Fast-Tracking the EA Process
The federal government is fast-tracking the way it evaluates the environmental impact of the vast majority of its infrastructure projects
On Friday, Minister Baird said the federal government will start relying more on provincial assessments for joint projects instead of having both levels of government do the same work.
“We are going to be coming in the next 14 days with regulatory changes that should eliminate about 90 per cent of federal [environmental assessments],” said Baird.
Baird said the streamlined system will mean 289 projects will be fast-tracked. In cases where projects could affect wetlands or a national park, the federal government will still do an environmental assessment.
At the same time, Baird, who was in Toronto with Ontario Energy and Infrastructure Minister George Smitherman, announced about $1 billion in funding for projects in small Ontario communities.
The funding announced Friday covers proposals that include wastewater infrastructure for the town of Wasaga Beach, sports facilities for Kawartha Lakes and roads for the community of Huntsville. All of the projects are in communities with populations of fewer than 100,000 people and were selected by the towns themselves.
The governments of Canada and Ontario will fund up to two-thirds of the project costs-about $670 million-as part of the Building Canada Plan, while municipalities will have to cover a third.
Pat Vanini, executive director of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, said Friday that although municipal governments are often strapped for cash, the infrastructure projects are commitments the municipalities will make a priority.
“Everyone wants to get shovels in the ground, get the infrastructure going, gets jobs created,” she said.
Smitherman indicated that there are more announcements to come and that the next ones will be for big cities.