Operational Guide: Requesting a Regional or Strategic Assessment under the Impact Assessment Act

This document is for information purposes only. It is not a substitute for the Impact Assessment Act or its regulations. In the event of an inconsistency between this document and the Impact Assessment Act or its regulations, the Impact Assessment Act or its regulations, as the case may be, would prevail.

Purpose

This document describes the process for making a request to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change (the Minister) to conduct a regional or strategic assessment under the Impact Assessment Act (the Act).

Authority under the Impact Assessment Act

Sections 92 and 93 of the Act allow the Minister to establish a committee or to authorize the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada (the Agency) to conduct a regional assessment of the effects of existing or future physical activities carried out in a region. If a committee is established to conduct a regional assessment in a region that is not entirely made up of federal lands, the Minister may enter into an agreement with a jurisdiction to establish the committee and the manner in which the regional assessment is to be conducted.

Section 95 of the Act allows the Minister to establish a committee or to authorize the Agency to conduct a strategic assessment of any proposed or existing Government of Canada policy, plan or program that is relevant to conducting impact assessment, or of any issue that is relevant to conducting impact assessments of designated projects or of a class of designated projects.

Under subsection 97(1) of the Act, the Minister must respond to any request for a regional or strategic assessment to be conducted. In accordance with the Information and Management of Time Limits Regulations established under the Act, the Minister’s response, with reasons, must be provided within 90 days of receiving the request for a regional or strategic assessment, and must be posted on the Canadian Impact Assessment Registry (the Registry).

Process for Requesting a Regional or Strategic Assessment

Anyone may request a regional or strategic assessment, including members of the public, an Indigenous community, a non-governmental organization, an industry association or another jurisdiction. Requests must be sent to the Minister at minister-ministre.ec@canada.ca. Please also send a copy of the request to the Agency at ceaa.information.acee@canada.ca.

The Agency advises the Minister in deciding whether to conduct regional or strategic assessments under the Act.

Following receipt of a request to conduct a regional or strategic assessment, the Agency will acknowledge receipt of the request and will begin the supporting analysis required to make a recommendation to the Minister. The Agency may contact the requester for additional information or clarification. The Agency will then prepare a recommendation for the Minister.

For a regional assessment, the recommendation would be informed by a number of considerations, including whether:

For strategic assessments, the recommendation would be informed by a number of considerations, including whether:

To inform the recommendation, the Agency may seek information from stakeholders, solicit advice from federal departments, consult with provinces, other jurisdictions and Indigenous groups, and seek further input from the requester and any other person or entity. In seeking information, the Agency will not undertake a formal comment period.

In developing a recommendation for the Minister, the Agency may also take into account a number of other factors, including:

Once the Minister decides whether to conduct a regional or strategic assessment, the response with reasons will be posted on the Registry. In addition, the Agency will provide notification to the requester, along with the Minister’s reasons for the determination.

The Annexes to this document set out the general information that should be included when preparing a request for a regional or strategic assessment. Information provided by any party would be considered to be on the public record and may be posted to the Registry.

Annex I: Preparing a Request for Regional Assessment

To help ensure that the request process proceeds efficiently, please include:

To inform your explanation of why a regional assessment should be conducted, please consider the following questions. These questions are meant to inform your request and are not meant to be inclusive of all the information that you may want to provide.

  1. Is large-scale development, including potential designated projects under the Act, expected in the next 5–10 years in the region?
  2. Are there environmentally or otherwise sensitive areas or components located in the region that might be affected by development?
  3. Does current and future development in the region have the potential to cause adverse effects, including cumulative effects, that fall within federal jurisdiction? Effects that fall within federal jurisdiction include:
    • effects on fish and fish habitat;
    • effects on aquatic species, as defined in subsection 2(1) of the Species at Risk Act;
    • effects on migratory birds;
    • changes to the environment on federal lands;
    • changes to the environment that occur in a province or territory other than the one where the project is taking place;
    • changes to the environment that occur outside of Canada;
    • changes to the environment that could affect the Indigenous peoples of Canada;
    • any change occurring to the health, social or economic conditions of the Indigenous peoples of Canada; and
    • changes to components of the environment, health, social or economic matters set out in Schedule 3 of the Act.
  4. Does development in the region have the potential to cause adverse impacts on the rights of Indigenous people?
  5. How would the regional assessment inform future federal impact assessments?

Annex II: Preparing a Request for Strategic Assessment

To help ensure that the request process proceeds efficiently, please include:

To inform your explanation of why a strategic assessment should be conducted, please consider the following questions. These questions are meant to inform your request and are not meant to be inclusive of all the information that you may want to provide.

  1. Does the policy, plan, program or issue have clear links to impact assessment?
  2. Does the policy, plan, program or issue have the potential to cause adverse effects, including cumulative effects, that fall within federal jurisdiction? Effects that fall with federal jurisdiction include:
    • effects on fish and fish habitat;
    • effects on aquatic species, as defined in subsection 2(1) of the Species at Risk Act;
    • effects on migratory birds;
    • changes to the environment on federal lands;
    • changes to the environment that occur in a province or territory other than the one where the project is taking place;
    • changes to the environment that occur outside of Canada;
    • changes to the environment that could affect the Indigenous peoples of Canada;
    • any change occurring to the health, social or economic conditions of the Indigenous peoples of Canada; and
    • changes to components of the environment, health, social or economic matters set out in Schedule 3 of the Act.
  3. Does the policy, plan, program or issue intersect with, relate to, or have the potential to cause impacts on the rights of Indigenous people?
  4. How would the strategic assessment inform future federal impact assessments?
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