April 26, 2004

Canada-Ont agreement will co-ordinate EA process for projects subject to both acts

A proposed agreement between the federal and Ontario governments on environmental assessment co-operation will co-ordinate the environmental assessment process for projects that are subject to both jurisdictions. The draft Canada-Ontario Agreement on Environmental Assessment Co-operation has been posted on the Environmental Bill of Rights registry for a 30-day comment period running to May 14, 2004.

The proposed agreement will establish administrative mechanisms and guide federal-provincial co-operation for the environmental assessment (EA) of projects subject to both the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act and the Ontario Environmental Assessment Act. It will establish a single point of contact for projects and will set up a more effective and consistent process in which each level of government can fulfill its EA responsibilities in a timely manner, while contributing to environmental protection. Specific terms of the agreement will:

- preserve each government's authority and legislative requirements;

- provide for effective consultation between parties to determine their EA responsibilities;

- set out guidelines for determining a "lead party" responsible for administration of each co-operative EA;

- clarify the principles for carrying out a co-operative EA and describe the roles and responsibilities of the parties;

- provide for the development of project-specific work plans to make the EA process more timely and efficient;

- establish a single contact in each jurisdiction to co-ordinate consultation, to resolve process and content issues, and to ensure that parties meet established timelines;

- allow each party to use information generated by the co-operative process to make their EA decisions and to co-ordinate the timing of the announcement related to the proposed project; and

- provide for a continuing review of the bilateral agreement's effectiveness and a thorough evaluation three years after it comes into force.

Projects subject to both federal and provincial environmental assessment legislation include municipal and provincial projects that require federal environmental approvals, permits, licences, or involve federal funding, such as infrastructure projects. The draft EA co-operation agreement follows from Ontario's signing of the 1998 Canada-Wide Accord on Environmental Harmonization.

Comments may be sent in either official language to: Louise Knox, Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency Ontario Regional Office, 55 St Clair Ave E, Room 907, Toronto M4T 1M2; 416/952-1575, FAX 416/952-1573, E-mail louise.knox@ceaa-acee.gc.ca; or Jim O'Mara, Ontario Ministry of Environment Environmental Assessment and Approvals Branch, 2 St. Clair Ave W, Floor 12A, Toronto M4V 1L5; 416/314-7288, FAX 416/314-8452, E-mail eaabgen@ene.gov.on.ca.

Copies of the draft agreement may be viewed on the Web sites of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, www.ceaa-acee.gc.ca, or the Ontario Ministry of Environment, www.ene.gov.on.ca (EBR registry reference No PA04E0001).

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