – Typical Mitigation Measures for Potential Environmental Effects to address climate change
An amendment to Appendix 6 – Sample Notices to update the notices
MCEA Position Paper
Earlier this year, Glen Murray, Minister of the Environment, said the he would be turning his attention to the administration of Environmental Assessment in Ontario and reviewing the “EA Permitting Process”, with an interest in looking for efficiencies. The Municipal Class EA is a large part of the current EA system in Ontario, and the Municipal Engineers Association, as custodian of the MCEA document, has a keen interest in the Ministry’s upcoming review. To prepare for this, MEA has prepared the the attached paper which outlines MEA’s proposed position and describes improvements which MEA recommends to the MCEA and the associated process. Serious problems persist with the Part II Order Request process and this paper explains MEA’s recommendation to address these problems.
The paper has now been submitted to MOECC and we are hopefull that these improvements will be implemented.
The Municipal Class Environmental Assessment (MCEA) process exists because it was originally approved by the Minister of the Environment in 2000. Amendments to what was originally approved have occurred. The latest version - 2015, is available. You can purchase a printed copy, or, if you are a Current Member, you can view a searchable version online. Non-members can purchase access to the searchable online manual.
Note: Please sign on as a member to get searchable web access and member rate on manual.
A free, non-searchable online version is available HERE
The Road Project Tables refer to a Cost Limit in millions of dollars for each schedule, that if not exceeded would categorize a project of that description as being a Schedule A, A+ or possibly a B. If the Capital cost of a project would exceed the Cost Limit, the project would require a designation as a Schedule B or C, depending on the project description.
For more information, please download the file listed below.
Note: The MTO have not been able to update this cost for 2013 and consequently continue to use 2012 costs.
New address for sending Part II orders:
The Ministry/Minister of Environment and Climate Change
77 Wellesley St West, 11th Floor
Toronto, ON, M7A 2T5
Fax 416 314 8452
Training & Events
MCEA offers Training Courses to suit your needs. To find out more, please Click Here
Access to the searchable online MCEA Manual for MEA members and paid subscribers
(Note you must be logged on to view this page and to purchase the manual at the Member discount rate)
To purchase the MCEA Manual
To Purchase an on line subscription Non members click HERE
Access to the free non searchable version of the MCEA manual