• Public Work Class EA Backgrounder

    The Environmental Assessment Act provides for the protection, conservation and sound management of Ontario’s environment, where environment is broadly defined to include not only the natural environment, but also the socio-economic, cultural and built environments.

    The Ministry of Infrastructure Public Work Class Environmental Assessment (PW Class EA) is a planning tool that consists of procedures that allow the Ministry of Infrastructure to comply with requirements of the Environmental Assessment Act using a streamlined approach. These procedures are designed to ensure that the Ministry of Infrastructure takes into account the potential effects of its projects on the environment (i.e., completes an environmental assessment) before deciding how to proceed.

    The PW Class EA describes a variety of Ministry of Infrastructure projects in each of three groups or categories (A, B, and C). While Category A projects are minor in scale with minimal or no adverse effects and are exempt from EA requirements, there are streamlined processes outlined to assess the environmental impacts of Category B and C projects that are aligned with the complexity of the projects and potential for impacts:

    • Category B projects have some potential for environmental effects, but they are predictable and mitigation measures are well understood. They are subject to a standard evaluation of environmental effects that is documented in a simplified consultation and documentation report.
    • Category C projects are more complex and have the potential for significant environment effects. They require consideration and evaluation of alternatives and are subject to a rigorous evaluation of environmental effects and documentation in the form of a detailed Environmental Study Report.

    Consultation is an essential element when planning Category B and C projects. For Category B projects, consulted parties normally include government ministries and agencies, parties that may be affected by a project (e.g., owners of adjacent properties) and others who may be interested in a project (e.g., community groups). Category C projects are subject to a more comprehensive consultation, including mandatory points of consultation with the general public at key milestones. For both category levels, the final documents must be posted for a mandatory 30-day public comment period.