Canada and British Columbia agreement strengthens cooperation on impact assessments
September 5, 2019 — Ottawa — Impact Assessment Agency of Canada
Today, Canada’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Catherine McKenna, and British Columbia’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, George Heyman, announced the signing of a bilateral agreement on cooperating on project reviews under Canada’s new Impact Assessment Act and British Columbia’s new Environmental Assessment Act.
The Governments of Canada and British Columbia are working together to protect the environment and strengthen our economy. The Canada-British Columbia Impact Assessment Cooperation Agreement sets out how the two jurisdictions will work together on impact assessments that require approvals from both levels of government using substituted and coordinated assessments and review panels. This will ensure a more predictable and timely process, increased efficiency and certainty, and result in quality assessments that draw on the best available expertise.
The agreement includes a commitment for Canada and British Columbia to work together to coordinate cooperation and collaboration with Indigenous peoples throughout impact assessments.
The agreement was informed by feedback from the public, industry, stakeholders, and Indigenous peoples, including feedback received during a 30-day comment period.
“By making the Impact Assessment Act law, the Government of Canada has delivered on an important promise to Canadians – to put in place better rules and restore public trust in how decisions about resource development and other major projects are made. With the guiding principle of “one project, one assessment”, the new impact assessment system will make sure good projects are built in a sustainable way.”
— The Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change
“This agreement supports B.C.’s revitalized environmental assessment process. It affirms our commitment to working with our federal counterparts, while retaining our independent decision making authorities, as we conduct environmental assessments that are efficient, transparent, robust, instill public confidence, respect the rights and knowledge of Indigenous peoples, and protect the environment while offering clear pathways to sustainable project approvals.”
— The Honourable George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy
Cooperation agreements set out ways the Government of Canada will work with another jurisdiction, such as a province or Indigenous jurisdiction, to align project reviews when both jurisdictions are reviewing the same project.
There are several ways for jurisdictions to work together under the Impact Assessment Act:
- Coordination, where jurisdictions coordinate activities and, where possible, harmonize timelines and documents
- Delegation, where the federal government delegates some tasks to one or more jurisdictions, while remaining responsible for the overall process
- Substitution, where the federal government allows a jurisdiction’s process to replace the federal process, with each jurisdiction making its own decision based on a single assessment report
- Joint Review Panel, where jurisdictions jointly appoint panel members and agree on terms of reference for an independent panel to conduct the impact assessment
Office of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change
Impact Assessment Agency of Canada
Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy
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