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Terms of Reference – Town of Hearst Landfill Site New Waste Management Strategies


The Town of Hearst (the Town) has initiated a study under the Environmental Assessment Act to assess new waste management strategies regarding the Town of Hearst Landfill Site (the Site). The Site is located approximately 1.6 kilometres north of the Town of Hearst along Highway 583 North and was established in 1972. The Town of Hearst (including the surrounding area) currently has one site for domestic refuse and recycling of various items which is currently over its approved capacity.

Pinchin completed a Waste Capacity Assessment in 2018 (Pinchin 2018 WCA Report), which determined an estimated waste volume of over 600,000 m3, exceeding the maximum approved capacity of 551,000 m3. Pinchin subsequently completed a letter report based on the findings of the Pinchin 2018 WCA Report, entitled “Recommendations for Waste Management and Diversion Strategies”, dated February 14, 2018. These recommendations concluded that the Town seek approval from the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) for the removal of the volumetric constraints, allowing the Site to operate solely within the 12.0 ha area and follow the Site development criteria.

Given that the landfilled volume exceeded the maximum capacity, Pinchin recommended that the Proponent seek approval from the MECP to have the volume constraint of 551,000 m3 waived from the Hearst WDS to allow it to operate based on the 12.0 ha area constraints, instead of volumetric limits.

In further consultations with the MECP, it was determined that this approach would not be appropriate for the Site, and the MECP identified that the Town would be required to amend the Environmental Compliance Approval (ECA) to approve any additional landfilling capacity. Given that the Proponent requires a volumetric increase of greater than 100,000 m3, the project would be subject to an Environmental Assessment (EA). As such, it was recommended that the Proponent engage in the EA process to further assess potential opportunities regarding the capacity requirements at the Site. The EA process commences with the preparation and submission of Terms of Reference (TOR) which propose activities and guidance for the evaluation of the preferred alternative to the status quo.

The Process

The TOR provide the framework and requirements for preparation and review of the EA. Upon completion, the TOR will be submitted to the MECP for review and a decision regarding approval. The TOR propose that the EA be prepared in accordance with subsection 6(2)(a) and 6.1(2) of the Environmental Assessment Act (EAA), and the MECP’s Code of Practice: Preparing and Reviewing Terms of Reference for Environmental Assessments in Ontario (June 2022). As a result, the TOR include the following:

  • An identification of the Proponent;
  • The purpose of the EA study;
  • The description and rationale for the undertaking;
  • A description of the existing environment and potential effects;
  • The evaluation and selection of a preferred alternative(s) to the undertaking;
  • The evaluation and selection of a preferred alternative method(s);
  • A commitment to carry out compliance monitoring;
  • A description of the consultation plan proposed for the Environmental Assessment;
  • A discussion of flexibility to accommodate new circumstances during the planning process; and 
  • Activities following approval of the EA report and other approvals required.

The activities undertaken as part of the consultation on the TOR, as well as the results of these activities, will be presented in a stand-alone compendium document Record of Consultation.


The Consultation Plan (Plan) outlines the Proponent’s consultation and engagement program that will support the development of the TOR, and ultimately the EA. Specifically, the Plan outlines:

  • Principles and benefits of engagement;
  • Plan objectives and purpose;
  • Identification of project participants and interested parties;
  • Consultation approach;
  • Consultation activities;
  • Indigenous community consultation;
  • Schedule and key decision-making points;
  • Documentation of consultation;
  • Isues resolution strategy; and
  • Evaluation and modification of the Plan.

Public notices will be issued throughout the EA process to communicate opportunities for participation and engagement in the study, to solicit stakeholder feedback and to announce milestones in the decision-making process. At this point in time, the following public notices have been issued and/or are foreseen (see also schedule/milestones) for the following activities:

Commencement of Terms of Reference (TOR) Processissued on July 21, 2022
Invitation to the first Open HouseNovember 21, 2023
Opportunity to review the revised draft TOR
Submission of the proposed TOR
Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) approval of TOR
Commencement of the Environmental Assessment (EA)
Invitation to the second Open House
Invitation to the third Open House
Submission of EA Study Report
MECP approval of EA

Members of the public, government agencies, Indigenous communities, and interested persons are encouraged to actively participate in the development of the TOR.

Interested parties are requested to forward their comments on the Draft Environmental Assessment Terms of Reference before December 20, 2023. Other opportunities for involvement in the TOR process are offered via the Town’s website or direct contact (see below). Upon finalization and formal submission of the proposed TOR to the Ministry, a 30-day public review period will be provided. Upon approval of the TOR, the Town will commence with the actual EA study. That process will continue to include opportunities for involvement. Specific events will be communicated through notices and the project website (see below).

Cody Wheten, B.E.S. Planning
Project Coordinator
Pinchin Ltd.
189 Upton Road
Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario