Public participation

Public participation in federal impact assessment 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 impact assessment.

The Impact Assessment Act (IAA) recognizes this and requires that the public have meaningful opportunities to participate throughout the assessment process.

Public participation starts before formal impact assessment begins. Public participation during a project's Planning phase sets clear objectives for public participation and allows issues to be identified and relayed to the project proponent and officials from the beginning. The Planning phase also provides for the development of a Public Participation Plan, which reflects the input of the public and identifies public participation objectives, engagement opportunities at each phase of the process, and methods of engagement that align with community needs. This provides certainty for the public on how and when it will participate within the time frames set by the Impact Assessment Agency (the Agency), and 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 becomes part of the public record. This input 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 impact assessments 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 impact assessment through the Agency's Funding Program.
  • Share information and your views at key points in an impact assessment 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 impact assessment process and engagement opportunities.

Quick links

  • The Guide on Public Participation in Impact Assessment provides more detailed information on the steps in the impact assessment process and when opportunities for the public to participate occur.
  • The 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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