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Environmental Assessment (EA) practitioners in Ontario today face a labyrinth of EA processes for various sectors of projects, all slightly different with ever increasing requirements for more and more information and more and more consultation. The result is often a massive EA document filled with complex technical information that is both difficult to understand and time consuming to review and provide comments. Is this complex and unfriendly process actually leading to better outcomes? We would be hard-pressed to definitely answer yes.

Decision-makers in Ontario (and elsewhere) doubtless have been hearing this message and are now planning reviews of the respective EA regimes beginning this year with the federal government. Against the backdrop of these government-led initiatives emerges a golden opportunity for EA practitioners to reflect on what EA has become and is today, and what we, as EA practitioners, want it to look like moving forward.

Key Conference Questions:

What was EA intended to do and is it still meeting that intent?
What has changed in the last 40 years that influences EA objectives and outcomes?
What are innovative ways of reaching EA’s intended objectives and outcomes?
What could be done when planning processes and EA overlap?
How can the EA process meaningfully involve the public in general and Indigenous peoples in particular?
How can climate change be integrated into the EA process?

 

It is fitting that on the fortieth anniversary of the implementation of Ontario’s Environmental Assessment Act, the OAIA conference will give us an opportunity to try to answer these questions and more through a series of panel discussions and interactive sessions. Please join us in Toronto on October 25-25, 2016 for a lively discussion that will help us hit the reset button.