Phase 1: Planning

Phase 1: Planning

Roles and Responsibilities

The Proponent
  • May consult with the Agency in determining whether their project is described on the Physical Activities Regulations (the Project List)
  • Document any engagement activities to date that it has undertaken
  • Prepares the Initial Project Description to meet the requirements in the Information and Management of Time Limits Regulations
  • Prepares the Detailed Project Description to meet the requirements in the Information and Management of Time Limits Regulations
  • Prepares a Response to the Summary of Issues outlining how it intends to address the issues provided by the Agency in the Summary of Issues
  • Undertakes engagement, as needed
  • Participates in Agency-led engagement, as needed
The Agency
  • Responds to questions and provides guidance to proponents seeking more information about the process or for preparing an Initial Project Description
  • Reviews the Initial Project Description submitted by the proponent
  • Engages federal authorities
  • Identifies and notifies Indigenous groups that may be impacted by the project
  • Engages provincial, territorial and Indigenous jurisdictions, Indigenous groups, the public and other stakeholders on potential issues of concern, key documents, and how they would like to be engaged in an impact assessment
  • Responds to questions and provides guidance to Indigenous groups and the public seeking more information about the impact assessment process or participant funding
  • Provides participant funding to Indigenous groups and the public
  • Provides a Summary of Issues to the proponent
  • Reviews the proponent's Detailed Project Description and Response to Summary of Issues
  • Determines if an impact assessment is required
  • Develops the Impact Assessment Cooperation Plan, Indigenous Engagement and Partnership Plan, Public Participation Plan, Permitting Plan and Tailored Impact Statement Guidelines
  • Consults Indigenous groups to identify issues and potential for impacts on them and/or their rights
  • Considers and incorporate comments received on the Summary of Issues, Plans and Tailored Impact Statement Guidelines
  • Maintains a record of consultation for the Crown
  • Prepares the Notice of Commencement
  • Posts documents to the Registry
  • If referred to a Review Panel, posts the Minister's decision to refer the impact assessment to a Review Panel and the reasons for making that decision on the Registry
Public Public
  • Participates in engagement opportunities
  • Identifies key issues of concern
  • Indicates how they would like to be engaged and participate in the impact assessment
  • Provides input and comments on key documents, including the Initial Project Description, Detailed Project Description, Summary of Issues, Response to Summary of Issues, Public Participation Plan and Tailored Impact Statement Guidelines
  • Applies for participant funding to support participation
Indigenous Groups Indigenous Groups
  • Participate in engagement and consultation activities
  • Identify key issues of concern including potential impacts on rights
  • Indicate how they would like to be engaged and consulted in the impact assessment
  • Collaborate on the development of the Indigenous Engagement and Partnership Plan
  • Provide input and comments on key documents, including the Initial Project Description, Detailed Project Description, Summary of Issues, Response to Summary of Issues and Tailored Impact Statement Guidelines
  • Indicate what internal activities may be required to support community participation and review of project
  • Apply for participant funding to support participation
Other Jurisdictions (Provincial, Territorial and Indigenous) Other Jurisdictions (Provincial, Territorial and Indigenous)
  • Identify opportunities to cooperate and harmonize processes and implement Cooperation Agreements, if established
  • Indicate interest in leading part or all of the impact assessment
  • Participate in engagement and/or consultation sessions
  • Collaborate in the development of the Impact Assessment Cooperation Plan
Federal Authorities Federal Authorities
  • When requested by the Agency, engage the proponent to specify information required by the proponent
  • Make information available to the Agency, upon the Agency's request
  • Provide input on the Summary of Issues
  • Review and provide input on the proponent's Initial Project Description, Detailed Project Description and Response to Summary of Issues
  • Collaborate on the development of the Permitting Plan
  • Review and provide input on the Tailored Impact Statement Guidelines
  • Participate in Indigenous and public engagement activities
Lifecycle Regulator (when a designated project is regulated by a Lifecycle Regulator)
  • Collaborate with the Agency on:
    • The review of the Initial Project Description submitted by the proponent
    • The development of the Summary of Issues
    • The review of the proponent's Detailed Project Description and response to Summary of Issues
    • The determination of whether an impact assessment is required
    • The development of the Impact Assessment Cooperation Plan, Indigenous Engagement and Partnership Plan, Public Participation Plan, Permitting Plan and Tailored Impact Statement Guidelines
  • Participate in Indigenous engagement
  • Participate in public engagement
  • Respond to questions and provides direction to proponents

Step by Step

  1. The Footnote proponent determines if its project is described on the Footnote Project List (the Physical Activities Regulation).
  2. If the project includes an activity that is described on the Project List, or if the physical activity has been designated by the Minister, the proponent submits an Footnote Initial Project Description to the Agency that meets the requirements of the Information and Management of Time Limits Regulations.
  3. The Agency confirms that the proposed project is identified on the Project List and determines whether the Initial Project Description conforms with the regulations. It is anticipated that there will be a 10-day service standard for the Agency to complete this review.
  4. If requirements outlined in the Information and Management of Time Limits Regulations are missing, the Agency requests that information from the proponent.
  5. When the Initial Project Description conforms with the regulations, it is accepted by the Agency. The Agency informs the proponent and posts it on the Agency's Footnote Registry (Registry Internet Site). The 180-day time limit starts when the Notice is posted to the Registry.
  6. In the case where the designated project is regulated by a Footnote lifecycle regulator, the Agency will collaborate with the lifecycle regulator to prepare for the possible impact assessment.
  7. The Agency contacts and consults with Footnote federal authorities who may be in possession of specialist or expert information or knowledge.
  8. The Agency engages with provincial, territorial and Indigenous jurisdictions that may have responsibilities in relation to assessment of the designated project in order to prepare for a possible impact assessment. The Agency may extend the 180-day planning phase by up to 90 days at the request of another jurisdiction to enable cooperation with that jurisdiction.
  9. The Agency identifies the Indigenous groups who may be affected by the project. The list of Indigenous groups the proponent has already contacted and/or engaged with in respect to the Project will help inform this review. The Agency will contact the Indigenous groups to notify them that a potential project is being contemplated that may affect their rights or interests, and to invite their participation in the planning phase.
  10. The Agency initiates engagement and consultation activities with Indigenous groups, as well as the public and other participants on the Initial Project Description. The objective of engagement at this stage is to identify key issues of concern and to determine how Indigenous groups and the public would like to be engaged should an impact assessment be required.
  11. The Agency prepares a Footnote Summary of Issues that includes issues raised by provincial, territorial and Indigenous jurisdictions, Indigenous groups, the public, federal authorities and other participants during consultations and engagement. The Agency provides the Summary of Issues to the proponent and posts a copy to the Registry.
  12. The proponent prepares a Footnote Response to the Summary of Issues that explains how it intends to address the issues raised, and a Footnote Detailed Project Description that meets the requirements of the Information and Management of Time Limits Regulations. Once completed, the proponent submits these documents to the Agency.
  13. The Agency reviews the Detailed Project Description and posts it and the Response to the Summary of Issues to the Registry once it is accepted as conforming to the regulations. It is anticipated that there will be a 10-day service standard for the Agency to complete this review.
  14. The Agency determines if an impact assessment is required and posts the decision and the reasons for the decision on the Registry.
  15. If an impact assessment is required, the Agency continues to engage with Indigenous groups, the public, other jurisdictions, including Indigenous jurisdictions, and federal expert departments in order to develop the Footnote Public Participation Plan, the Footnote Indigenous Engagement and Partnership Plan, the Footnote Impact Assessment Cooperation Plan, the Footnote Permitting Plan and the Footnote Tailored Impact Statement Guidelines, which includes the scope of the factors that are considered as part of an assessment.
  16. The Agency posts the draft Tailored Impact Statement Guidelines on the Registry for comment and posts the draft Plans.
  17. The Agency continues to engage and considers the input received in order to finalize the Tailored Impact Statement Guidelines and Plans.
  18. Once finalized, the Agency provides the Tailored Impact Statement Guidelines to the proponent and posts the documents to the Registry with the Footnote Notice of Commencement before the end of the 180-day planning phase.
  19. Within 45 days from the posting of the Notice of Commencement on the Registry, the Minister may refer the impact assessment to a Review Panel, if it is the public interest to do so.
  20. When the impact assessment is referred to a Review Panel, the Agency posts a notice of the Minister's decision, including the Minister's reasons for referring the project to a Review Panel, on the Registry.
  21. If the designated project includes physical activities that are regulated under the Acts listed below, the Minister must automatically refer the impact assessment to an integrated Review Panel:
    1. Nuclear Safety and Control Act: such as the construction of a uranium mine or nuclear fission reactor
    2. Canadian Energy Regulator Act: such as the construction of an interprovincial natural gas pipeline
    3. Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Atlantic Accord Implementation Act or Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Resources Accord Implementation Act: such as the construction of a floating offshore oil and gas production facility.

    When the Minister receives a request for substitution:

    1. At any point in this phase, if the Minister of Environment and Climate Change (the Minister) receives a request from another provincial, territorial and/or Indigenous jurisdiction to substitute the impact assessment process, the Request for Footnote Substitution will be posted to the Registry with an invitation to the public to provide their comments. Indigenous groups will be consulted and engaged on the Request for Substitution.
    2. The Minister considers comments received and posts the Substitution Decision and the reasons for the decision to the Registry before the end of the 180-day planning phase

FAQ

1. What is a Proponent?

"Proponent" means the person or entity –  federal authority, government or body – that proposes the carrying out of, or carries out, a designated project.

2. What is the Agency?

The Impact Assessment Agency of Canada (the Agency) is responsible for delivering high-quality impact assessments and serves as the centre of expertise on this subject matter within the Government of Canada. The Agency leads on federal reviews of major projects, working with other bodies, provinces, territories and Indigenous jurisdictions.

3. What are the Physical Activities Regulations (the Project List)?

The Physical Activities Regulations (the Project List) identifies the physical activities associated with the carrying out of projects (e.g. construction of a mine or construction of a hydroelectric generation facility) that may require an impact assessment. Each physical activity includes a description and, when applicable, a corresponding threshold. The corresponding threshold serves as a representation of scale or size. If the project includes an activity that is described on the Project List, the proponent must submit an Initial Project Description to the Agency as described in the Information and Management of Time Limits Regulations, which launches the planning step.

4. What are the Information and Management of Time Limits Regulations?

The Information and Management of Time Limits Regulations prescribe:

  • the information that the proponent is required to provide to the Agency in the planning phase of the potential impact assessment;
  • the documents the Agency is required to provide to proponents if it is determined that an impact assessment is required;
  • the requirements to support accessibility of information provided by proponents;
  • the circumstances in which the legislated timelines can be suspended during the impact assessment process;
  • the requirement for the Agency to make participant funding programs available for all designated projects; and
  • the time limit for the Minister to respond to a request that a regional or strategic assessment be conducted.
5. What are the timelines for the planning phase? Can the Minister extend the timelines?

The planning phase has a legislated timeline of up to 180 days. The Agency can extend this timeline by up to 90 days on the request of another jurisdiction and is required to post reasons for any extension on the Registry.

6. What is the Initial Project Description?

An Initial Project Description is a required document prepared by the proponent of a designated project. Proponents are required to submit an initial description of the designated project to the Agency to start the planning phase. The Initial Project Description must include the information set out in the Information and Management of Time Limits Regulations.

The purpose of this Initial Project Description is to:

  • allow the Agency to determine if the proposed project is a designated project under the Regulations Designating Physical Activities;
  • inform the public about the project and provide engagement opportunities; and
  • include sufficient detail to support cooperation discussions with provincial, territorial and Indigenous jurisdictions and commence engagement and consultation with Indigenous peoples.
7. What is the Summary of Issues?

The Summary of Issues is a document prepared by the Agency that outlines issues raised in the planning phase by the public, Indigenous group, any jurisdiction, or federal authorities. The Summary of Issues provides a proponent with an understanding of issues that have been raised and requires the proponent to respond to the Agency with how it will address issues. The Summary of Issues also allows participants to see how comments and concerns in the early planning phase have been characterized. The Summary of Issues will be used to inform the Agency's decision on whether to require an impact assessment and to inform the Tailored Impact Statement Guidelines.

8. What is the Proponent's Response to the Summary of Issues?

The proponent's Response to the Summary of Issues demonstrates how the proponent intends to address the issues raised during the planning phase and provided by the Agency following engagement and cooperation discussions. This could include issues that were raised during consultation in the planning phase as well as issues with respect to the proposed designated project. This document would be used to help the Agency determine whether an impact assessment is required and to inform the Tailored Impact Statement Guidelines.

9. What is the Detailed Project Description?

A Detailed Project Description is completed by the proponent based on the information prescribed in the Information and Management of Time Limits Regulations. The Detailed Project Description contains updated and more detailed information from the Initial Project Description that proponents have already provided as well as information about the possible environmental, social, health and economic effects of the project.

10. How is a decision regarding the need for an impact assessment made?

The decision regarding the need for an impact assessment is made by the Agency as early as possible in the planning phase. In making its decision, the Agency considers the following factors:

  • the Initial Project Description, the proponent's Response to the Summary of Issues provided by the Agency and the Detailed Project Description;
  • the possible adverse effects of the designated project that are within federal jurisdiction or the adverse effects that are directly linked or necessarily incidental to the exercise of federal power, duty or function;
  • any adverse impact the designated project may have on the rights of Indigenous peoples of Canada;
  • any comments received from the public, any jurisdiction or Indigenous groups;
  • any relevant regional or strategic assessment;
  • any study that is conducted or plan that is prepared by a provincial, territorial and Indigenous jurisdiction (in respect of a region in which the designated project is located) and that has been provided to the Agency; and
  • any other factor that the Agency considers relevant.
11. In addition to the Summary of Issues, what documents are produced by the Agency in the planning phase?

Early engagement and planning will help inform the development of documents that are used to guide the impact assessment, if an impact assessment is required. Those documents include:

  • Impact Assessment Cooperation Plan: established between the Agency and provincial, territorial and Indigenous jurisdictions on the impact assessment process. It establishes harmonized timelines, when possible, with provincial, territorial and Indigenous jurisdictions.
  • Indigenous Engagement and Partnership Plan: developed jointly with Indigenous groups and describes how they would like to be engaged and consulted throughout the assessment process. The plan will also include preferred engagement strategies and tools and, where known, opportunities for engagement with proponents and other jurisdictions. The partnerships and consultations outlined in the document would be based on the explicit recognition of Indigenous rights and interests and clearly reflect the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
  • Public Participation Plan: outlines public participation opportunities during the impact assessment process based on how members of the public indicated they would like to be engaged in the process. The plan will also include preferred engagement strategies and tools and, where known, opportunities for engagement with proponents and other jurisdictions.
  • Permitting Plan: developed in coordination with federal authorities. It provides an outline of the anticipated federal permits, licenses and authorizations required for the project.
  • Tailored Impact Statement Guidelines: outlines the information and studies required by the proponent in its Impact Statement.
12. What are other jurisdictions?

Under the Impact Assessment Act, jurisdiction is defined as:

  • A federal authority;
  • Any agency or body that is established under an Act of Parliament and that has powers, duties or functions in relation to an assessment of the environmental effects of designated project;
  • the government of a province;
  • any agency or body that is established under an Act of the legislature of a province and that has powers, duties or functions in relation to an assessment of the environmental effects of a designated project;
  • Any body – including a co-management body – established under a land claim agreement and that has powers duties of functions in relation to an assessment of the environmental effects of a designated project;
  • An Indigenous governing body that has powers, duties or functions in relation to an assessment of environmental effects of a designated project under a land claim agreement or an Act of Parliament;
  • An Indigenous governing body that has entered into an agreement or arrangement with the Minister under the Act;
  • A government of a foreign state or of a subdivision of a foreign state, or any institution of such a government; and
  • An international organization of states or any institution of such an organization.
13. What is the Registry?

The Registry is a platform, which provides convenient and timely access to information to assist the public in participating in the impact assessment process. The Registry offers a number of options to help Canadians find information on current and completed federal impact assessments.
The Registry contains information and records about impact assessments. The Registry consists of two parts:

  • an Internet site containing key information about impact assessments, and
  • project files containing all records produced, collected or submitted with respect to an impact assessment.
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