Public input is requested by the Ontario Government and is only open until December 6th, regarding proposed changes to Cultural Heritage Assessment process involving Renewable Energy projects. The proposal will streamline the process in favour of the proponent.
Earlier this year the Ministry of the Environment made regulatory amendments to Ontario Regulation 359/09 Renewable Energy Approvals. These amendments, which came into force on July 1, 2012, responded to public and proponent concerns that were raised as part of the Feed-In Tariff Two-Year Review and the government’s review of current practice since the implementation of the REA regulation. The revised regulation can be accessed online at: www.e-laws.gov.on.ca These amendments included changes to sections 19 through 23, which outline the cultural heritage requirements of the REA.
Changes include: Proponents are no longer required to prepare separate written summaries related to protected properties. These summaries will now be included in the design and operations report Archaeological and heritage assessment reports are required, unless a proponent can demonstrate that there is low likelihood that archaeological and heritage resources are present at the project location using ministry checklists (available on the MTCS website: http://www.mtc.gov.on.ca/en/heritage/renewable_energy.shtml )
If proponents can demonstrate through the checklists that there is low potential for resources to be present, further assessment is not required. Proponents are required to include a summary of their findings in their design and operations report. The Regulation now provides more detail on the process for conducting heritage assessments, including reporting requirements.
In response to the amendments, the ministry is proposing to revise the REA Information Bulletin: Protected Properties, Archaeological and Heritage Resources: An Information Bulletin for Applicants Addressing the Cultural Heritage Component of Projects Subject to Ontario Regulation 359/09 Renewable Energy Approvals.
The REA Information Bulletin, originally released in the summer of 2011, provides guidance to proponents on how to meet the REA cultural heritage requirements. The revised version of the guide will include a new Part 2, called “Guidance for Conducting the Heritage Assessment”. This new section will provide guidance on heritage assessments prepared for the REA, advice on best practices for identifying and evaluating cultural heritage resources, and information on assessing development impacts related to renewable energy projects.
Additionally, Part 2 discusses the importance of engaging with heritage stakeholders as part of the heritage assessment process. This includes: Municipal Heritage Committees, local heritage organizations and municipal staff, to help inform the assessment.
As the proposed “Part 2” of the guide provides new policy and direction related to the conservation of cultural heritage resources and environmental approvals, a draft has been posted to the Environmental Registry for a 30-day public review and commenting period. The posting and related materials can be access through the following link:
Written comments on this posting can be submitted directly through the Environmental Registry website or they can be sent to the individual listed under contact. All comments must be submitted by December 6, 2012. The ministry appreciates its stakeholders taking the time to review and provide comments on this proposal.