The Ontario Ministry of the Environment has posted three “Code of Practice” documents related to environmental assessments for public comment on the Environmental Bill of Rights (EBR) registry. The comment period is for 90 days with a deadline of January 29th, 2007 for submissions. These three draft Codes of Practice are part of a series of environmental assessment guidance documents being prepared by the Environmental Assessment and Approvals Branch in response to the government’s June 2006 announcement concerning environmental assessment improvements.
To assist the government in developing an approach for dealing with concerns raised about the environmental assessment process generally and how it applies to projects in the waste, transportation/transit and energy sectors, cabinet directed the minister of the environment, in March 2004, to establish an advisory panel of expert practitioners to make recommendations for improvements. The advisory panel was created in June 2004 and their report was submitted in March 2005. Public consultation on the report was carried out in the spring and summer of 2005.
Based on the advisory panel’s recommendations and the subsequent public consultation, the government created an action plan for environmental assessment improvements which was announced to the public in June 2006.
One of the key components of the action plan is the development and release for public comment on six Codes of Practice on the Environmental Registry. The codes set out the ministry’s expectations for the content of a variety of environmental assessment documents and provide guidance on the roles and responsibilities of all participants in the environmental assessment process. The objective is to provide clear provincial direction on all key aspects of the environmental assessment process. This guidance is expected to increase transparency and accountability and reduce time lines for the preparation and review of environmental assessments. Comments on the potential for these documents to reduce time lines in particular are invited to assist the ministry in its review of other initiatives within the environmental assessment improvements.
Three draft Codes of Practice are being posted on the Environmental Registry for public comment:
1. Preparing and Reviewing Terms of Reference for Environmental Assessments in Ontario.
2. Consultation in Ontario’s Environmental Assessment Process; and,
3. Using Mediation in Ontario’s Environmental Assessment Process.
OWMA will be reviewing and commenting on the codes within the context of the EA Advisory Panel recommendations and the effectiveness of the codes in addressing the deficiencies in the current EA Act and approval process for private sector proponents.
All members are invited to submit comments to OWMA for inclusion in an association submission.
Copies of the EBR posting and the three Codes of Practice are available on the OWMA website www.owma.org