Discharge of untreated wastewater in the St. Lawrence River

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This report is the final step in the comprehensive review process of the events leading to the discharge of untreated wastewater into the St. Lawrence River by the City of Montreal between November 11 and 14, 2015. This review is one of the four conditions imposed on the City of Montreal in the order issued by the Minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) under subsection 37(2) of the Fisheries Act on November 9, 2015.

The Governments of Canada and Quebec will resume their discussions on the proposed Canada-Quebec Agreement on Act and Regulations Applicable to Quebec Municipal Wastewater Treatment Sector. An equivalency agreement with Quebec would reduce regulatory duplication for Quebec’s municipal wastewater systems owners and operators, while ensuring at least the same level of environmental protection for Quebec’s waters as the federal regulations do.

Table of contents

  1. Executive summary
  2. 1. Introduction
  3. 2. Methodology
  4. 3. Review of events
    1. 3.1. Highlights
  5. 4. The parties’ viewpoints and possible solutions
    1. 4.1. Intergovernmental communication
      1. 4.1.1. Perspectives of the parties
      2. 4.1.2. Communication mechanisms
      3. 4.1.3. Availability and sharing of expertise
      4. 4.1.4. Possible solutions with respect to intergovernmental communications
    2. 4.2. Engagement and consultation of Indigenous communities
      1. 4.2.1. Perspectives of the Indigenous communities
      2. 4.2.2. Consultation of Indigenous communities
      3. 4.2.3. Possible solutions with respect to the engagement and consultation of Indigenous communities
  6. 5. Recommendations
    1. 5.1. Intergovernmental communication
      1. 5.1.1. Put in place a new collaborative structure between ECCC and MDDELCC to facilitate discussion surrounding major projects
      2. 5.1.2. Strengthen the use of existing communication mechanisms between the various orders of government
      3. 5.1.3. Share scientific expertise and involve other partners where possible
      4. 5.1.4. Clarify the scope and application of the Wastewater Systems Effluent Regulations and the Fisheries Act with regard to planned discharges of untreated wastewater by municipalities
    2. 5.2. Engagement and consultation with Indigenous communities
      1. 5.2.1. Initiate discussions between ECCC and the Secrétariat aux affaires autochtones du Québec (SAA) to better understand what, in this case, led to differing approaches on the duty to consult, to identify common observations with regard to this duty
      2. 5.2.2. Require the production of an Indigenous community consultation plan when section 37 of the Fisheries Act is invoked with respect to maintenance projects on wastewater treatment systems
      3. 5.2.3. Commit to the dissemination of information to Indigenous communities
      4. 5.2.4. Ensure that the governments share, where possible, the information at their disposal on Indigenous ancestral and treaty rights (established or potential) and the findings of their analyses on the need to consult Indigenous groups in keeping with the Crown’s legal duty
  7. 6. Conclusion
  8. Annex 1 – List of participants in the review process
  9. Annex 2 – Chronology of events
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