Streamlining the Environmental Assessment Requirements for the Planning of Electrification of Commuter Rail Transit
Ontario Regulation 231/08
Ontario Regulation 116/01
Bill or Act:
Environmental Assessment Act
Summary of Decision:
On January 23, 2015 the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) posted a proposal to amend regulations made under the Environmental Assessment Act (EAA) to clarify that the Transit Projects Assessment Process (TPAP) described in Ontario Regulation 231/08 - Transit Projects and Metrolinx Undertakings (O. Reg. 231/08) can apply to the planning of all applicable aspects of a commuter rail electrification project. A decision was made to implement the regulatory amendments. The amendments to O. Reg. 231/08 and Ontario Regulation 116/01 - Electricity Projects (O. Reg. 116/01), were filed with the Registrar of Regulations on April 7, 2015 and will come into effect on July 1, 2015.
The regulatory amendments allow proponents of certain power supply infrastructure projects in relation to the electrification of a new or existing commuter rail corridor, to follow the TPAP rather than the Class Environmental Assessment for Minor Transmission Facilities (MTF Class EA). Since other aspects of commuter rail electrification were already subject to the TPAP (such as the power distribution components), the amendments in effect now allow all relevant aspects of commuter rail electrification projects to be planned under one accelerated environmental assessment (EA) process.
January 22, 2015
Summary of Proposal:
The Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change is proposing to clarify that the Transit Projects Assessment Process (TPAP) described in Ontario Regulation 231/08 - Transit Projects and Metrolinx Undertakings (Transit Regulation) can apply to the planning of all applicable aspects of a commuter rail electrification project. The current environmental assessment (EA) framework requires proponents to carry out separate processes to satisfy their respective EA requirements. Currently, the planning for the electricity supply to the commuter rail system is subject to the Class EA for Minor Transmission Facilities (MTF Class EA), while the distribution system for the electrification of commuter rail can follow the TPAP.
Purpose of Regulation:
The proposed regulatory amendment to the Transit Regulation and potential consequential amendments to Ontario Regulation 116/01 - Electricity Projects and the MTF Class EA would clarify that commuter rail electrification projects (i.e. supply and distribution) can follow a single, streamlined process under the Transit Regulation to satisfy proponents' EA requirements.
The Transit Regulation was intended to ease the regulatory burden on proponents of public transit projects by creating a time limited, streamlined EA process resulting in more certainty. The Transit Regulation also provides a planning process that is protective of the environment and preserves requirements of other EA processes such as public and aboriginal community consultation, assessment of potential negative effects on the environment, and mitigation measures.
Regulatory Impact Statement:
The proposed regulatory amendment(s) would clarify the environmental assessment requirements for the electrification of commuter rail transit; remove duplication; and establish a single, streamlined environmental assessment process for the supply of, and distribution of electricity to commuter rail transit. This approach would continue to allow for public consultation and provide the public with a clearer understanding of the overall project and the potential environmental impacts and mitigation measures being proposed.
This proposed amendment supports the government's climate change mandate. Streamlining the EA requirements for electrifying commuter rail lines would facilitate and expedite the removal of diesel-powered trains, which means improved local air quality and a reduction of greenhouse gases. An improved, modernized transit system with increased ridership also has inherent benefits to society (e.g. improved quality of life with less commuting time) and the economy (e.g. fewer cars on the road clears roads for the movement of goods).
Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change
Environmental Approvals Access and Service Integration Branch
135 St. Clair Avenue West
July 1, 2015