The purpose of the Environmental Assessment Act (EAA) is to protect, conserve and wisely manage Ontario's environment. It sets out a planning and decision-making process to ensure the environmental effects of a project are evaluated and documented prior to decisions being made about proceeding to construction. The EAA promotes responsible environmental decision-making and ensures that interested persons have an opportunity to comment on projects that may affect them. In the EAA, environment is broadly defined and includes the natural, social, cultural and economic environment.
The Environmental Assessment Act (EAA) applies to most public sector projects unless exempt.
The EAA does not apply to private sector companies unless designated by regulation or the company voluntarily agrees to comply with the EAA.
Public sector proponents include:
Examples of public sector projects include: public roads and highways, transit projects, waste management projects, water and wastewater works, resource management and flood protection works.
The public is encouraged to get involved in an environmental assessment (EA) process as early as possible to identify issues and concerns specific to a proposed project, before irreversible decisions are made.
The public can get involved by participating in public meetings, open houses and other public forums arranged by the proponent.
There are many opportunities for the public to participate in the EA process:
Consultation is required with Aboriginal communities potentially affected by a project.