The planning and design of municipal infrastructure projects must meet the requirements of the Environmental Assessment Act , a provincially legislated document that governs all public undertakings that have the potential to affect the environment. In this sense, the term "environment" is broadly applied to include the natural, social, cultural, constructed, and economic environments. The Environmental Assessment Act essentially defines a planning and design process that proponents of projects must follow to ensure that all environmental impacts are considered, and any effects appropriately mitigated, before their project is implemented.
Municipal Class Environmental Assessment Process
Many projects related to municipal water supply, sanitary sewerage and transportation systems are similar in nature, are carried out routinely, and have predictable and mitigable environmental effects. In order to facilitate the undertaking of such routine municipal projects, the Municipal Engineers Association (MEA) has defined a simplified planning and design process known as a "Municipal Class Environmental Assessment".
The Municipal Class Environmental Assessment (Class EA) process categorizes proposed municipal projects according to their anticipated environmental impact, and calls for increasingly stringent review requirements as the magnitude of the anticipated environmental impact increases. The Ministry of the Environment has formally recognized the Municipal Class EA process as meeting the requirements of the Environmental Assessment Act , and the MEA has issued a comprehensive document to detail the process.
T he majority of activities undertaken by the Public Works Department are pre-approved through the Municipal Class EA planning process - as they have minimal adverse environmental effects and compromise of general maintenance and operational activities.
While activities such as new sidewalks/pathways, road resurfacing, streetscaping, new turning lanes, etc., are pre-approved under the Municipal Class EA process, there is a recommendation to ensure that some type of public notification is provided.
However, major projects such as road widenings, road extensions, new stormwater management facilities, etc., have the potential for more adverse environmental impacts. As such, these projects require a more comprehensive review process involving mandatory consultation with the general public.
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