The comments were generally supportive of the proposal. Some suggestions for change were provided. The following is a summary of comments received on this proposal and how they were addressed in the final policy.
Comment Theme: Application Information Requirements and Environmental Assessments
There was a request for ensuring that additional criteria be incorporated into the review process. In some cases these criteria were added. In other cases, MNRF will rely on the existing mechanisms to consider the potential impacts (i.e., the Environmental Assessment Act). In addition, the revised document confirms an adaptive management approach and that MNRF will consider additional direction (i.e., policy), science and tools as they become available.
There were a number of suggestions with respect to the technical aspects of the application form and the environmental assessment requirements outlined in the proposed policy. In most cases, MNRF provided additional clarity on the technical components of the application process (i.e., water sampling requirements, requirement for qualified professionals to carry out assessments and reporting). To provide assurance that applications are assessed for potential impacts on sediment using the most up-to- date science and tools available, the final policy includes a sediment quality objective consistent with MOECC’s Provincial Policy for Managing the Effects of Cage Aquaculture Operations on the Quality of Water and Sediment in Ontario’s Waters.
Comment Theme: Clarity was requested with respect to the “status” of an application at various points throughout the process. The final policy includes new language to add further clarity of the status of applications.
Comment Theme: Additional clarity was requested with respect to First Nation and Métis consultation. The final policy includes increased acknowledgement of the consultation and collaboration process and requirements.
Comment Theme: Clarification was requested with respect to the roles and mandate of the Review Committee. The final policy includes clarification of MNRF’s “One Window” approach to facilitate the information exchange required for independent agency review and approval.
Comment Theme: There was a request for increased public consultation and clarification regarding the Environmental Assessment Act. The final policy reaffirms MNRF’s commitment to an open, transparent and participatory process during the review of an application including providing additional context on application of the Environmental Assessment Act.