Environmental assessments

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For sustainable development

Environmental assessments guide the governments in their decisions regarding major projects and give the public and communities the opportunity to have their views heard. They give projects social and environmental acceptability beyond their economic and technical feasibility.

What is an environmental assessment?

Environmental assessments identify and analyze the potential and actual impact of a project on its surroundings. They help identify, from the planning stage, any mitigation measures that will be required to limit, reduce or compensate for the project’s impact and ensure that its benefits surpass its drawbacks. 

Environmental assessments are essential to sustainable development. They guide governments in their decisions regarding major projects, and gives individuals, groups and organizations, as well as communities, the opportunity to have their views heard. They give projects social and environmental acceptability beyond their economic and technical feasibility.

In Quebec, sustainable development means «development that meets current needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet theirs. Sustainable development is based on a long-term vision that takes into account the indissociable character of the environmental, social and economic dimensions of development activities.»

Environmental assessments

Public participation

Throughout the different project phases, individuals, residents’ associations and business, institutional and environmental groups and organizations will be invited to express their views and concerns. When the time comes, the Sector-specific consultations page will provide the details on how the public can take part.

One project, two processes

The Gatineau-Ottawa tram is subject to two levels of governance: provincial and federal. Given that the transit system will cross two provinces (Quebec and Ontario) in the National Capital Region, and will run on or alongside federal infrastructures and land, its planning will be subject to two environmental assessment processes. While these may be two distinct processes for jurisdictional reasons, their objectives are the same, and the data required from the field is practically identical for both.

For the portion of the circuit on the Quebec side, the Gatineau-Ottawa tram project is subject to the Procédure accélérée d’évaluation et d’examen des impacts sur l’environnement (PAEEIE) of the ministère de l’Environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques, de la Faune et des Parcs (MELCCFP), persuant to the Act respecting the acceleration of certain infrastructure projects.

For the part of the circuit on or alongside federal lands in Quebec or Ontario, including the Portage Bridge, an environmental analysis and determination under sections 81-91 of the Impact Assessment Act (IAA) is required. The project is bound by the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada guidelines, as well as the Federal Land Use, Design and Transactions Approval (FLUDTA) process overseen by the National Capital Commission, subject to the satisfaction of all federal organizations. As part of this process, an Environmental Effects Analysis (EEA) is to be prepared and submitted to the NCC.

This assessment includes the following steps:

  • a description of the project;
  • a description of the environments:
    • biological (e.g. wildlife and vegetation);
    • physical (e.g. air quality and climate); and
    • human (e.g. sound climate and landscape).
  • an assessment of the impact on the physical, biological and human environments;
  • a description of the mitigation measures and residual effects;
  • recognition of the feedback received from the public and of any knowledge received from the communities during the public consultations; 
  • recognition of any Indigenous knowledge received and, if applicable, whether the obligation to consult has been met; and
  • an assessment of the cumulative effects.

The stakeholders and their roles

Project office – Gatineau-Ottawa tram. This is the project initiator (for MELCCFP) or applicant (for the NCC).

The project office ensures that deadlines are met and the quality of deliverables. It is responsible for obtaining the environmental approvals.

Ministère de l’environnement et de la lutte contre les changements climatiques, de la Faune et des Parcs (MELCCFP)

MELCCFP issues a project-specific directive to the initiator setting out the elements to be included in the impact study.

MELCCFP consults with the interested departments and organizations to ensure that all pertinent issues are addressed. It then transmits the issues raised to the initiator so it can address them in its environmental impact study.

MELCCFP then checks to ensure that the environmental impact study is complete and in compliance with its directive.

MELCCFP specialists, in collaboration with their counterparts in other interested departments and organizations, submit an environmental assessment report to the Minister. 

The Minister reviews the BAPE and environmental assessment reports, and makes a recommendation to the Government, which then renders its decision by way of an Order.

Ministère des Transports et de la Mobilité durable (MTMD)

As the government department with jurisdiction over transportation, Quebec’s ministère des Transports et de la Mobilité durable (MTMD) is called to provide opinions in connection with consultations run by the ministère de l’environnement et de la lutte contre les changements climatiques, de la Faune et des Parcs (MELCCFP) as part of the government’s accelerated environmental impact assessment and review  procedure (procédure accélérée d’évaluation et d’examen des impacts sur l’environnement – PAEEIE). 

The MTMD also takes part in the BAPE public hearings. 

Project partners

These are the STO’s public partners, who will be consulted and involved in carrying out the project, i.e. Ministère du Transport et de la Mobilité durable (MTMD), the National Capital Commission (NCC), and the cities of Gatineau and Ottawa.

For further information, please visit the Partners and Funding page.

The public

Individuals, groups, organizations, agencies and communities taking part in the consultation process, that raise issues to be addressed in the environmental impact study.

Professional services

These are the consultants who are in charge of carrying out the environmental impact studies and the pre-project phases.

Bureau d’audiences publiques sur l’environnement (BAPE)

The BAPE is an independent organization that informs, consults residents, investigates, and then advises the Minister responsible for the environment in order to inform the government’s decisions.

National Capital Commission (NCC)

This is a federal Crown corporation that provides long-term planning for federal real properties. It is the principal caretaker of key national public places, and acts as a creative partner committed to excellence in planning and conservation.

It is also responsible for planning interprovincial transportation and federal approvals for projects on federal land under federal jurisdiction. This approval includes federal environmental impact assessments.

For its part, the NCC transit office has been assigned to:

  • foster and assist in the implementation of the tram project by providing coordination with the federal authorities and those outside Quebec, and serving as the counterpart to Quebec’s ministère des Transports and the STO;
  • help achieve a larger proportion of public transit users traveling to and from the heart of the national capital region; and
  • help improve the integration of the interprovincial public transit system in the national capital region by connecting the Ottawa and Gatineau downtowns.

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