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Ontario Provincial Environmental Review (9-ON-a)

Information current as of 2018
In Ontario, a developer may need approval from the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (Ministry) for an undertaking pursuant to the Ontario Environmental Assessment Act. R.S.O. 1990, c. E.18, s. 5(3). An undertaking is defined as "a major commercial or business enterprise or activity or a proposal, plan or program...that is designated by the regulations." R.S.O. 1990, c. E.18, s. 1. Projects less than 115 kV are excluded from any definition of undertaking. O. Reg. 116/01, s. 3(1), 4(1).

Ontario Regulation 116/01, Electricity Projects does not apply to transmission lines associated with a generation facility that either:

  • Constructed as a back-up for the site, or
  • Uses biogas, biomass, landfill gas, natural gas, or waste biomass as its primary power source, has a nameplate capacity of 25 MW or less, and either:
    • does not sell any electricity to the IESO-administered markets and does not distribute any electricity offsite, or
    • has a ratio of output energy to input energy of more than 0.60.

O. Reg. 116/01, s. 2(1).

The Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks regulates provincial environmental reviews of transmission projects pursuant to the Ontario Environmental Assessment Act and the Electricity Projects Regulation.



Provincial Environmental Review Process

9-ON-a.1 – Is the Project Associated With a Category B Generation Facility?

A developer must pursue the Environmental Screening Process if the project is more than 2 (two) kilometers (km) in length, designed to transmit electricity at 115 kilovolts (kV) or more, and is not associated with a Category B generation facility. O. Reg. 116/01, s. 4(1), (4). Category B generation facility are defined as:

  • A generation facility that has a name plate capacity of one megawatt or more but less than five megawatts and that uses oil as its primary power source;
  • A generation facility that has a name plate capacity of less than 200 MW and that uses water power as its primary power source;
  • A generation facility that has a name plate capacity of two (2) MW or more and that uses wind energy as its primary power source;
  • A generation facility that has a name plate capacity of five (5) MW or more and that uses biomass or natural gas as its primary power source;
  • A generation facility that has a name plate capacity of 10 MW or more and that uses waste biomass as its primary power source;
  • A generation facility that has a name plate capacity of 25 MW or more and that uses biogas as its primary power source; or
  • A generation facility that has a name plate capacity of 25 MW or more, uses landfill gas as its primary power source and is located at a waste disposal site the establishment of which does not or did not require approval under section 5 of the Ontario Environmental Assessment Act.

R.S.O. 1990, c. E.18, s. 5(1); O. Reg. 116/01, s. 4.

Projects in this category are still subject to the Ontario Environmental Assessment Act, but are exempt from completing the Environmental Assessment (EA) process if the developer fulfills the requirements of the Environmental Screening Process as outlined in Part B of the Guide to Environmental Assessment Requirements for Electricity Projects. This Guide is given the force of law under section 42(1) of the Ontario Environmental Assessment Act and section 1(1) of the Electricity Projects Regulation. See 9.27.

Even if a project qualifies to use the Environmental Screening Process, the Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (Minister) can still give the developer a notice to prepare an EA. O. Reg. 116/01, s. 4(5).

9-ON-a.2 – Provide Notice of Commencement of a Screening

A developer must provide a public Notice of Commencement of Screening in at least one local newspaper with circulation in the vicinity of the project. If there are no newspapers with circulation in the vicinity of the project, the developer must determine another equivalent method of providing notice to the general public. The developer must also mail or deliver notice to:

  • Adjacent landowners and tenants;
  • The EA Coordinator at the appropriate Regional Office of the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks;
  • The local Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry office (for hydroelectric projects);
  • Other affected government agencies and municipalities; and
  • Other potentially interested or affected parties such as local interest groups, businesses, and members of the public that may be directly affected by some aspect of the project.

The notice must include:

  • The name of the developer;
  • A brief description of the project;
  • A map showing the project location;
  • A statement that the project is subject to the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks Environmental Screening Process for electricity projects; and
  • A contact name, address, and phone number.

Any notice required to be given by the Environmental Screening Process may be given together with notices required by other statutes if the notice clearly states which notices are being combined and includes all required information for each notice. Guide to Environmental Assessment Requirements for Electricity Projects.

The developer can also voluntarily skip to the environmental review if they decide that the project entails significant negative environmental effects or public issues that warrant a more detailed look. See 9.16 for the environmental review within the Environmental Screening Process.

9-ON-a.3 to 9-ON-a.4 – Prepare Project Description Outline

A developer must begin the screening phase of the Environmental Screening Process by preparing a project description outline that includes all phases and components of the project through the project's construction, operation, and retirement. If the developer knows of any future planned expansions while applying the Environmental Screening Process, those details are considered part of the project. The screening can rely primarily on existing and/or readily obtainable information. Guide to Environmental Assessment Requirements for Electricity Projects.

The developer must then apply the screening criteria to the project as described in the project description outline, which requires the developer to answer a series of yes-or-no questions about the project. The purpose of the screening criteria is to identify potential negative environmental effects the project could have. If the developer determines that the project may have a negative environmental effect that can be addressed with mitigation measures, the developer will still need to respond "yes" to that question so that the developer's mitigation plans can be reviewed later by agencies and the public. The screening criteria can be located in Appendix C of the Guide to Environmental Assessment Requirements for Electricity Projects.

9-ON-a.5 – Prepare a Screening Report (If Applicable)

The developer can skip issuing a screening report and move directly to the environmental review stage of the Environmental Screening Process (beginning at 9.16) if during the screening stage that the project includes potential environmental effects or public concerns that require further assessment and resolution. In making this decision, the developer should consider:

  • The success of attempts to minimize effects through the selection of the site, the technology, the facility design, or through the use of reasonable mitigation and impact management;
  • How effectively the proponent can, or is prepared to, manage any negative effects or resolve issues and address concerns;
  • The significance of any net effects;

how commitments to future actions are accepted by government agencies, nongovernment organizations, the community and affected property owners; and

  • Whether additional studies and analysis are likely to provide tangible results.

Guide to Environmental Assessment Requirements for Electricity Projects.

The developer must prepare a Screening Report to record the results of the screening if there are no likely significant negative effects, no unresolved concerns, and the advantages of the project outweigh the disadvantages. A Screening Report must include the following:

  • Background information including a description of the project, the purpose of the project and an outline of the basic technologies to be used;
  • A map of the project location;
  • A description of the local environment and conditions;
  • A description of any other required approvals and permits;
  • A completed screening criteria checklist;

information, analysis and discussion of mitigation and impact management measures for any potential negative effects identified through application of the screening criteria, including an assessment of the significance of any net effects;

  • Commitments to mitigation, impact management, monitoring and/or further consultation and the mechanisms for their implementation and reporting;
  • Information on public and agency consultation, including:
    • A description of the public and agency consultation program and consultation activities/events;
    • A list of agencies contacted or consulted;
    • A summary of public and agency concerns or issues, and how they have been resolved or addressed;
    • Copies of key public and agency comments;
    • A description of how environmental effects or issues may be addressed through other required approvals;
    • A review of the overall environmental advantages and disadvantages of the project, to include discussion of any benefits that may offset negative environmental effects; and
    • A summary of all mitigation, impact management and monitoring commitments.

Guide to Environmental Assessment Requirements for Electricity Projects.

Supporting information like technical reports must be referenced in the Screening Report but do not have to be included in the Screening Report itself. However, the developer must supply any such supporting information and any correspondence about the Environmental Screening Process if an agency or a member of the public requests it. The developer should also send a partial or complete draft of the Screening Report to any key agencies and stakeholders for comments before the formal review period. Guide to Environmental Assessment Requirements for Electricity Projects.

9-ON-a.6 – Provide Notice of Completion of a Screening Report

The developer must provide Notice of Completion of a Screening Report and publish it in at least one local newspaper with circulation in the vicinity of the project. If there are no newspapers with circulation in the vicinity of the project, the developer must determine another equivalent method of providing notice to the general public. The notice must include:

  • The information required for the Notice of Commencement of a Screening (description of the project, proponent, location, project is being reviewed under the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks' Environmental Screening Process for electricity projects, and contact information);
  • The results of the Screening (e.g., there are no significant negative effects, the proponent intends to proceed with the project subject to mitigation, other commitments and other approvals);
  • The location(s) where the Screening Report may be reviewed;
  • Notification that:
    • If a concerned party has outstanding environmental concerns about the project, it should raise these concerns with the proponent;
    • If the proponent and the concerned party are unable to resolve the matter, the concerned party can make a written request to the Director of the EAAB, Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks to elevate the project to either an Environmental Review or to an individual EA. A copy of the elevation request must be sent to the proponent;
    • Elevation requests must be made in accordance with the provisions set out in the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks' Environmental Screening Process for electricity projects;
  • The address of the Director of the EAAB, Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks;
  • The last date when requests for elevation will be received.

The developer is also required to mail copies of the notice to the EA Coordinator at the appropriate Regional Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks office, adjacent landowners and tenants, and anyone else who has expressed an interest in the project. In addition to those people, the developer should also mail notices to other potentially affected and interested agencies, municipalities, landowners, residents, businesses, and local interest groups regardless of whether these people have expressed interest in the project.

Guide to Environmental Assessment Requirements for Electricity Projects.

9-ON-a.7 – Review Screening Report

The developer must make the Screening Report available for public and agency review for 30 calendar days in a "convenient" location in the project area, such as a public library, municipal building, or community center, and include the location in the notice. The developer should also try to make the Screening Report available on the internet if possible. Guide to Environmental Assessment Requirements for Electricity Projects.

Concerned parties are encouraged to inform the developer of their concerns before taking any official action. The developer should be prepared to resolve any concerns that may be flagged during the review period, and if the developer commits to address concerns raised during this review period, that commitment will be recorded and filed with the developer's Screening Report or Environmental Review Report. The developer is required to fulfill these commitments while pursuing their project. If it appears this process will take longer than the 30-day review period allows, the developer and the concerned party can together set an end date for their negotiations that is past the original 30 days and notify the Ministry's EAAB Director of the change. Guide to Environmental Assessment Requirements for Electricity Projects.

9-ON-a.8 to 9-ON-a.9 – Have There Been Any Requests to Elevate the Project?

The developer must submit a Statement of Completion to the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks when the 30-day review period ends and there have been no requests to elevate the project. The developer must retain a copy on site or somewhere it is readily available for the life of the project. A Statement of Completion signifies the end of the Environmental Screening Process and that the developer has satisfied the requirements of the Environmental Assessment Act. In implementing the project, the developer must adhere to the details of the Screening Report.

Guide to Environmental Assessment Requirements for Electricity Projects.

9-ON-a.10 – Submit Elevation Request

Any agency or member of the public can submit a request to the EAAB Director to elevate the project to either an Environmental Review with the Environmental Screening Process or to an Individual EA if unresolved concerns remain before the 30-day review period ends. The developer should also receive a copy of any elevation requests. Upon receipt of an elevation request, the developer must send a copy of the Screening Report, the Environmental Review Report if applicable, any other documentation related to the project, and an optional submission addressing the issues raised in the elevation request. If the concerned party and developer are engaged in negotiations and mutually decide to extend the review period to accommodate the negotiations, the concerned party has seven calendar days after the agreed upon end date to submit a request. Guide to Environmental Assessment Requirements for Electricity Projects.

A request to elevate a project must include:

  • The name of the project and proponent;
  • The basis of the request;
  • Whether they are requesting that the project be elevated to an Environmental Review or to an individual EA;
  • The specific nature of the environmental concerns on which the request is based;
  • The benefits of requiring the proponent to elevate the project;
  • Information about any efforts to discuss/resolve these concerns/environmental effects with the proponent;
  • Details of any correspondence between the party and the proponent; and
  • Any other matters considered relevant by the requesting party.

Guide to Environmental Assessment Requirements for Electricity Projects.

9-ON-a.11 to 9-ON-a.12 – Review Elevation Request for Approval

The Director of the EAAB must review the elevation request for approval. In addition to the views of the developer and the requester(s), the Director must consider the following issues:

  • The basis of the request;
  • The views of other government agencies that have been consulted by the developer;
  • The extent and nature of public concern;
  • The potential for significant negative environmental effects;
  • The developer's Screening Report and/or Environmental Review Report and any related project documentation;
  • The developer's public consultation program and attempts at dispute resolution;
  • The public benefits of subjecting the project to an Environmental Review within the screening process or to an individual EA; and
  • Any other matter considered relevant by the Director.

Guide to Environmental Assessment Requirements for Electricity Projects.

The Director can also refer a request to mediation or ask the developer to perform more studies before making his decision, neither of which are reviewable by the Minister. In both cases, the Director will provide notice in writing to the developer and the requester stating the reasons for the decision. Mediation is to be carried out in accordance with Section 8 of the Environmental Assessment Act. Within 30 days of receiving either the mediation report or the additional information, the Director can deny the request (with or without conditions), require the developer to conduct an Environmental Review, or recommend to the Minister that an Individual Environmental Assessment (IEA) be required.

9-ON-a.13 to 9-ON-a.14 – Has the Request to Elevate Been Denied?

If the request is denied or denied with conditions, the Director must notify the developer and the requester in writing stating the reasons for the denial. The notice must say that the Director's decision becomes final within 15 days of receiving notice (which is deemed received five (5) days after mailing) unless a party requests the Minister's review of the decision. Guide to Environmental Assessment Requirements for Electricity Projects.

A party can request that the Minister review the Director's decision on an elevation request. The request must be in writing and include the following:

  • The basis of the request;
  • The specific nature of the environmental concerns on which the request is based;
  • How the Director’s decision fails to address the requester’s environmental concern(s);
  • A description of any additional information that the Director did not consider in making his/her decision; and
  • Any other matters considered relevant by the requesting party.

Guide to Environmental Assessment Requirements for Electricity Projects.

The Minister will either confirm or vary the Director's decision in writing within 45 calendar days of receiving the request, and the Minister's decision is not subject to review. Guide to Environmental Assessment Requirements for Electricity Projects.

If the final decision is not to elevate the project, then the developer must complete a Statement of Completion form found in Appendix G of the Guide to Environmental Assessment Requirements for Electricity Projects. The developer must submit a copy of the Statement of Completion to the Director of the EAAB and keep a copy on site or easily accessible from the site for the life of the project. Guide to Environmental Assessment Requirements for Electricity Projects.

9-ON-a.15 – Is the Developer Required to Prepare an IEA?

The Director of the EAAB can recommend to the Minister to require an IEA. The Minister must decide within 45 calendar days to either require the developer to engage in the IEA process or deny the elevation request with or without conditions. The Minister must notify the developer and the requester in writing, stating the reasons for the decision, and the developer can use any documents from their Environmental Screening Process to prepare documents for the IEA process. Guide to Environmental Assessment Requirements for Electricity Projects.

9-ON-a.16 – Require Developer to Conduct Environmental Review

The Director must notify the developer and the requester in writing, including reasons, of the decision to require an environmental review within the Environmental Screening Process. The notice must say that the Director's decision becomes final within 15 days of receiving notice (which is deemed received five (5) days after mailing) unless a party requests the Minister's review of the decision.

A party can request that the Minister review the Director's decision on an elevation request. The request must be in writing and include the following:

  • The basis of the request;
  • The specific nature of the environmental concerns on which the request is based;
  • How the Director’s decision fails to address the requester’s environmental concern(s);
  • A description of any additional information that the Director did not consider in making his/her decision; and
  • Any other matters considered relevant by the requesting party.

Guide to Environmental Assessment Requirements for Electricity Projects.

The Minister will either confirm or vary the Director's decision in writing within 45 calendar days of receiving the request, and the Minister's decision is not subject to review. Guide to Environmental Assessment Requirements for Electricity Projects.

9-ON-a.17 – Publish Notice of Commencement of an Environmental Review

A developer must provide a public Notice of Commencement of an Environmental Review in at least one local newspaper with circulation in the vicinity of the project. If there are no newspapers with circulation in the vicinity of the project, the developer must determine another equivalent method of providing notice to the general public. The developer must also mail or deliver notice to:

  • Adjacent landowners and tenants;
  • The EA Coordinator at the appropriate Regional Office of the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks;
  • The local Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry office (for hydroelectric projects);
  • Other affected government agencies and municipalities; and
  • Other potentially interested or affected parties such as local interest groups, businesses, and members of the public that may be directly affected by some aspect of the project.

The notice must include:

  • The name of the developer;
  • A brief description of the project;
  • A map showing the project location;
  • A statement that the project is subject to the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks Environmental Screening Process for electricity projects; and
  • A contact name, address, and phone number.

Guide to Environmental Assessment Requirements for Electricity Projects.

9-ON-a.18 – Conduct Environmental Review

The developer must conduct any necessary studies, analyses, and assessments of the environmental effects of the project and to identify their significance. These assessments are similar to those at the screening stage but are more complex at the environmental review stage. The process, at minimum, requires the developer to:

  • Describe the potential environmental effects related to specific environmental concerns;
  • Conduct necessary data collection, studies and analysis to understand the basis, extent, duration, inter-relationships and magnitude of the potential effects;
  • Identify, develop and describe environmental mitigation or impact management measures, facility design or layout modifications or other special measures to reduce or minimize the potential effects or concerns;
  • Determine net effects or concerns that remain once standard and customized mitigation, impact management and issue resolution measures have been applied;
  • Evaluate the significance of any remaining net effects or concerns;
  • Consult further with agencies, the public, First Nations and other Aboriginal communities, non-government organizations etc. to confirm analysis and assessments, commitments to mitigation and resolution of issues; and
  • Conduct an overall assessment of the environmental advantages and disadvantages of the project.

Guide to Environmental Assessment Requirements for Electricity Projects.

In considering significance, the developer should assess the value of the resources affected, the magnitude of the effect, the geographic extent of the effect, the duration and frequency of the effect, the irreversibility of the effect, and the ecological and social context. The review should also compare the overall advantages and disadvantages of the project. Guide to Environmental Assessment Requirements for Electricity Projects.

9-ON-a.19 – Prepare an Environmental Review Report

The developer must prepare an Environmental Review Report once they determine they have completely assessed and addressed all the negative environmental effects, concerns, or issues. The Environmental Review Report must include a project description, an outline of the technologies the developer plans to use, a map of the project's location, and a description of the surrounding environment. The Environmental Review Report must also contain:

  • The results of the analysis, evaluation, and assessment conducted for the subject effects, concerns or issues, including an assessment of the significance of any negative net effects;
  • Commitments to mitigation, impact management, monitoring and/or further consultation and the mechanisms for their implementation and reporting;
  • Details of any changes to commitments made in the Screening Report;
  • A summary of public and agency consultation during the environmental review, including:
    • A description of the public and agency consultation program and consultation activities and events;
    • A list of agencies contacted or consulted;
    • A summary of public and agency concerns or issues, and how they have been resolved or addressed; and
    • Copies of key public and agency comments;
  • A description of how environmental effects or issues may be addressed by other required approvals;
  • Summaries or, where appropriate, complete technical reports supporting the Environmental Review findings;
  • An overall assessment of the advantages and disadvantages of the project, to include discussion of any benefits that may offset negative environmental effects; and
  • A summary of all mitigation, impact management and monitoring commitments made during the environmental review stage.

Guide to Environmental Assessment Requirements for Electricity Projects.

If the developer skipped preparing a Screening Report and proceeded directly to the environmental review stage, then their Environmental Review Report must also contain:

  • Any other required approvals and permits;
  • A completed screening criteria checklist;
  • Information, analysis and discussion of mitigation and impact management measures for any potential environmental effects addressed during the screening stage;
  • Commitments to mitigation, impact management, monitoring or further consultation and mechanisms to ensure their implementation, as determined during the screening stage;
  • Information on public and agency consultation during the screening stage, including a summary of public and agency concerns or issues that were addressed or resolved during the Screening stage; and
  • A summary of all mitigation, impact management and monitoring commitments made at the Screening stage.

Guide to Environmental Assessment Requirements for Electricity Projects.

Supporting information like technical reports must be referenced in the Environmental Review Report but do not have to be included in the Environmental Review Report itself. However, the developer must supply any such supporting information and any correspondence about the Environmental Screening Process if an agency or a member of the public requests it. The developer should also send a partial or complete draft of the Environmental Review Report to any key agencies and stakeholders for comments before the formal review period. Guide to Environmental Assessment Requirements for Electricity Projects.

9-ON-a.20 – Provide Notice of Completion of an Environmental Review Report

The developer must provide Notice of Completion of an Environmental Review Report and publish it in at least one local newspaper with circulation in the vicinity of the project. If there are no newspapers with circulation in the vicinity of the project, the developer must determine another equivalent method of providing notice to the general public. The notice must include:

  • The information required for the Notice of Commencement of an Environmental Review (description of the project, proponent, location, project is being reviewed under the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks' Environmental Screening Process for electricity projects, and contact information);
  • The results of the Environmental Review (e.g., there are no significant negative effects, the proponent intends to proceed with the project subject to mitigation, other commitments and other approvals);
  • The location(s) where the Environmental Review Report may be reviewed;
  • Notification that:
    • If a concerned party has outstanding environmental concerns about the project, it should raise these concerns with the proponent;
    • If the proponent and the concerned party are unable to resolve the matter, the concerned party can make a written request to the Director of the EAAB, Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks to elevate the project to either an Environmental Review or to an individual EA. A copy of the elevation request must be sent to the proponent;
    • Elevation requests must be made in accordance with the provisions set out in the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks' Environmental Screening Process for electricity projects;
  • The address of the Director of the EAAB, Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks;
  • The last date when requests for elevation will be received.

The developer is also required to mail copies of the notice to the EA Coordinator at the appropriate Regional Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks, adjacent landowners and tenants, and anyone else who has expressed an interest in the project. In addition to those people, the developer should also mail notices to other potentially affected and interested agencies, municipalities, landowners, residents, businesses, and local interest groups regardless of whether these people have expressed interest in the project.

Guide to Environmental Assessment Requirements for Electricity Projects.

9-ON-a.21 –Review Environmental Review Report

The developer must make the Environmental Review Report available for public and agency review for 30 calendar days in a "convenient" location in the project area, such as a public library, municipal building, or community center, and include the location in the notice. The developer should also try to make the Environmental Review Report available on the internet if possible. Guide to Environmental Assessment Requirements for Electricity Projects.

Concerned parties are encouraged to inform the developer of their concerns before taking any official action. The developer should be prepared to resolve any concerns that may be flagged during the review period, and if the developer commits to address concerns raised during this review period, that commitment will be recorded and filed with the developer's Environmental Review Report. The developer is required to fulfill these commitments while pursuing their project. If it appears this process will take longer than the 30-day review period allows, the developer and the concerned party can together set an end date for their negotiations that is past the original 30 days and notify the Director of the EAAB of the change. Guide to Environmental Assessment Requirements for Electricity Projects.

9-ON-a.22 to 9-ON-a.23 – Have There Been Any Requests to Elevate the Project?

If there have been no requests to elevate the project, then the developer must submit a Statement of Completion to the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks when the 30-day review period ends and there have been no requests to elevate the project. The developer must retain a copy on site or somewhere it is readily available for the life of the project. A Statement of Completion signifies the end of the Environmental Screening Process and that the developer has satisfied the requirements of the Environmental Assessment Act. In implementing the project, the developer must adhere to the details of the Environmental Review Report.

Guide to Environmental Assessment Requirements for Electricity Projects.

9-ON-a.24 – Submit Elevation Request

Any agency or member of the public can submit a request to the EAAB Director to elevate the project to an Individual EA if unresolved concerns remain before the 30-day review period ends. The developer should also receive a copy of any elevation requests. Upon receipt of an elevation request, the developer must send a copy of the Environmental Review Report, any other documentation related to the project, and an optional submission addressing the issues raised in the elevation request. If the concerned party and developer are engaged in negotiations and mutually decide to extend the review period to accommodate the negotiations, the concerned party has seven calendar days after the agreed upon end date to submit a request. Guide to Environmental Assessment Requirements for Electricity Projects.

A request to elevate a project must include:

  • The name of the project and proponent;
  • The basis of the request;
  • A statement they are requesting that the project be elevated to an individual EA;
  • The specific nature of the environmental concerns on which the request is based;
  • The benefits of requiring the proponent to elevate the project;
  • Information about any efforts to discuss/resolve these concerns/environmental effects with the proponent;
  • Details of any correspondence between the party and the proponent; and
  • Any other matters considered relevant by the requesting party.

Guide to Environmental Assessment Requirements for Electricity Projects.

9-ON-a.25 to 9-ON-a.26 – Review Elevation Request for Approval

The Director of the EAAB must review the elevation request for approval. In addition to the views of the developer and the requester(s), the Director must consider the following issues:

  • The basis of the request;
  • The views of other government agencies that have been consulted by the developer;
  • The extent and nature of public concern;
  • The potential for significant negative environmental effects;
  • The developer's Screening Report and/or Environmental Review Report and any related project documentation;
  • The developer's public consultation program and attempts at dispute resolution;
  • The public benefits of subjecting the project to an individual EA; and
  • Any other matter considered relevant by the Director.

Guide to Environmental Assessment Requirements for Electricity Projects.

The Director can also refer a request to mediation or ask the developer to perform more studies before making his decision, neither of which are reviewable by the Minister. In both cases, the Director will provide notice in writing to the developer and the requester stating the reasons for the decision. Mediation is to be carried out in accordance with Section 8 of the Environmental Assessment Act. Within 30 days of receiving either the mediation report or the additional information, the Director can deny the request (with or without conditions) or recommend to the Minister that an Individual Environmental Assessment (IEA) be required.

9-ON-a.27 to 9-ON-a.29 – Has the Project Been Elevated to an IEA?

If the request to elevate is denied or denied with conditions, the Director must notify the developer and the requester in writing stating the reasons for the denial. The notice must say that the Director's decision becomes final within 15 days of receiving notice (which is deemed received five (5) days after mailing) unless a party requests the Minister's review of the decision. Guide to Environmental Assessment Requirements for Electricity Projects.

A party can request that the Minister review the Director's decision on an elevation request. The request must be in writing and include the following:

  • The basis of the request;
  • The specific nature of the environmental concerns on which the request is based;
  • How the Director’s decision fails to address the requester’s environmental concern(s);
  • A description of any additional information that the Director did not consider in making his/her decision; and
  • Any other matters considered relevant by the requesting party.

Guide to Environmental Assessment Requirements for Electricity Projects.

The Minister will either confirm or vary the Director's decision in writing within 45 calendar days of receiving the request, and the Minister's decision is not subject to review. Guide to Environmental Assessment Requirements for Electricity Projects.

If the final decision is not to elevate the project, then the developer must complete a Statement of Completion form found in Appendix G of the Guide to Environmental Assessment Requirements for Electricity Projects. The developer must submit a copy of the Statement of Completion to the Director of the EAAB and keep a copy on site or easily accessible from the site for the life of the project. Guide to Environmental Assessment Requirements for Electricity Projects.

The Director of the EAAB can recommend to the Minister to require an IEA. The Minister must decide within 45 calendar days to either require the developer to engage in the IEA process or deny the elevation request with or without conditions. The Minister must notify the developer and the requester in writing, stating the reasons for the decision, and the developer can use any documents from their Environmental Screening Process to prepare documents for the IEA process. Guide to Environmental Assessment Requirements for Electricity Projects.

9-ON-a.30 – Is the Project Less Than 2 Kilometers Long?

If the project is not associated with a Category B generation facility and is not longer than 2 kilometers, then it is not an "undertaking" under the Ontario Environmental Assessment Act and no further environmental review is required. O. Reg. 116/01, s. 3(1); R.S.O. 1990, c. E.18, s. 1.

9-ON-a.31 – Determine Which Type of Environmental Assessment is Required for the Project

The developer must determine whether the project requires an Individual EA (IEA) or a Class Environmental Assessment for Minor Transmission Facilities (Class EA). A complete application for environmental review (Application) consists of Terms of Reference and either IEA or a Class EA, depending on the project. R.S.O. 1990, c. E.18, s. 5(2), 13(2). Even if a project would typically qualify to use a Class EA, the Minister can order a developer to instead comply with the IEA requirements. R.S.O. 1990, c. E.18, s. 16.

Note: This narrative will use Environmental Assessment, or "EA," to refer to both Individual Environmental Assessments and Class Environmental Assessments, as many of the requirements for each are identical. This narrative will use either IEA or Class EA only where the requirements apply to one or the other.

9-ON-a.32 – Terms of Reference

The developer must submit to the Minister proposed Terms of Reference that outline the preparation of the EA to be performed. R.S.O. 1990, c. E.18, s. 6(1), 13.2(1). The Terms of Reference must be on a form supplied by the Ministry and must include a statement that the environmental assessment will be prepared in accordance with the requirements set out in the Ontario Environmental Assessment Act, any requirements prescribed especially for the type of undertaking with which the developer wants to proceed, a detailed description of the requirements for the preparation of the environmental assessment, and a description of the consultations made by the developer and the results of each consultation. R.S.O. 1990, c. E.18, s. 6(2)--(3), 13.2(3); R.R.O. 1990, Reg. 334, s. 1.1.

Terms of Reference prepared ahead of a Class EA must also:

  • Indicate that the Class EA will be prepared in accordance with the requirements set out in R.S.O. 1990, c. E.18, s. 14(2);
  • Indicate that the Class EA will be prepared in accordance with such requirements as may be prescribed for the type of project to which it relates; or
  • Set out in detail the requirements for the preparation of the Class Environmental Assessment.

R.S.O. 1990, c. E.18, s. 13.2(2).

The developer must also consult with any interested persons when preparing both Terms of Reference and an Environmental Assessment (EA). R.S.O. 1990, c. E.18, s. 5.1, 13.1.

9-ON-a.33 – Provide Public Notice of Terms of Reference

The developer must provide notice of the Terms of Reference to the public by the deadline and in the manner required by the Director. R.S.O. 1990, c. E.18, s. 6(3.1), 13.2(3). The notice must include information on where and when the public can view the Terms of Reference, a reminder that the Ministry accepts public comments on the EA, and any other information the Director requires. R.S.O. 1990, c. E.18, s. 6(3.2), 13.2(3). The developer must also provide the information included in the notice to the clerk of each municipality to be affected by the project and to any other persons the Director requires by the deadline for giving public notice. R.S.O. 1990, c. E.18, s. 6(3.3)–(3.4), 13.2(3).

9-ON-a.34 – Comment on Terms of Reference

Any person may inspect the Terms of Reference and provide comments in writing to the Ministry. If the commenter wishes for the Minister to consider the comment in deciding whether to approve the Terms of Reference, they must submit the comment by the prescribed deadline. R.S.O. 1990, c. E.18, s. 6(3.5)–(3.6), 13.2(3).

9-ON-a.35 – Refer Terms of Reference Matter(s) to Mediation (Optional)

The Minister may also refer the Terms of Reference to mediation in accordance with section 8 of the R.S.O. 1990, c. E.18. R.S.O. 1990, c. E.18, s. 6(5), 13.2(3). Deadlines may differ for Terms of Reference that are sent to mediation, and if so, are prescribed. R.S.O. 1990, c. E.18, s. 6(7), 13.2(3). The Minister can appoint one or more persons or the Ontario Environmental Review Tribunal (Tribunal) to act as mediators to resolve any disputes or concerns the Minister identifies in connection with the project. R.S.O. 1990, c. E.18, s. 8(1)–(2). The Minister must notify the developer, the clerk of each municipality the project affects, anyone who submitted comments, and anyone else the Minster thinks they should notify about the referral. R.S.O. 1990, c. E.18, s. 8(3). Additionally, the developer must pay the fees and reasonable expenses of the mediators. R.S.O. 1990, c. E.18, s. 8(10). The mediation is not open to the public unless the mediators decide otherwise, and the parties to the mediation are the developer and anyone else the Minister identifies as a party. R.S.O. 1990, c. E.18, s. 8(4)–(5). The mediators must provide their decision in a report due to the Minister within 60 days of being appointed unless the Minster specifies an earlier deadline. R.S.O. 1990, c. E.18, s. 8(6)–(7). Only the Minister can make any part of the report public, and they must make the whole report public after they issue a final decision on the Terms of Reference. R.S.O. 1990, c. E.18, s. 8(8)–(9).

9-ON-a.36 to 9-ON-a.37 – Review Terms of Reference for Approval

The Minister must review the Terms of Reference for approval. The Minister must approve the Terms of Reference if they are satisfied that an EA prepared in accordance with the proposed Terms of Reference would be consistent with the purpose of the R.S.O. 1990, c. E.18 and the public interest. In approving proposed Terms of Reference, the Minister may include any amendments they consider necessary in their approval. R.S.O. 1990, c. E.18, s. 6(4), 13.2(3). Decisions made under the Ontario Environmental Assessment Act are not subject to review. R.S.O. 1990, c. E.18, s. 11.4(5).

9-ON-a.38 – Provide Notice of the Decision

The Minister must provide notice of their decision to the developer by the prescribed deadline. R.S.O. 1990, c. E.18, s. 6(6), 13.2(3).

9-ON-a.39 – Individual Environmental Review (IEA) or Class Environmental Review for Minor Transmission Facilities (Class EA)

Once the developer's Terms of Reference has been approved, they may begin preparing either an Individual Environmental Assessment (IEA) or Class Environmental Assessment for Minor Transmission Facilities (Class EA) for the project in accordance with the approved Terms of Reference. R.S.O. 1990, c. E.18, s. 6.1(1), 14(1).

Unless the approved Terms of Reference provides differently, the IEA must consist of:

  • A description of the purpose of the project;
  • A description of and a statement of the rationale for:
    • The project;
    • the alternative methods of carrying out the project; and
    • the alternatives to the project;
  • A description of,
    • the environment that will be affected or that might reasonably be expected to be affected, directly or indirectly by the project, the alternative methods of carrying out the project and the alternatives to the project;
    • the effects that will be caused or that might reasonably be expected to be caused to the environment by the project, the alternative methods of carrying out the project and the alternatives to the project; and
    • the actions necessary or that may reasonably be expected to be necessary to prevent, change, mitigate or remedy the effects upon or the effects that might reasonably be expected upon the environment by the project, the alternative methods of carrying out the project and the alternatives to the project;
  • An evaluation of the advantages and disadvantages to the environment of the project, the alternative methods of carrying out the project and the alternatives to the project;
  • A description of any consultation about the project by the developer and the results of the consultation;
  • A brief summary of the IEA organized in accordance with the matters set out above;
  • A list of studies and reports which are under the control of the developer and which were done in connection with the project or matters related to the project;
  • A list of studies and reports done in connection with the project or matters related to the project of which the developer is aware and that are not under the control of the developer; and
  • Where the IEA is for an undertaking with a fixed location, at least two unbound, well-marked, legible and reproducible maps that are an appropriate size to fit on a 215-millimeter by 280-millimeter (roughly 8.5-inch by 11-inch) page, showing the location of the undertaking and the area to be affected by it and may show alternative proposals:
    • one of which shall be a simplified base map suitable for reproduction in any notices that may be published; and
    • the other may include more detail such as a 1:10,000 scale Ontario Base Map.

R.S.O. 1990, c. E.18, s. 6.1(2)–(3); R.R.O. 1990, Reg. 334, s. 2.

Unless the approved Terms of Reference provides differently, the Class EA must consist of:

  • A description of the class of projects to which it applies;
  • A description of the reasons for using a class environmental assessment with respect to projects in the class;
  • A description of the similarities and differences to be expected among the projects in the class;
  • A description of the expected range of environmental effects that may result from proceeding with projects in the class;
  • A description of measures that could be taken to mitigate against adverse environmental effects that may result from proceeding with projects in the class;
  • A description of the process to be used by a developer of a project to consult with the public and with persons who may be affected by the project;
  • A description of the method to be used to evaluate a project with respect to the matters described in the previous three bullet points;
  • A description of the method to be used to determine the final design of a project based upon the evaluation described in the previous bullet point; and
  • Such other information as may be prescribed.

R.S.O. 1990, c. E.18, s. 14(2)–(3).

9-ON-a.40 – Submit EA to the Ministry

The developer must submit the prepared EA to the Ministry. R.S.O. 1990, c. E.18, s. 6.2(1), 15. Once submitted, the developer may amend or withdraw the EA at any time before the deadline for completion of the Ministry review or after that deadline if the Minister has imposed by order conditions allowing it. R.S.O. 1990, c. E.18, s. 6.2(2)–(3), 15.

9-ON-a.41 – Provide Public Notice of EA Submission

The developer must provide public notice of their EA submission by the prescribed deadline and in the manner required by the Director. R.S.O. 1990, c. E.18, s. 6.3(1), 15. The notice must include where and when members of the public can review the EA, a reminder that the Ministry accepts public comments on the EA, and any other information the Director requires. R.S.O. 1990, c. E.18, s. 6.2(2), 15. The developer must also provide the information included in the notice to the clerk of each municipality to be affected by the project and to any other persons the Director requires by the deadline for giving public notice. R.S.O. 1990, c. E.18, s. 6.3(3)–(4), 15.

9-ON-a.42 – Inspect and Comment on EA

Any person may inspect the EA and provide comments in writing to the Ministry. If the commenter wishes for the Minister to consider the comment in deciding whether to approve the EA, they must submit the comment by the prescribed deadline. R.S.O. 1990, c. E.18, s. 6.4(1)–(2), 15.

9-ON-a.43 – Prepare Ministry Review of EA

The Minister must prepare a review of the EA that also considers any timely public comments by the prescribed deadline. R.S.O. 1990, c. E.18, s. 7(1)–(2), 15. The Director can extend the deadline for Ministry review if they think there is a compelling ("unusual, unexpected, or urgent") reason for doing so. R.S.O. 1990, c. E.18, s. 7(3), 15.

9-ON-a.44 to 9-ON-a.46 – Provide Notice of EA Deficiencies (If Applicable)

If the Director finds that the EA is deficient in relation to the approved Terms of Reference and the purpose of the R.S.O. 1990, c. E.18, they may notify the developer of the deficiencies at least 14 days before the Ministry review is complete. R.S.O. 1990, c. E.18, s. 7(4), 15. The developer has seven (7) days after receiving notice of the deficiencies to address and remedy them, and if after seven (7) days the Director is not satisfied that the deficiencies have been remedied, the Minister may reject the EA. R.S.O. 1990, c. E.18, s. 7(5)–(6), 15. If the Minister rejects the EA at this stage, the Director must provide notice of the rejection to the developer, the clerk of each municipality the project affects, and the public before the deadline for completing the Ministry review. R.S.O. 1990, c. E.18, s. 7(7), 15.

9-ON-a.47 – Provide Notice of Ministry Review Completion

The Director must provide notice that the Ministry review of the EA is complete to the developer and the clerk of each municipality the project affects in a manner the Director considers suitable. R.S.O. 1990, c. E.18, s. 7.1(1)–(2). The notice must include where and when members of the public can review the Ministry review, a reminder that the Ministry accepts public comments on the Ministry review, and any other information as prescribed. R.S.O. 1990, c. E.18, s. 7.1(3), 15.

9-ON-a.48 – Comment on Ministry Review

The public may review the Ministry review of the EA in the places and times set out in the public notice. The public may also comment in writing on the project, the EA, and the Ministry review by the prescribed deadline if the Minister should consider the comment when deciding on the EA. R.S.O. 1990, c. E.18, s. 7.2(1)–(2), 15. Any person may request in writing before the public comment period closes asking the Minister to refer the developer's Application to the Tribunal for a hearing and decision. R.S.O. 1990, c. E.18, s. 7.2(3)–(4), 15. Upon receiving such a request, the Minister must refer the application to the Tribunal unless the Minister believes that the request is frivolous or that a hearing is unnecessary or may cause undue delay in delivering a decision on the Application. R.S.O. 1990, c. E.18, s. 9.3(1)–(2), 15. The Minister may also choose which parts of a request for referral to honor if they think only some of the matters are appropriate for a hearing. R.S.O. 1990, c. E.18, s. 9.3(4), 15. For the process used if an Application is referred to the Tribunal, skip to 9.53 and then return to this portion of the process.

9-ON-a.49 – Refer EA Matter(s) to Mediation (Optional)

The Minister can appoint one or more persons or the Tribunal to act as mediators to resolve any disputes or concerns the Minister identifies in connection with the project. R.S.O. 1990, c. E.18, s. 8(1)–(2), 15. The Minister must notify the developer, the clerk of each municipality the project affects, anyone who submitted comments on either the EA or the Ministry review of the EA, and anyone else the Minster thinks they should notify about the referral. R.S.O. 1990, c. E.18, s. 8(3), 15. Additionally, the developer must pay the fees and reasonable expenses of the mediators. R.S.O. 1990, c. E.18, s. 8(10), 15. The mediation is not open to the public unless the mediators decide otherwise, and the parties to the mediation are the developer and anyone else the Minister identifies as a party. R.S.O. 1990, c. E.18, s. 8(4)–(5), 15. The mediators must provide their decision in a report due to the Minister within 60 days of being appointed unless the Minster specifies an earlier deadline. R.S.O. 1990, c. E.18, s. 8(6)–(7), 15. Only the Minister can make any part of the report public, and they must make the whole report public after they issue a final decision on the EA. R.S.O. 1990, c. E.18, s. 8(8)–(9), 15.

9-ON-a.50 to 9-ON-a.51 – Review Application for Approval

The Minister must decide on an Application by the prescribed deadline. R.S.O. 1990, c. E.18, s. 10(2), 15. The Minister must consider the following when deciding on an Application:

  • The purpose of the Act;
  • The approved Terms of Reference for the EA;
  • The EA;
  • The Ministry review of the EA;
  • The comments submitted for both the EA and the Ministry review of the EA;
  • If applicable, the mediators’ report given to the Minister; and
  • Such other matters as the Minister considers relevant to the application.

R.S.O. 1990, c. E.18, s. 9(2), 15.

The Minister can decide an Application with approval from the Lieutenant Governor in Council in one of three ways:

  1. The Minister can give approval to proceed with the project;
  2. The Minister can refuse to give approval to proceed with the project; or
  3. The Minister can give approval to proceed with the project subject to conditions the Minister considers necessary to further the purpose of the R.S.O. 1990, c. E.18 by specifying or requiring:
    • The methods and phasing of the carrying out of the project;
    • The works or actions to prevent, mitigate or remedy effects of the project on the environment,
    • Such research, investigations, studies and monitoring programs related to the project, and reports thereof, as the Minister considers necessary,
    • Such changes in the project as the Minister considers necessary,
    • That the developer enter into one or more agreements related to the project with any person with respect to such matters as the Minister considers necessary,
    • That the developer comply with all or any of the provisions of the environmental assessment that may be incorporated by reference in the approval; or
    • The time during which the project or any part thereof shall be commenced or carried out.

R.S.O. 1990, c. E.18, s. 9(1), 15.

The Minister can also defer deciding a matter relating to the Application if the Minister thinks it is appropriate because the matter is being considered in another forum, or for scientific or technical reasons. R.S.O. 1990, c. E.18, s. 11.1(1), 15. The Minister must give notice of the deferral, including written reasons for why the deferral is appropriate, to the developer and anyone who submitted comments to the Ministry. R.S.O. 1990, c. E.18, s. 11.1(4)–(5), 15.

Decisions made under the Ontario Environmental Assessment Act are not subject to review. R.S.O. 1990, c. E.18, s. 11.4(5).

9-ON-a.52 – Provide Notice of Decision

The Minister must notify the developer and anyone who submitted comments to the Ministry of their decision and provide the reasons for their decision to the developer. R.S.O. 1990, c. E.18, s. 9(3)–(4), 15.

9-ON-a.53 – Refer Application to Tribunal (Optional)

The Minister may refer an Application or part of an Application to the Tribunal for a decision. R.S.O. 1990, c. E.18, s. 9.1(1), 9.2(1), 15. As stated in 9.48 (Comment on Ministry Review), any person can also ask the Minister to refer an Application in part or in whole to the Tribunal, and if granted, the Minister and Tribunal follow the respective processes as though the Minister instigated the referral. R.S.O. 1990, c. E.18, s. 9.3(1), (3)–(4), 15. If the Minister refers only part of an Application to the Tribunal, then the Minister must provide notice of the referral to the developer and anyone who submitted comments on the Application and give them all information provided to the Tribunal. R.S.O. 1990, c. E.18, s. 9.2(4), 15.

If deciding on a whole Application, the Tribunal can make any of the three decision options that the Minister can make (approve, refuse, or approve with conditions; see 9.50 to 9.51), and the final decision must be consistent with the approved Terms of Reference. R.S.O. 1990, c. E.18, s. 9.1(2), (4), 15. Alternatively, if the Tribunal is only deciding some of the matters relating to the Application, it must follow any conditions imposed by the Minister on the referral and must consider the decisions the Minister plans to make on the rest of the Application. R.S.O. 1990, c. E.18, s. 9.3(2)–(3), 15. In both cases, the Tribunal must also consider the following:

  • The purpose of the R.S.O. 1990, c. E.18;
  • The approved Terms of Reference for the EA;
  • The Minister review of the EA;
  • Comments submitted on the EA and on the Ministry review of the EA; and
  • If applicable, the any public portions of the mediators' report.

R.S.O. 1990, c. E.18, s. 9.1(3), 9.2(5), 15.

The Tribunal must make its decision by the deadline the Minister sets, or by a later date if the Minister allows based on a sufficient reason (circumstances that are "unusual, urgent, or compassionate"). R.S.O. 1990, c. E.18, s. 9.1(5), 9.2(6), 15. The Tribunal can also defer deciding a matter relating to the Application if the Tribunal thinks it is appropriate because the matter is being considered in another forum, or for scientific or technical reasons. R.S.O. 1990, c. E.18, s. 11.1(2), 15. The Tribunal must give notice of the deferral, including written reasons for why the deferral is appropriate, to the developer and anyone who submitted comments to the Ministry. R.S.O. 1990, c. E.18, s. 11.1(4)–(5), 15.

The Tribunal's decision on all or part of an Application is subject to the Minister's review. R.S.O. 1990, c. E.18, s. 11.2(1)–(2), 15. Within 28 days of receiving the Tribunal's decision (or longer if the Minister chooses by order), the Minister may, with the approval of the Lieutenant Governor in Council, issue and send to anyone who received a copy of the Tribunal's decision:

  • An order varying the decision of the Tribunal;
  • An order substituting their decision for that of the Tribunal's; or
  • A notice to the Tribunal requiring the Tribunal to hold a new hearing respecting all or part of its decision.

R.S.O. 1990, c. E.18, s. 11.2(2), (4), 15.

The Minister must notify anyone who received a copy of the Tribunal's decision that the Minister has issued an order or notice affecting the Tribunal's decision or that the Minister plans to do so within a period specified in the notice. R.S.O. 1990, c. E.18, s. 11.2(3), 15. The Tribunal's decision does not go into effect until the time for the Minister to review the decision expires. R.S.O. 1990, c. E.18, s. 11.3, 15.

9-ON-a.54 – Refer Matters Relating to Application to Another Tribunal (Optional)

The Minister or the Tribunal can refer matters relating to the Application to another tribunal if it is appropriate under the circumstances. R.S.O. 1990, c. E.18, s. 11(1), (7), 15. The Minister or Tribunal can set conditions on this referral, including whether there is to be a hearing by the other tribunal, and the other tribunal's decision is considered to be a decision of the Minister or Tribunal. R.S.O. 1990, c. E.18, s. 11(3), (6), 15.


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