Policies & Guidelines

Environmentally Significant Areas Impact Evaluation Group

The Environmentally Significant Areas Impact Evaluation Group (ESAIEG) is a voluntary technical committee established to advise Planning and Economic Development Department staff on the impacts of development within or adjacent to Core Areas in the Natural Heritage System (refer to Schedule B in the Urban & Rural Official Plans).

Meeting information

Date: Held on the third Thursday of every month, as required.
Time: Held in the late afternoon (site visit) and evening (presentation and discussion).

2020 Schedule

Meeting date Agenda/status
January 16, 2020 No meeting
February 20, 2020 No meeting
March 26, 2020 CANCELLED
April 16, 2020 CANCELLED
May 21, 2020 CANCELLED
June 18, 2020 Agenda (PDF, 88 KB)
July 16, 2020 CANCELLED
August 20, 2020 CANCELLED
September 17, 2020 CANCELLED
October 15, 2020 Agenda (PDF, 463 KB)
November 19, 2020  
December 17, 2020  

When a land use change is proposed within or adjacent to a Core Area in the Natural Heritage System, the applicant may be required to submit an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).

ESAIEG’s mandate is to review EIS reports and provide objective advice to staff on whether the technical information provided is adequate to assess impacts, whether the development proposal should proceed, and if so, what mitigation measures are needed.

ESAIEG is an advisory body that makes recommendations to Planning staff. It does not have the authority to approve or refuse projects or make policy decisions or recommendations on land use.

ESAIEG was established by the former Region of Hamilton-Wentworth in 1993. 

Scope of Activities
To perform its mandate, ESAIEG will, in accordance with the policies in the Official Plan, review proposals requiring a change in use, or an intensification in use, in or adjacent to ESAs or Core Areas in the Natural Heritage System as designated in the Official Plan. Specifically, ESAIEG will:

  • prepare and periodically update a set of Environmental Impact Statement Guidelines for Council adoption setting out the type, level of detail and presentation of information constituting a generic environmental impact statement to help proponents and/or consultants prepare information for consideration;
  • determine whether information submitted with a proposal is sufficient to assess the significance of impacts on the features for which the protection area was designated;
  • assess the significance of potential environmental impacts of a proposal on the features for which the protection area was designated; and,
  • determine whether or not significant impacts can be effectively mitigated and advise on the measures necessary to protect the features for which the Core Area was identified, including whether or not the proposal should be approved.

ESAIEG shall prepare an annual, year-end activity report documenting the work of the group. This report may include comments by ESAIEG members on policy issues or concerns experienced in assisting with the implementation of City policies related to protection of the Natural Heritage System.

Referral of Applications
Staff from the Planning and Economic Development Department will refer applications to ESAIEG.

Processing of Applications
Once the application has been referred, Planning staff will contact the applicant and provide the Council-approved Environmental Impact Statement Guidelines describing the information ESAIEG requires. Once the applicant submits the required report, staff will bring it, and other relevant information, before ESAIEG for consideration. ESAIEG will be expected to make a recommendation to staff at this point. Three types of recommendation are possible:

  • approval if the impacts are insignificant;
  • conditional approval if the impacts can be mitigated; or,
  • denial if the impacts cannot be mitigated.

In unusual circumstances, ESAIEG can table the proposal pending more information.

Number of Members
The ESAIEG shall consist of a minimum of 5 members and a maximum of nine. Four members are required for quorum.

Additional Experts
In some cases, the specialized knowledge or expertise needed to determine the significance of impacts may not be possessed by the members themselves. Also, well-qualified experts may be willing to volunteer advice, but may not be available to attend regular meetings. To ensure that a complete range of expert opinion is available to ESAIEG, the evaluation group may call on outside experts, as necessary.

Term of Appointment
Members will be appointed for four-year terms consistent with the term of Council. At the discretion of the committee, non-attendance at more than three consecutive meetings will be sufficient grounds for replacement.

Officers
ESAIEG will elect a Chairperson annually, at least one meeting after the new members are appointed. Availability is a critical qualification for a Chairperson. A vice-chairperson should be elected to run meetings in the absence of the Chairperson.

Conflict of Interest
Any member with a potential conflict of interest or any past or present interest or involvement in the site or project to be discussed must declare it at the beginning of the meeting and before the Presenters have entered the room. The ESAIEG Coordinator will include this as an item on the agenda for every meeting.

ESAIEG will discuss the potential conflict of interest and make a decision on how it will be handled. Generally, a member with a conflict will be permitted to answer questions about the proposal (factual responses) but will not be permitted to participate in the
discussion afterward. In some cases, the member with the conflict of interest may be asked either to not participate at all in the discussion or to leave the room during discussions of the project. The nature of the conflict and the actions taken will be recorded in the Meeting Notes.

If there is any disagreement on the nature or degree of the conflict and the actions to be taken by the member in potential conflict, the Chair will make the final decision.

Staff Support
Staff from the Planning and Economic Development Department will act as the "ESAIEG Coordinator" and will attend all meetings. Preparation of meeting notes, agenda, and other matters will follow City of Hamilton practice.

Timing and Content of Meetings
Meetings will be open to the public and held as the need arises. Generally, ESAIEG meetings are held on the third Thursday evening of every month.

Operating Budget
ESAIEG's operating budget will be administered by the Planning and Economic Development Department and be reviewed annually in consultation with ESAIEG. The operating budget will cover new member advertising, mileage reimbursement, and meeting costs.

Qualifications for Appointment
Potential members must meet specific criteria regarding qualifications, experience, and availability. People who work as consultants or with public agencies may be appointed to the advisory committee. Members will not be selected to represent an organizational perspective, but rather for their ability to provide objective expert judgement. A high level of technical expertise shall be required among members.

The Planning and Economic Development Department will advertise for expressions of interest from community members who would be willing to volunteer for appointment to the ESAIEG. An ESAIEG Member Selection Sub-Committee will be established, consisting of three staff from the Development Planning, Heritage, and Design Section. This Sub-Committee will be responsible for interviewing ESAIEG candidates and selecting individuals suitable for appointment.

Academic Qualifications
Because of the technical nature of the committee, academic qualifications are important. Individuals with a diversity of training will be viewed favourably. As a group, the ESAIEG should include a balance of expertise and thus, appointments may favour disciplines where representation is weak. Members will be drawn from the following disciplines or subject areas:

  • Biology
  • Ecology
  • Zoology/Ornithology
  • Botany
  • Limnology
  • Hydrology/Hydrogeology
  • Geology/Soil Science
  • Civil Engineering
  • Forestry
  • Resource Management
  • Environmental Planning
  • Landscape Architecture

Practical Work Experience
The number of years a person has worked in a field will be considered and preference given to experienced individuals. Competence may also be demonstrated by publication of academic materials. Individuals who have exercised high levels of responsibility through their work experience or project management activities will be preferred. Members should also be comfortable working in small groups and be willing to achieve consensus.

Knowledge of Municipal Government and Agency Roles
It would be an asset for members to possess general knowledge of applicable legislation, the role of municipal government in resource management, and Provincial agency policies regarding resource protection.

Availability
Members should be able to attend a majority, if not all, meetings. Day time site visits may be required. Members will need to read and consider information in preparation for meetings and should be able to be contacted during the day in order for meetings to be arranged. Ex Officio members should meet knowledge, experience, and academic criteria, but not necessarily all availability criteria.

Municipal Representation
Residency is not a critical factor but where other factors are equal, residents will be preferred. As a group, ESAIEG should include members who have some perspective on natural resource protection issues in both urban and rural settings.

ESAIEG consists of a minimum of 6 and a maximum of 9 member. Four (4) members are required for quorum. Meetings will be re-scheduled if quorum cannot be achieved. Members are appointed to ESAIEG for a four-year term consistent with the term of Council.

As a group, ESAIEG includes a balance of expertise, including the following disciplines:

  • Biology                     
  • Ecology
  • Zoology/Ornithology
  • Botany
  • Hydrology/Hydrogeology
  • Geology/Soil Science

Contact us

Contact information for ESAIEG Coordinators:

Melissa Kiddie
Suburban Team
Phone: 905-546-2424 ext. 1290
Email: [email protected]

Catherine Plosz
Rural Team
Phone: 905-546-2424 ext. 1231
Email: [email protected]