McIntosh Perry Environmental Assessment consultants assist municipalities and provincial agencies, private landowners, and public bodies, such as conservation authorities, with the completion of environmental assessments (EAs) as required by the Environmental Assessment Act (EAA). This process protects Ontario’s natural environment by carefully considering all solutions to a proposed problem, identifying associated environmental impacts, and allowing for public consultation prior to project commencement.

We complete streamlined environmental assessments for projects such as public roads and highways, bridges, transit, waste management, water and wastewater works, and erosion protection. Designed to be rational, objective, transparent, replicable, and impartial, EAs are multifaceted; each project is unique with a distinct set of complexities.

Our environmental team of planners, engineers, technicians, biologists (terrestrial and fisheries) and scientists collaboratively complete the environmental assessments from beginning to end, guiding clients through each step of the process. An environmental planner manages the initiative and serves as a single point of contact. This hands-on approach allows us to adapt easily to change, maintain consistent communication, and efficiently advance projects through the process.

We also leverage the depth of knowledge McIntosh Perry has across many disciplines, working closely with other departments such as municipal engineeringstructural engineeringtransportation, traffic engineering, drainage, cultural heritage, and Geographic Information Systems (GIS). Our in-house capabilities help our clients to reach their goals quickly. For example, should a municipality need to make a decision pertaining to an aging bridge (i.e. rehabilitate or replacement) that may have potential heritage value, McIntosh Perry’s Heritage Specialist can readily produce a Built Heritage and Cultural Landscape Assessment to determine if there is heritage value in efforts to support the Environmental Assessment process.

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Environmental Assessment Act Requirements

Environmental Assessment Act Requirements

The EAA was developed for “the betterment of the people as a whole or any part of Ontario by providing for the protection, conservation and wise management of the environment in Ontario” (RSO 1990, c.18, s.2).

The “environment” in Ontario (as defined by the EAA) is:

  • Air, land or water;
  • Plant and animal life, including human life;
  • Social, economic and cultural conditions that influence the life of humans or community;
  • Buildings, structures, machines or other devices made by humans;
  • Solids, liquids, gases, odours, heat, sounds, vibrations, or radiation resulting directly or indirectly from human activities, and
  • Any part or a combination of the above and the interrelationships between them.

To encourage environmentally responsible decision-making and ensure all potential environmental effects are considered before a project begins, the EAA requires an approved planning process is followed. This is known as the Environmental Assessment process.

Environmental Assessment Processes

McIntosh Perry works with clients to fulfill the requirements for a variety of streamlined environmental assessment processes, including:

As part of the EA process, a thorough inventory of the existing natural, social and economic environment is conducted. This may include but is not limited to features such as vegetation, wetland habitat, wildlife, fisheries and aquatic ecosystems, species at risk, groundwater, surface water, physical geography, archeological resources, cultural heritage, utilities, tourism, etc.

Comprehensive documentation of all findings and determinations throughout the process is mandatory. In addition, all EA processes require—and are shaped by—public and stakeholder consultation. In accordance with provincial environmental laws, consultation with Indigenous Communities is part of this process.

McIntosh Perry facilitates these discussions, chronicles all interactions and addresses issues that arise. When deemed appropriate, environmental teams create project websites that serve as a hub for public communication and a virtual platform for meetings.

Although each EA process generally follows the same course of action, the planning process varies depending on the proposed undertaking.

Understanding regulations, approvals and permits required for project work can be challenging. McIntosh Perry provides consultative support to clients and helps navigate legislation and interactions with organizations such as:

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Municipal Class Environmental Assessments (Class EA)

McIntosh Perry follows the Municipal Class Environmental Assessment (MCEA) Process, a framework by which municipal infrastructure projects are planned in accordance with the Environmental Assessment Act.

As shown in the illustration above, the main elements of the Class EA planning process are incorporated into five phases. Based on the degree of expected impact, projects subject to the Class EA process are classified into “Schedules.” Upon conclusion of the environmental assessment, a Technically Preferred Alternative/Technically Preferred Design Concept is identified, permitting and approval requirements are spelled out, a monitoring program is developed, and other considerations are presented. 

Municipal Class Environmental Assessment (MCEA) Planning Phases

Phase 1:

  • Identify Problem or Opportunity
  • Public and stakeholder consultation is optional.

Phase 2: 

  • Identify Alternative Solutions to Problem and Opportunity
  • Inventory Natural / Social / Economic Environment
  • Identify and evaluate the potential impact of Alternative Solution
  • Select the Preferred Alternative Solution
  • Prepare Project File Report
  • Determine appropriate Schedule*: A/A+, B, C or Individual EA
  • Public and stakeholder consultation is mandatory.
    • Issue Notice of Completion for Schedule B Projects (*Schedule choice will impact future phases.)

Phase 3:

  • Identify Alternative Design Concepts for the Preferred Solution
  • Inventory natural, social and economic environments
  • Identify and evaluate the potential impact of Alternative Designs
  • Select the Preferred Design Concept

Phase 4:

  • Prepare and file Environmental Study Report (ESR)
  • Place ESR on Public Record
  • Announce Notice of Completion for Schedule C Projects
  • Opportunity to request Minister within 30-days of Notification to Request a Part II Order
  • Obtain Minister’s decision

Phase 5:

  • Complete contract drawings and tender documents
  • Award contracts; proceed with construction & operation
  • Undertake environmental monitoring and commitments

For all EAs, mandatory consultation with the public and interested parties, including Indigenous Communities and government agencies, occurs at key intervals throughout the process.

MCEA Schedules

  • Schedule A/A+: Limited in scale with minimal adverse effects

Pre-approved to proceed to Phase 5 for implementation (must advise public)

  • Schedule B: Potential for adverse environmental effects

Approved subject to screening process (Phases 1 and 2), must prepare and submit a Project File for public review before proceeding to Phase 5

  • Schedule C: Potential for significant environmental effects

Approved subject to screening process (Phases 3 and 4), must prepare and submit an Environmental Screening Report (ESR) and a Notice of Completion for public review before proceeding to Phase 5

(Note: For a detailed version of the five-phase Municipal Class Environmental Assessment (MCEA) flow chart, visit the MCEA website.)

Featured Project: Bridge 16-WG MCEA, Centre Wellington

The Township of Centre Wellington retained McIntosh Perry to undertake a Schedule “B” Municipal Class EA (MCEA) Preliminary/Conceptual Design for the Bridge 16-WG located in the Former Township of West Garafraxa, now Township of Centre Wellington, Wellington County, Ontario.

Bridge 16-WG was a single lane, single span, solid-spandrel concrete arch structure over Golden Creek, which merges with Lyn Creek approximately 50 m south of the bridge. Fifth Line is a gravel 2-lane road with a posted speed of 80 km/s and an overhead utility line running adjacent to the structure’s south side. The bridge had substantially deteriorated and showed movement of several structural elements, including the arch soffit, guide rail, and wingwalls. As a result, the bridge was closed in 2021 to vehicular and pedestrian traffic.

Due to the aging infrastructure, a decision on whether to decommission, rehabilitate, or replace the structure needed to be made. Adept at recognizing the potential environmental (natural, social, economic, and cultural) impacts and infrastructure challenges that manifest with aging infrastructure and growing communities, our team was well positioned to assist.

A Schedule ‘B’ MCEA was undertaken for this assignment as the structure was over 40 years old (built in 1910). A previous Cultural Heritage Evaluation Report (CHER) and Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) found that the structure had cultural heritage value or interest (CHVI). This determination was specifically related to the solid-spandrel concrete-arch type of structure, representative of a common bridge type built in Ontario in the early 20th century. The study included developing a list of reasonable alternatives for Bridge 16-WG to address the problem statement while keeping the interests of residents and the Council at the forefront. Each alternative was evaluated using sound engineering and environmental (natural, social, economic, and cultural heritage) criteria for choosing the preferred alternative. To evaluate the alternatives, McIntosh Perry undertook a background review and conducted field investigations of the engineering, environmental and cultural heritage disciplines. We prepared a physical description of the study area and documented a general inventory of the natural, social, economic and cultural heritage environments to assist with the evaluation of all alternatives. In selecting the preferred alternative, McIntosh Perry also considered the long-term land use planning objectives of the Township.

After consulting with the public, external agencies, Indigenous Communities, the Township Heritage Committee, and Township Council, replacing the existing bridge with a new structure at the existing location was identified as the Technically Preferred Alternative (TPA).

Conservation Ontario Class Environmental Assessments for Remedial Flood and Erosion Control Projects

Conservation Ontario Class Environmental Assessments for Remedial Flood and Erosion Control Projects

McIntosh Perry assists Conservation Authorities (CAs) with the completion of the environmental assessment process (developed by Conservation Ontario) known as the Class Environmental Assessments for Remedial Flood and Erosion Control Projects.

This Class EA establishes procedures and environmental planning principles that CAs must follow to be in compliance with the Environmental Assessment Act when carrying out remedial projects to address flood and erosion problems.

Summary of Class Environmental Assessments for Remedial Flood and Erosion Control Projects Process

  • Initiate Class EA and publish Notice of Intent
  • Establish Community Liaison (as necessary)
  • Prepare Baseline Environmental Inventory
  • Evaluate Remedial Measures and select Preferred Program Option
  • Conduct detailed analysis of Environmental Impact
  • Determine if Environmental Impacts can be avoided
  • Upon review of findings, any of the following may occur:
    • Prepare Project Plan
    • Prepare Environmental Study Report (ESR)
    • Prepare Individual Environmental Assessment
    • Reassess the Program Option
  • Prepare, submit and make public Notice of Findings
  • Collect any Part II requests
  • Obtain Project Approval
  • Publish Notice of Project Approval
  • Conduct Construction and Compliance Monitoring during construction phase
  • Prepare Post-Construction Effectiveness & Environmental Monitoring Report
  • Publish Notice of Project Completion

For all EAs, mandatory consultation with the public and interested parties, including Indigenous Communities and government agencies, occurs at key intervals throughout the process.

Featured Project: Carp Creek Embankment Restoration, MCVA/City of Ottawa

McIntosh Perry assisted the Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority (MCVA) and the City of Ottawa with a Class EA concerning the Carp Creek embankment, which had become unstable due to flooding and severe erosion. The eroding embankment was an erosion scar (approximately 4 m high)  with a steep slope leading to a residential development. Therefore, safety concerns existed with respect to the development at the top of the slope. Project requirements for this watercourse included a Schedule “B” Class EA process, geotechnical review in an area with steep slopes and high embankments, fluvial geomorphological assessment, fisheries and natural sciences review, hydrological/hydraulic review, as well as the preliminary design and selection of a technically preferred alternative.

In a previously executed Class EA, it was determined that the Technically Preferred Alternative (TPA) was the partial realignment of the creek with an installation of a live crib wall, plantings and Rip Rap strategically placed at transition points along the creek. Before finalizing the tender package for the crib wall, the City of Ottawa requested that McIntosh Perry put a hold on the project in order to consider an alternative solution.

The new alternative solution/design concept involved re-grading the eroded embankment to provide more floodplain storage and potentially dissipate energy. An environmental assessment addendum to the original Class EA was undertaken to complete the planning, provide an opportunity for the public to provide comments and ensure mitigation measures were still valid for the proposed additional alternative solution/design concept.

The environmental group collected site-specific information to determine the natural environment conditions, including a topographic survey and geotechnical investigation. Once a full inventory of existing conditions was performed, all alternative solutions presented in the original Class EA were reviewed, and a seventh alternative solution (realignment, re-grading and stabilization of the embankment) was added to the list.

The environmental impacts of each alternative were evaluated, and the newly added alternative solution was chosen as the TPA.

In addition to submitting the mandatory public notices and managing ongoing public consultation,  McIntosh Perry provided an Impact Assessment and detailed the environmental impact and mitigation measures that would be carried forward into the design package.

Environmental Assessment Requirements for Waste Management Projects

The environmental group at McIntosh Perry helps public and private sector clients meet the environmental assessment requirements for waste management projects as outlined in Ontario’s Waste Management Projects Regulations under the Environmental Assessment Act (EAA).

The Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks has developed classifications for waste management projects based on the type and size of waste to be managed, the ability to recover energy from the waste and, in specific cases, the fuel used in the treatment process. Projects then follow one of three process streams.

McIntosh Perry reviews the scope of waste management projects, verifies the environmental assessments process stream to be followed, and manages the process from start to finish.

Waste Management Project Process Streams

1st Process Stream: 

  • Major projects with the potential for significant environmental effects
  • Requires the preparation of a Terms of Reference and an Individual EA

2nd Process Stream:

  • Projects with predictable environmental effects that can be readily mitigated
  • Must complete the Environmental Screening Process

3rd Process Stream:

  • Projects which are expected to have minimal environmental effects
  • Not subject to the requirements outlined in the Waste Management Projects Regulation under the EAA
  • Must comply with any other applicable existing legislative requirements

For all EAs, mandatory consultation with the public and interested parties, including Indigenous Communities and government agencies, occurs at key intervals throughout the process.

Summary of Environmental Screening Process for Waste Management Projects (2nd Process Stream)

  • Publish Notice of Screening Project Commencement
  • Identify Problem or Opportunity
  • Identify and describe Potential Environmental Effects
  • Study and assess Potential Environmental Effects
  • Develop Impact Management/Mitigation Measures
  • Collect concerns from the public and determine if issues can be resolved
  • Upon review of findings, either of the following may occur:
    • Prepare Environmental Screening Report
    • Conduct additional studies and assessment
  • Publish Notice of Completion of Environmental Screening Report
  • Obtain Requests for Elevation
  • After a 60-day review period, either of the following may occur:
    • No requests received: Submit a Statement of Completion
    • Requests received: Prepare Terms of Reference and an Individual EA

For all EAs, mandatory consultation with the public and interested parties, including Indigenous Communities and government agencies, occurs at key intervals throughout the process.

Class Environmental Assessments for Provincial Transportation Facilities (MTO Class EA)

Class Environmental Assessments for Provincial Transportation Facilities (MTO Class EA)

The Class Environmental Assessments for Provincial Transportation Facilities (MTO Class EA) is designed to manage the planning and decision-making process of transportation-related infrastructure projects such as transportation facilities, provincial highways, freeways, transitways and ferries. The MTO Class EA presents a streamlined approach for projects that are routinely carried out and have predictable environmental effects.

MTO projects are classified into four groups (Group A, B, C and D) relative to the level of complexity and potential for environmental impacts. A set of management principles is applied throughout this environmental assessment process which allows for the reordering or combination of steps or phases as needed.

McIntosh Perry is uniquely positioned to execute MTO Class EAs thanks to our extensive experience, which includes over 14 years of working with the Ministry of Transportation (MTO).

Class Environmental Assessments for Provincial Transportation Facilities (MTO Class EA) Principles
  • Consultation
  • Identification and consideration of Alternatives
  • Consideration of all aspects of the environment (Environmental Protection)
  • Consideration of all aspects of the environment (Transportation Engineering)
  • Evaluation
  • Documentation
  • Project Management
MTO Class EA Groupings
  • Group A: New provincial transportation facility and highway/freeway realignment projects
  • Group B: New provincial service, maintenance or operations facility projects, and projects that modify access to (or add capacity to) existing transportation facilities
  • Group C: Projects limited to improving existing provincial transportation facilities
  • Group D: Projects limited to facility operation, routine maintenance, administration, and miscellaneous activities
Summary of MTO Class EA Process

  • Pre-planning: Define Problems or Opportunities, consider Alternatives
  • Planning: Review pre-planning results, confirm and consider Alternatives
  • Preliminary Design: Identify, evaluate and select Preferred Alternative Methods; includes document preparation
  • Implementation (Detail Design and Construction): Detail design process, construction, monitoring, etc.

For all EAs, mandatory consultation with the public and interested parties, including Indigenous Communities and government agencies, occurs at key intervals throughout the process.

Summary of MTO Class EA Steps

  • Prepare consultation plan (as required) and issue Notice of Commencement
  • Review and confirm the Problems, Opportunities and Alternatives
  • Consider Alternatives Methods
    • Identify Alternative Methods (taking into consideration all aspects of the environment for each alternative)
    • Evaluate Alternative Methods and net environmental impacts systematically
    • Select the Preferred Alternative Method
  • Consult with individuals and organizations (on-going throughout duration of project)
  • Prepare documentation as needed (i.e. Transportation Environmental Study Report (TESR), Notice of Completion, etc.)

For all EAs, mandatory consultation with the public and interested parties, including Indigenous Communities and government agencies, occurs at key intervals throughout the process.

Featured Project: Preliminary Design and Group “B” Class Environmental Assessment for Highway 401 From Cranberry Road to County Road 28 (Ontario Street), Port Hope, Ontario

The Ministry of Transportation of Ontario (MTO) Eastern Region retained the services of the McIntosh Perry environmental team to carry out the preliminary design and a Group “B” MTO Class EA on Highway 401. The project included the structural needs of three bridges (Cranberry Road Bridge, Choate Road Bridge and Ganaraska River Bridge) and establishing an 8- and 10-lane future footprint of Highway 401 from 500 m west of Cranberry Road to 450 m east of County Road 28 (Ontario Street), within the Municipality of Port Hope, County of Northumberland.


Example of MTO Class EA Process followed by McIntosh Perry engineers:

The purpose was to develop a Recommended Plan for the long-term needs of the three bridges and to establish the footprint for the future expansion of Highway 401 to eight lanes by 2051 and ten lanes by 2081.

Alternatives were generated and evaluated based on technical and environmental factors. Consultation with stakeholders occurred, and design alternatives were presented to help identify a Recommended Plan. Consultation included the following:

  • Notice of Commencement
  • Project website created to provide additional project information to interested stakeholders
  • Municipal Advisory Meeting with representatives from the County of Northumberland, Township of Hamilton, Municipality of Port Hope, Township of Hamilton Fire, Port Hope Fire, Northumberland Paramedics, the Ganaraska Region Conservation Authority, and the Port Hope Area Initiative
  • Notice of an Online Public Information Centre (PIC)
  • Online PIC #1; held to provide detailed information (including the Class EA process), existing conditions, alternatives identified, the evaluation process, associated impacts and mitigation, and next steps
  • Online PIC #2; held to provide information regarding the Recommended Plan
  • Property owner meetings held with impacted property owners
  • Notice of Study Completion

Upon completion of the project, a Transportation Environmental Study Report (TESR) was posted for a 30-day public review period. All comments were addressed, and there were no outstanding issues. The project was therefore considered to have met the requirements of the Group “B” MTO Class EA process, and environmental clearance was obtained to move forward to Detail Design. Subsequently, McIntosh Perry proceeded to complete the Detail Design Phase for this client.

Multidisciplinary Collaboration and Coordination

McIntosh Perry’s ability to cross-collaborate directly benefits our Environmental Assessment clients. We’re able to solve problems and achieve approvals quicker by sharing internal expertise and resources.

With offices in the GTA, Ottawa, Kingston, North Bay, and Southwestern Ontario, we draw upon pools of expertise throughout North America to build client-focused teams.

Our 800+ engineers, project managers and technicians provide professional engineering services to all sectors, including:

  • Infrastructure
  • Highways and Roads
  • Transportation/Transit
  • Private Land Development
  • Private/Commercial Residential/Real Estate
  • Government
  • Water Resources
  • Industrial
  • Power and Dams
  • Oil and Gas Industry
  • Parks and Recreation
  • Defence

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