Annex to the Memorandum of Understanding
Impact Assessment Agency of Canada
Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission
Annex 2 - Public Engagement and Participation for Integrated Impact Assessments
Whereas the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada (“the Agency”) and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (“the CNSC”) — together, “the participants” — have entered into an MOU on cooperation and collaboration with respect to implementing integrated impact assessment processes under the Impact Assessment Act (the IAA) for designated projects regulated under the Nuclear Safety and Control Act (NSCA).
Therefore, the Agency and the CNSC will consult and work collaboratively, through efficient and effective cooperation, without unnecessary delays or duplication of effort, and in accordance with the provisions of the MOU and the procedures and guidance of this Annex with regard to public engagement and participation in integrated impact assessments.
In this Annex:
“Review Participant”, is defined broadly to mean anyone appearing at or participating in an integrated impact assessment process, including public hearings, consistent with the CNSC’s Rules of Procedures.
This Annex sets out how the Agency and the CNSC will ensure ongoing cooperation and collaboration with respect to engagement with review participants throughout an integrated impact assessment under the IAA and the NSCA.
This Annex will apply to public engagement activities during an integrated impact assessment of a designated project regulated under the NSCA.
The roles and responsibilities of the Agency and the CNSC relating to an integrated impact assessment are in accordance with the IAA and the NSCA, respectively.
This Annex is intended to provide a flexible framework and will be adapted, as needed and appropriate, on a project-specific basis.
Principles of Public Engagement
Public participation is an essential part of open, informed and meaningful impact assessment processes. The Agency and the CNSC commit to facilitate meaningful participation by the public and other review participants during integrated impact assessments. Meaningful public participation means that members of the public who wish to participate in an integrated impact assessment have an opportunity to do so and are provided with the information that enables them to participate in an informed way.
The Agency and the CNSC agree that coordination of public engagement activities throughout all phases of an integrated impact assessment process is important to ensure that the principle of "one project, one assessment" is followed. Public engagement activities throughout the entire impact assessment process will be coordinated by the Agency, in collaboration with the CNSC.
As a lifecycle regulator, the CNSC engages with stakeholders from initial engagement on a potential project, through to site preparation, construction, operation, decommissioning and abandonment. In the context of a designated project that includes physical activities regulated under the NSCA, the CNSC will participate in engagement processes jointly with the Agency throughout the entire integrated impact assessment. This will assist the CNSC in strengthening existing relationships or building new ones that are important to the regulation of the proposed project over its entire lifecycle.
The Agency and the CNSC recognize that projects regulated by the CNSC may attract a high degree of interest from the public. The Agency and CNSC agree that flexibility will be required in developing the appropriate range of engagement activities throughout the integrated impact assessment process in order to facilitate meaningful public participation. In developing the appropriate range of options, the Agency and the CNSC commit to developing a process that is open, inclusive and responsive to public needs.
The Agency and the CNSC agree that the integrated impact assessment process will be informal and will, to the extent that it is consistent with the general application of the rules of procedural fairness and natural justice, emphasize flexibility and informality in the conduct of the assessment.
Public Engagement during the Impact Assessment
In order to facilitate meaningful public engagement in each phase of the integrated impact assessment process, the Agency and CNSC agree to the following:
Following any early notification by a proponent that a Project Description is likely to be submitted under the IAA, the Agency and the CNSC will begin discussions regarding appropriate engagement activities that will be undertaken during the Planning phase, should an impact assessment be required.
Where appropriate, consideration will be given to advancing public engagement activities prior to the submission of the initial Project Description in order to improve awareness of the integrated impact assessment process.
The purpose of the engagement opportunity following the submission of the initial Project Description is to solicit input from review participants, regarding the issues of concern associated with the proposed project.
If the proponent has undertaken any engagement activities prior to the submission of the Project Description and has included a summary of the issues it has heard, this initial engagement will also be used to validate the information provided by the proponent.
The input received during this initial engagement period will be reflected in the Summary of Issues that will be provided to the proponent. The Agency and the CNSC will work together to develop the Summary of Issues.
The purpose of the second engagement period following the receipt of the proponent’s response to the Summary of Issues will be to further inform the development of the Tailored Impact Statement Guidelines and the Public Participation Plan. For transparency on how public comments submitted during this engagement period are addressed, the Agency and the CNSC will work together to develop in-depth responses to comments received on the draft Tailored Impact Statement Guidelines and the Public Participation Plan. These responses will be posted on the Registry and shared with the review participants.
Should an impact assessment be required, the Agency and the CNSC will work together to develop the Public Participation Plan. The principles outlined in the Public Participation Plan will be integrated into the Terms of Reference for the Integrated Review Panel in order to provide a framework within which the Integrated Review Panel will engage with review participants during the integrated impact assessment.
Impact Statement Phase
Following the referral of the impact assessment to an Integrated Review Panel, a third engagement period will be held to further inform the development of the Integrated Review Panel’s Terms of Reference. The Agency and the CNSC will work together to develop in-depth responses to comments received on the draft Terms of Reference so that public comments submitted during this engagement period are addressed in a transparent manner. These responses will be posted on the Registry and shared with the review participants.
The purpose of the Impact Statement phase is to ensure that the Impact Statement / Licence Application is appropriate to start a public comment period and includes the required information or studies, as specified in the Final Tailored Impact Statement Guidelines.
During the review of the Impact Statement / Licence Application, the Agency and CNSC will consult with review participants in order to validate information provided by the proponent.
Impact Assessment Phase
The Integrated Review Panel leads the detailed review of the information and studies provided in the Impact Statement / Licence Application during the Impact Assessment phase. This phase includes the submission and testing of information, resolution of issues and development of mitigation measures and potential conditions. This phase will culminate in the preparation and submission of the Integrated Review Panel report, including recommendations, proposed conditions and conclusions.
The Integrated Review Panel will be responsible for designing its approach to public engagement taking into consideration the principles regarding meaningful engagement included in its Terms of Reference. At a minimum, the Integrated Review Panel will be required to solicit input from review participants at the following steps in its process:
- request the views of review participants on the information contained in the Impact Statement / Licence Application;
- request the views of review participants on draft procedures for the conduct of the public hearing; and
- request the views of review participants on draft potential conditions for consideration by GIC in the impact assessment decision statement and by the panel as the Commission in the proposed NSCA licence, should the project be allowed to proceed.
As required, the public may be provided with an opportunity to comment on any additional mitigation measures or follow-up requirements that may be developed following the submission of the Integrated Review Panel report. As a result of outstanding issues identified by review participants, additional potential conditions may be developed by the Agency, in consultation with the CNSC.
In addition, the Agency and the CNSC agree to the following:
- the Agency’s public Registry will be used as the official record for the integrated impact assessment, including as a repository for all information/evidence submitted by review participants during the integrated impact assessment;
- communications with review participants will be coordinated throughout the integrated impact assessment, including prior to the Planning phase;
- appropriate technical expertise will be made available to inform review participants at appropriate stages of the integrated impact assessment process; and,
- communications products will be coordinated throughout the integrated impact assessment process.
The Agency will be responsible for translating any documents it creates into both official languages of Canada prior to their posting on the Registry, including the translation of public notices and releases and the report prepared by the Integrated Review Panel. The Agency will use all reasonable efforts to expedite the translation of the report following its submission by the Integrated Review Panel.
Points of Contact
The CNSC and the Agency will each identify a point of contact to coordinate public communication and activities throughout the integrated impact assessment. These identified points of contact will ensure coordination and that communication from both organizations avoids duplication and meets the public need for meaningful information.
The CNSC point of contact is the Director, Environmental Assessment Division for the designated project or his/her delegate. The Agency’s points of contact are the regional Project Manager (during the Planning phase) and the Panel Manager (for all subsequent phases) for the review of the proposed project. Each participant will ensure that up-to-date contact information for the respective points of contact is made available to each other.
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