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MCEA process keeps getting longer: RCCAO

DCN Digital Media

According a recent study released by the Residential and Civil Construction Alliance of Ontario (RCCAO), there are a growing number of delays on Ontario infrastructure projects due to the Municipal Class Environment Assessment (MCEA) process.

TORONTO

According a recent study released by the Residential and Civil Construction Alliance of Ontario (RCCAO), there are a growing number of delays on Ontario infrastructure projects due to the Municipal Class Environment Assessment (MCEA) process.

The study notes that it now takes more than 26 months to go through the MCEA process compared to 19 months before — in addition to growing costs for studies and reports which have doubled over the past four years.

The RCCAO-commissioned report was prepared by Toronto environmental lawyer Frank Zechner.

“I am very disappointed that the process is actually getting worse. The Ministry of the Environment supports streamlining the approval process for basic or low-risk projects, but no substantive improvements have been made, said RCCAO executive director Andy Manahan.

The report also finds that the province’s infrastructure is growing inadequate, due to age and climate change, pointing to the December 2013 ice storm that struck the Greater Toronto Area.

It also says that delays in road reconstructions, bridge rehabilitation, flood control projects and upgrades to sewer and water works can increase public risk. The report recommends that approvals for aging infrastructure need to be made faster so the systems can remain more resilient to withstand wear and tear, and extreme weather events.

Other recommendations for the MCEA process include: fast-track schedule B and C Municipal Class projects in the same way that many transit EAs are fast-tracked, reduce scope and complexity of EA reports and background studies and combining Environmental Assessment Act and Planning Act requirements into joint public consultation, wherever possible.

“Ontario municipalities have limited resources and every effort should be made to reduce delays and costs for assessing the environmental impacts of basic Municipal infrastructure. While analyzing these projects, it became clear it is taking longer to complete an EA because of the complexity of environmental study reports. This results in higher costs not only for producing the myriad studies but also for municipal staff time” said Zechner.

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