Impact Assessment Agency of Canada: appearance before the Standing Committee
Implementation of the Impact Assessment Act
Q. How many new Projects have commenced under the Impact Assessment Act?
- Impact Assessment Agency of Canada (IAAC) has accepted 7 initial project descriptions since the Impact Assessment Act (IAA) came into force. The first two projects have just completed the Planning Phase.
- IAAC expects that the same number of projects will be submitted under the IAA compared to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012 (CEAA 2012), which was an average of 12-16 projects per year.
Q. How are climate commitments (e.g. Paris Accord, Net Zero 2050) dealt with in the federal review process?
- The Impact Assessment Act requires the consideration of the extent to which a project hinders or contributes to Canada’s ability to meet its climate change commitments.
- The climate change information and analysis to be taken into account are guided by the Strategic Assessment of Climate Change and are set out clearly for each project assessment.
- For example, the draft guidelines for the Gazoduq project, which are out for public consultation, note that the requirements include, among other things, the project’s main GHG sources, direct and upstream emissions estimates and how the project can contribute to Canada’s efforts to reduce GHG emissions.
- The climate-change implications of a project are considered in the impact assessment report, and ultimately as a Public Interest factor in the impact assessment decision.
Q. How does the impact assessment process reflect Indigenous views and perspectives?
- The Government of Canada consults and partners with Indigenous peoples as part of the new impact assessment process. In addition to consultation to meet the Crown’s common law duty to consult, the Agency focuses on early and inclusive engagement and participation at every stage, in accordance with a co-developed engagement plan. The aim is to secure free, prior and informed consent through processes based on mutual respect and dialogue.
- Relationship-building is supported by having the Agency as lead of the Government of Canada’s consultation efforts, enabling a “one window” point of contact for Indigenous groups throughout the assessment.
- Provisions in the Impact Assessment Act provide increased opportunities for cooperation and collaboration, including options for co-development and for the integration of Indigenous-led studies and assessments.
- The Act also includes mandatory consideration of Indigenous knowledge, streamlined participant funding to support Indigenous participation and capacity development, and requirements to consider potential impacts on Indigenous rights and culture in assessments and decision-making.
Q. How are opposing views amongst affected Indigenous groups or within communities balanced in the federal review process (e.g. elected vs. hereditary chiefs)?
- The Government’s role in leading federal Crown consultation with Indigenous peoples in the context of impact assessment is not to balance the views or concerns expressed by different Indigenous groups, but rather to facilitate a meaningful dialogue with affected Indigenous groups.
- Analysis of all evidence and perspectives will factor into the Agency’s assessment of the potential project effects (both positive and negative) and impacts on Indigenous rights and interests. This analysis supports decision making by presenting all of the various perspectives and recommending the best available options for avoiding, mitigating or accommodating adverse impacts.
Projects subject to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012
Q. What was the average number of projects submitted for an Environmental Assessment or Impact Assessment each year?
- Under CEAA 2012, IAAC received an average of 13 projects per year.
- IAAC has accepted 7 initial project descriptions since the IAA came into force.
Q. Teck has indicated it is not going to go forward with the Frontier oil sands project. What does this mean for the environmental assessment?
- Under CEAA 2012, the Minister may terminate an environmental assessment if the proponent advises Minister in writing that the proponent does not intend to carry out the project.
- On February 25, 2020, the Minister terminated the environmental assessment process at the request of the Teck.
Regional assessment/cumulative effects
Q. How are regional assessments going to help get projects approved?
- Regional assessments will make project reviews more efficient and effective by clarifying up front the important issues within a region and how to address them.
- This can reduce the amount of information necessary for project assessments within a region and help focus project assessments on critical outstanding issues.
- Regional assessments can also guide proponents in designing their projects to avoid potential impacts in the first place.
- Finally, in very select cases set out in regulation, a regional assessment can be used to exclude projects from requiring an impact assessment, where clear conditions are met.
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