Last fall, Lake Ontario Waterkeeper and Environment Hamilton requested a review of Ontario's Environmental Assessment approvals program. Using the Environmental Bill of Rights, we argued that the Environmental Assessment Act should be updated to impose a duty on the Minister of the Environment to respond to requests for reassessment within a reasonable period of time.
There is a section in the Act that allows us to ask the Minister to review a project when there is a change of circumstance between the time the project is approved and the time construction begins. When Waterkeeper tried to use this section to draw attention to serious flaws in the Red Hill Creek Expressway project, three consecutive Ministers of the Environment simply ignored our submissions.
Waterkeeper and Environment Hamilton also argued that new approvals issued under the Environmental Assessment Act should come with renewal or expiry dates to so outdated projects can't be revived without scrutiny.
Two weeks ago, the Ministry of the Environment wrote to tell us that it has considered our application and concluded that a review of subsection 11.4 of the Environmental Assessment Act is warranted to clarify when and how approvals are to be reconsidered. The Ministry's review will take about one year.