Towards a Multi-Party Policy Monitoring Framework for Evaluating Infrastructure Environmental Assessments on the Oak Ridges Moraine
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The Oak Ridges Moraine, located in south-central Ontario, is recognized for its ecological importance in providing “clean and abundant water resources, healthy and diverse plant and animal habitat, an attractive and distinct landscape, prime agricultural land, and sand and gravel resources” (Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, 2002). It is protected by the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan (2002). A number of initiatives are ongoing to develop monitoring capabilities across the Oak Ridges Moraine (Monitoring the Moraine Project, 2008; Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs, 2008). The purpose of this thesis is to develop and test a multi-party policy monitoring framework to determine if infrastructure environmental assessments on the Oak Ridges Moraine comply with the policies of the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan (ORMCP) and meet best practices of environmental assessment identified in the literature. The multi-party policy monitoring framework developed for this research has two dimensions: 1. A moraine-wide survey and map of infrastructure environmental assessments contributing to a “governance watch” (Francis, 2006a; Francis, 2006b) perspective of infrastructure; and 2. An evaluation of an infrastructure environmental assessment case study (York Region’s Lower Leslie Street Trunk Sewer and 19th Avenue Interceptor Sewer) against a set of criteria to determine if it complies with the ORMCP and environmental assessment best practices. The results of the environmental assessment map show a distinctive pattern of infrastructure development, concentrated in the eastern half of the moraine, and within designated settlement areas. That being said, infrastructure networks are expanding to connect settlement areas outside the Greater Toronto Area. The environmental assessment map shows the importance of thinking of infrastructure as a networked system, rather than as discrete projects. The results of the case study evaluation showed that the Lower Leslie Street Trunk Sewer and 19th Avenue Interceptor Sewer Environmental Assessment complied with the minimal requirements of Section 41 of the ORMCP, and in some cases went above and beyond the requirements of the ORMCP. The results suggest, however, that some criteria drawn from the literature, would be better addressed by strategic environmental assessment of infrastructure master plans.