59 comments were received on the proposal. Comments were received from private citizens, municipal planners, municipal public health officials, lawyers, industry, industrial associations, professional associations, utilities, the transportation sector, acoustical consultants and provincial ministries. All comments received were considered by the MOE as part of the decision making process.
In general, the comments received were supportive of consolidating and updating existing noise-related guidelines. The comments also identified the need for additional clarification and explanation in many areas of the draft guideline. Some comments were not considered relevant because they concerned matters outside the scope of this draft guideline. For example, comments concerning noise from wind farms were not relevant because it is the subject of another separate MOE guideline, entitled “Noise Guideline for Wind Farms, (PIBS 4709e)”. Comments concerning racetracks and the exemption provided by a regulation from the requirement for an Environmental Compliance Approval were not relevant because they are outside the scope of this draft guideline.
The following highlights the key comments received and how they were considered by the MOE:
Most of the comments concerned the key technical definitions included in the draft guideline. Generally, these comments identified the need for additional explanation and clarification to a number of the definitions. Some comments recommended particular wording be used in a definition. Other comments recommended specific examples be added to a definition.
Most of the definitions were revised in order to clarify issues raised and answer questions posed in the comment submissions. Where appropriate, the changes recommended in the comment submissions were incorporated into the revisions the MOE made to the definitions. Additional information was also added to the guideline to further explain how to interpret and apply the definitions. For example, revisions were made to the following definitions: auxiliary transportation facility, background sound level, enclosed noise buffer balcony, exclusion limit, noise control measure, noise sensitive land use, outdoor living area, point of reception, predictable worst case, stationary source and warning clause.
To provide additional explanation and clarification the MOE also added a number of new definitions. Information was also included to explain how to interpret and apply these new definitions. For example new definitions were added for; acoustic barrier, agreement for noise mitigation, campsite, dwelling, emergency equipment, high-rise multi-unit building, inaccessible vacant lot, inoperable window, land use planning authority, layover site, noise sensitive commercial purpose building, noise sensitive institutional purpose building, noise sensitive vacant lot and plane of window.
Several comments were received on the proposal to create a new Class 4 Area. Most comments were supportive of the purpose of the new Class 4 Area to facilitate new development while protecting existing stationary sources. However, comments were also received that questioned and expressed concerns about how a new Class 4 Area would be created.
The new Class 4 area concept was clarified and additional guidance was provided. The MOE revised the definition and other sections of the guideline regarding Class 4 areas. The MOE noise guideline provides for the concept of and appropriate sound level limits for a Class 4 area. The decision to classify an area as Class 4 is solely at the discretion of the land use planning authority and may be made under the procedures developed by the land use planning authority in the exercise of its responsibility and authority under the Planning Act. The MOE guideline was revised to provide additional explanation of the considerations which apply to a Class 4 area. Additional information was also provided concerning applications for MOE approvals for stationary sources located in a Class 4 area.
The draft guideline included a proposal for a new Class 5 area to address situations where background noise levels are dominated by existing rail and air traffic received several comments. Comments were submitted indicating that the concept and implementation of a Class 5 area was unclear.
In response to the comments received, the concept of a Class 5 area was removed from the guideline. The issue was resolved by revising the definition of background sound level. Consequently, the contribution of noise from rail traffic can be part of the determination of the background sound level, if specific conditions set out in the guideline are met.
Many comments concerned Part C of the draft guideline regarding land use planning. While many comments indicated that more specific and detailed guidance was needed, other comments questioned the details of the land use planning process included in the draft guideline. Many comments suggested significant changes to Part C, however, these suggestions varied widely.
Significant revisions were made to Part C of the guideline, in response to the comments received. Part C concerns land use planning decisions made under the Planning Act, legislation that MOE does not administer. Accordingly, revisions were made to clarify that Part C is intended by MOE to serve as guidance / advice on the technical issues relating to noise for consideration by land use planning approval authorities, developers and consultants when decisions are made under the Planning Act. Details on how to conduct the land use planning process were removed as the procedures for decisions made under the Planning Act are the responsibility of the land use planning authority to develop and implement.
Several comments indicated the need for information about how and when the guideline would be implemented.
A section was added to the guideline which provided information about how it will be implemented after it is published in this decision notice posted on the Environmental Registry. The guideline will be implemented in MOE approvals issued after its publication date. Applications for MOE approvals submitted prior to the publication date of the guideline may be assessed under the guideline, at the request of the applicant.
Comment submissions requested further consultation on the guideline.
The MOE conducted additional consultation on the draft guideline after it was revised, based in part on the comments received. The revised guideline was circulated to everyone who submitted a comment or participated in the consultation activities held during the 60-day proposal posting on the Environmental Registry. Four additional consultation meetings were held to discuss the revised guideline during April 2011. The MOE received an additional 21 comment submissions in response to consultations on the revised guideline. All the additional comments were evaluated and subsequent revisions, based in part on these comments, were made to the guideline.