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New Report Demonstrates Need for Municipal Class Environmental Assessment Reform
A new report commissioned by the Residential and Civil Construction Alliance of Ontario (RCCAO) has again highlighted the need for reforming the Municipal Class Environmental Assessment (MCEA).
OGRA, working in conjunction with the Municipal Engineers Association (MEA), engaged its members in an effort to help identify projects where the existing approach to MCEA was proving unnecessarily costly and lengthy. Municipalities identified numerous examples where the MCEA process, which is intended to be a streamlined alternative to the individual EA process, caused standard municipal projects such as road reconstructions, bridge rehabilitation and flood-control projects imposed longer delays.
The report entitled “Case Studies That Support Reforming Ontario’s Municipal Class Environmental Assessment Process” provides summaries of 12 recent projects where the cumbersome MCEA process has contributed to lengthy and often unnecessary delays. The report examined nine road-oriented projects, two bridge projects and one water project intended to prevent sewage from entering the Ottawa River. Ten of the examined projects took between two and five years to complete the process.
“Under the current regime, rebuilding aging structures or constructing new infrastructure is taking too long under the MCEA process, especially when Ontario municipalities must ensure that our public works are more resilient to withstand severe weather events. This report shows that local governments and, by extension, taxpayers are paying too much to modernize our infrastructure systems,” says report author Frank Zechner, an environmental lawyer and engineer.
Andy Manahan, executive director of RCCAO, added: “This report represents one decade of effort on this issue, most of that in tandem with the Municipal Engineers Association. We are pleased that the Province released a discussion paper on modernizing Ontario’s EA program, and we hope that this report provides further impetus to reform the Municipal Class EA system. There is a lot of overlap in consultation processes between the Planning Act and the MCEA requirements. Furthermore, municipalities are already addressing environmental issues in Official Planning and other processes, so there is unnecessary duplication.”
“This report re-enforces what municipalities have been experiencing for years. OGRA hopes that the province’s consultation process will show that it is possible to make the MCEA process faster and more affordable without compromising environmental protection,” said OGRA President Rick Kester.
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