January 23, 2006

Declaration allows waterfront park plans to proceed subject to specified conditions

The Ontario government will allow plans for developing five city parks along Toronto's waterfront to proceed without an environmental assessment, providing certain conditions are met. The Don River, Sherbourne, Commissioners, Don Greenway and Lake Ontario parks are part of the Toronto Waterfront Revitalization Corporation's 20-year plan to revitalize the waterfront. "These parks will revitalize former industrial land, create new wildlife habitats and help to invigorate the city's waterfront," said Environment Minister Laurel Broten.

At the corporation's request, the Ministry of Environment (MOE) undertook a review to determine the need for environmental assessments (EAs) for each of the parks. In a declaration order, the ministry ruled that five EAs would not be necessary, and has placed conditions on the parks' development to further protect the environment.

The declaration order exempting the projects from EAs, requires the corporation to:

*Consult with the public on the detailed designed plans for each of the parks;

*Work with the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority during the design phase to protect natural features and aquatic and terrestrial habitat, and prevent flooding and erosion;

*Consult with the Ministry of Natural Resources on any work near Lake Ontario or the Don River that might affect fishery resources;

*Develop monitoring and remedial plans for construction impacts on surface and groundwater and for reducing air emissions from dust and odours;

*Minimize or eliminate discharges of sediment into Lake Ontario and the Don River; and

*Report back to the ministry on contaminated soil and clean up efforts.

The corporation must now seek environmental approvals under the Environmental Protection Act and Ontario Water Resources Act.

Corporation chair Robert Fung welcomed the ministry's decision. " The Parks Declaration Order will help us achieve real results in a timely manner and protect the environment," he said, noting that designs for the Don River Park in the West Don Lands and Lake Ontario Park in the Port Lands will begin soon. The parks projects are being funded in part under ReNew Ontario, the province's five-year, $30-billion infrastructure investment plan.

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