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Class EA for Waterpower Projects - Implementation Frequently Asked Questions

A series of Questions and Answers has been developed by the Ontario Waterpower Association for members of the public with an interest in waterpower development.  This is a living document that will be updated regularly.

Frequently Asked Questions - Implementation of the Class EA for Waterpower Project (PDF)

Class EA for Waterpower Projects - General Frequently Asked Questions 

Waterpower Development in Ontario

Today there is a growing interest and urgency to develop more electricity from clean, renewable sources like waterpower.

What is a Class Environmental Assessment?

The Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) describes environmental assessment (EA) as a planning process that allows proponents to assess the potential for effects to the environment using best information available in order to make an informed decision about how or whether a project should proceed.

The Environmental Assessment Act formally recognizes the Class EA process for projects that have predictable and mitigable effects to the environment and, therefore, do not warrant an individual EA. These are known as Class Environmental Assessment (Class EA) projects.

What is the Class Environmental Assessment for Waterpower Projects?

In October of 2008, the Ontario Waterpower Association’s Class EA for Waterpower Projects was approved by the Minister of the Environment and is now the source document for planning the development of waterpower facilities. The Class EA sets out a planning process to be followed for the development of waterpower projects in Ontario.

How will I know when the environmental assessment process begins?

In order to help ensure that potentially interested parties are aware of the project, the proponent must issue a Notice of Commencement of a Class EA for a Waterpower Project. This public notice is a mandatory point of contact and must be directly provided to:

•             adjacent and potentially affected riparian landowners/tenants;

•             potentially affected Aboriginal communities;

•             potentially interested municipalities, including those hosting project-related infrastructure;

•             other potentially directly affected water management infrastructure owners/operators;

•             other directly interested or affected parties (e.g., local interest groups, businesses, resources licensees, members of the public that may be directly                affected by some aspect of the project); and

•             various government agencies.

The Notice of Commencement must also be published in a local newspaper having general circulation within the area of the project. It will include all pertinent information regarding the proposed project including contact information for the proponent.

How long does the environmental assessment process take?

Typically the environmental assessment process can take anywhere from 12-24 months to complete.

How can I participate in an environment assessment process?

The project proponent will outreach to and engage those who have expressed an interest in the proposal and/or in response to the Notice of Commencement. Public consultation and involvement will occur throughout the planning phases of the project, depending on the level of interest and the project complexity.

The Notice of Commencement must also be published in a local newspaper having general circulation within the area of the project. It will include all pertinent information regarding the proposed project including contact information for the proponent.

What happens to the information taken during a public consultation session?

The proponent must document the consultation approach that was employed as well as the results of the consultation and how the input and advice was considered. All concerns are documented and included in the Notice of Completion filed at the end of the EA process.

How can I be certain my concerns are considered?

Interested persons should make their requests very clear and should focus on concerns associated with the potential effects of the project. All project proposals under the Class EA are required to publish a Notice of Completion and to send the notice directly to those who expressed an interest when the Notice of Commencement was issued. Among other requirements, the Notice of Completion will include the outcomes of the assessment process and information regarding how the project’s environmental report may be accessed and reviewed.

What is the Ontario Waterpower Association’s responsibility for the Class Environmental Assessment for Waterpower Projects?

The OWA is the proponent of the Class EA for Waterpower Projects and is responsible for monitoring the implementation of this Class EA to ensure that it is satisfying its purpose and that it remains relevant and current. Where feasible, the OWA will identify areas for improvement that would enhance the effectiveness of the Class EA.

Where can I find more information?

In addition to making the Class EA available to the public on our website www.owa.ca, the OWA has several other resource materials such as a series of three videos entitled “Power of Water”. These videos provide an overview of the past, present and future of waterpower in Ontario and are available on the OWA’s website and on You Tube. In addition, the Association has recently published a Community Guide to Waterpower Projects that provides more detail for those interested in gaining a better understanding of the role of waterpower in the province’s energy supply and key considerations for project development. Finally, to support the Class EA, the OWA has collaborated with provincial and federal agencies to produce “Best Management Practices” for the Mitigation of Impacts of Waterpower Facility Construction and Best Management Practices for Species at Risk, including; Lake Sturgeon, American Eel and Channel Darter. These and other products may be ordered through the OWA.


Ontario Waterpower Association
380 Armour Road, Suite 264
Peterborough, ON K9H 7L7