ENVIRONMENTAL CONDITIONS REPORT
The Environmental Conditions Report (ECR) is a new report based on the government’s “streamlined” Environmental Assessment Processes. It is specified in the Bradford Bypass Exemption Regulation, O. Reg. 697/21. While there do not appear to be any accompanying guidelines or regulations setting out what this report should contain, how it should be prepared or how it is to be used, it appears to be an inventory of all significant environmental features along the proposed highway route together with the consultant’s comments about how these features will be evaluated and possibly protected through various potential mitigation measures.
Two reports are issued. The first is a draft report. The public is given 30 days to comment on this report following which the consultants are required to summarize the comments received and respond to them in the final report, perhaps even to the point of committing to take further steps to address the commenter’s concerns.
It should be noted that the various studies the consultants committed to complete prior to the passage of the Exemption Regulation were not included in the draft ECR or posted on the project website. Furthermore, because of the Exemption Regulation, the only party that has approval authority over this report is MTO. In other words this is a massive Greenwashing Exercise with little practical value. Probably most disturbing is that this report is being published on MTO’s / Ontario’s agenda timing and is premature given that important reports, such as archaeological reports which may well affect the final route, have yet to be commenced.
While lengthy, the FROGS comments concerning the Draft ECR are worth reading. This is especially true for the first section of our comments. This section identifies serious shortcomings in both the timing of issue and incomplete content of the report. Also of note is our finding that this project will most likely violate Section 36 (3) of the Federal Fisheries Act. This section prohibits the introduction either directly or indirectly of any deleterious substance into Canadian waters that will kill or seriously harm fish. By special Order of Cabinet, responsibility for enforcement of Section 36 (3) is vested with the Minister of Environment and Climate Change hence is outside the jurisdiction of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, the party that issues fisheries permits. Salt is recognized as a deleterious substance. Approval to release deleterious substances can only be authorized by a Regulation.
From what we can tell, Section 36 (3) has never been enforced with respect to salt. Currently salt runoff is being administered as a special policy under the Canadian Environment Protection Act. Salt is not a listed substance under this act.
Working groups have been organized to develop and implement best practices for salt applications. We expect this approach has been employed as nearly all salt applications to date are with respect to roadways that pre-exist the 2019 passage of Section 36 (3) and are hence grandfathered. Our argument is that unlike these “grandfathered” roadways, the Bradford Bypass will come into being while Section 36 (3) is in effect. There is absolutely no compelling reason to build this highway in this environmentally sensitive location and choose to not enforce Section 36 (3).
The Notice of Publication of the Draft Environmental Conditions Report (ECR) for the Bradford Bypass is available here. The Draft Environmental Conditions Report was available for public review on the Project Website between August 12, 2022 and September 16, 2022. (Source: Bradford Bypass Project Website).
Final Environmental Conditions Report: