Public participation in federal impact assessment (IA) ensures an open, balanced process and strengthens the quality and credibility of a project's review. Community and Indigenous knowledge about a project's physical location can help to identify and address potential impacts of a designated project at the early stage of an IA.
The Impact Assessment Act recognizes this and requires that the public have meaningful opportunities to participate throughout the assessment process.
Engagement starts even before the formal impact assessment begins. Engaging during a project's Planning Phase sets clear objectives for public participation and allows for issues to be identified and relayed to the project proponent and officials right at the start. The Planning Phase also provides for the development of a Public Participation Plan that reflects the input of the public and that will identify participation objectives, engagement opportunities at each phase of the process, and methods of engagement that align with the needs of communities. In other words, it will provide certainty for the public on how and when it will participate within the timelines set by the Agency. This helps build awareness and trust in the process.
Throughout the impact assessment process, the Agency or, where applicable, a Review Panel, will engage the public in ways that align with the objectives of the Public Participation Plan.
What the public says throughout the process will be documented in an Impact Assessment Report and become part of the public record. This will be considered by the Minister of Environment and Climate Change or by Cabinet in making the public interest decision about the project, as required under the legislation.
There are a number of opportunities to participate in federal IAs under the Impact Assessment Act.
How to get involved
- Check the Canadian Impact Assessment Registry for information on projects and current opportunities to participate.
- Apply for funding to assist your participation, or that of your organization or group, in an IA through the Agency's Funding Program.
- Share information and your views at key points in an IA process such as in the Planning Phase. Public input on key issues and concerns are taken into account before decisions are made.
- Engage early and participate in the development of the Public Participation Plan which will outline how the public will be engaged.
- Participate in engagement opportunities such as workshops or review panel public hearings.
- Get on the mailing list for a project review to be kept informed of the IA process and engagement opportunities.
- The Interim Guide on Public Participation in Impact Assessment provides more detailed information on the steps in the IA process and when opportunities for the public to participate occur.
- The Interim Policy Context on Public Participation provides information about the Agency, public participation approaches and principles and how the public will be provided the opportunity to meaningfully participate in impact assessments, regional assessments and strategic assessments.
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