Media Release

Environmental Planning Law a Dismal Failure Published Report Finds

Jun 12 2002

Toronto. A new report commissioned by the Canadian Environmental Law Association concludes that the Ontario government's failure to effectively implement the 1996 Environmental Assessment Act has rendered the law virtually impotent. "Commitment to protecting and enhancing environmental values has apparently given way to a single-minded campaign to deregulate, reduce the size and role of government, and grow the economy quickly and at all costs," says the report, which will be published in the Journal of Environmental Law & Practice."The report demonstrates that the environmental assessment process in the province is a hollow shell of what it was and what it should be," notes Paul Muldoon, Executive Director of the Canadian Environmental Law Association. "The undermining of this important law was both premeditated and deliberate." "Repeated examples show that the law as it is being implemented is failing Ontarians," notes Theresa McClenaghan, a CELA counsel with extensive environmental assessment experience. "The EA law has misled the public into believing that the environment is protected by environmental assessment when in fact it is not." The 283 page report outlines in significant detail problems associated with the 1996 changes to the law, including:

  • Continued failure to convene public hearings, despite enormous public outcry and legitimate criteria for holding EA hearings;
  • The dismal failure to grant even one "bump up" request, that is, to agree to a full environmental assessment rather than a class or generic assessment;
  • A dramatic and ongoing reduction of public participation in the planning process; and
  • Gross governmental failure to monitor and enforce the EA law.

The report calls for a number of measures that, even without legislative amendment, would substantially improve the effectiveness of the law.- 30 - For more information:Paul Muldoon, Executive Director, CELA (416) 960-2284, ext. 219Theresa McClenaghan, Counsel, CELA (416) 960-2284, ext. 218Rick Lindgren, CELA (613) 385-1686