Q.1. How will this benefit Nunavummiut?
A.1. The Act would provide innovative solutions for improving regulatory processes such as project certificates and timelines for decision-makers. Specifically, the proposed Act would:
- Clearly define the roles, powers, functions and authorities of all parties.
- Address the role of Inuit in managing development on their lands.
- Streamline approvals, especially for smaller projects.
- Provide the opportunity for transboundary projects to be reviewed by joint panels, and it will harmonize environmental assessment requirements.
- Establish new and more effective enforcement tools for ensuring developers follow the terms and conditions set by the Board.
- Provide industry with clear, consistent and transparent processes, making investment in the Nunavut Settlement Area more attractive and profitable.
- Establish timelines to improve the efficiency and predictability of the regulatory regime.
- Improve the investment climate and foster job creation and long-term prosperity for Nunavummiut, by providing a more predictable process.
Q.2. What is the Nunavut Planning and Project Assessment Act?
A.2. The Nunavut Land Claims Agreement requires that Inuit and the Government of Canada establish a joint system to oversee the way resources are managed in the Nunavut Settlement Area. An important step in creating the system is the passage of laws to regulate land use planning and to assess the environmental and socio-economic impacts of development projects. The Act provides that system of laws.
Q.3. Why are we introducing this bill now?
A.3. The Northern Jobs and Growth Act is an important part of moving forward with the Government of Canada’s vision for the North. It fulfills land claim obligations, supports social and economic development, protection of the North’s environmental heritage and it supports the improvement and devolution of northern governance. With an improved regulatory regime, Northerners will have a system that reinforces their control over land and resource management in the future, which will contribute to an improved investment climate and foster economic development in Nunavut.
This bill is the result of close consultation with the Government of Nunavut, Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated, the Nunavut Impact Review Board and the Nunavut Planning Commission. Other important pieces of legislation are already in force, including the Nunavut Waters and Nunavut Surface Rights Tribunal Act.
Q.4. How was the bill developed?
A.4. Since 2002, the Nunavut Legislative Working Group, with representatives from Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., and the Government of Nunavut, with the support of the Nunavut Planning Commission (the Commission) and the Nunavut Impact Review Board (the Board), have been working on developing the legislation.
Q.5. How were consultations on this bill structured and who was involved?
A.5. The consultations on this bill are unprecedented. The Nunavut Legislative Working Group represented a unique co-development arrangement that set out how Canada, Nunavut and Inuit would cooperate to work through interpretations of the Agreement and policy issues. Regular meetings of the Nunavut Legislative Working Group took place between 2002 and 2007 so that the majority of these policy issues were resolved in principle before drafting of the bill began. Drafting proceeded through 2010 with periodic reviews of the draft bill conducted by the Working Group. This co-development approach reflected Canada’s obligation under Article 2.6.1 of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement (the Agreement) to “consult closely” with Inuit in the preparation of the bill.
In April 2009, a consultation draft legislative proposal was circulated to Nunavut stakeholders and others in neighbouring jurisdictions, including industry, environmental and Aboriginal organizations for comment, and visits to a number of Nunavut communities in all regions were undertaken.
A follow-up round of consultations with the same stakeholders was conducted in July and August of 2009, following the completion of a further draft of the legislative proposal on June 30, 2009. The Working Group met through the fall of 2009 and the winter and spring of 2010, considering residual policy implications and public input. Additional meetings and workshops were conducted with the mining and oil and gas industries, and the resolution of outstanding issues with NTI preceded the final drafting of the bill in the spring of 2010.
Bill C-25 was introduced in Parliament in May 2010 after all the changes and recommendations were implemented. It died on the Order Paper at the call of the 2011 General Election. Stakeholder engagement then continued through to the fall of 2011 with NTI and Industry as modifications and editorial improvements were made to the bill.
Q.6. What is in the bill?
A.6. The bill has six components:
Part 1 confirms the establishment of the Commission and the Board. It describes their powers, duties and functions, and how members will be appointed.
Part 2 defines how, and by whom, Land Use Plans will be prepared, amended, reviewed and implemented in Nunavut. “Land Use Planning” is the process of deciding how lands, waters, marine areas and resources will be protected, developed or conserved.
Part 3 sets out the process by which the Commission and the Board will examine, consult, and respond to specific project proposals, determine whether they conform to the land use plan and assess how these projects will affect the Nunavut Settlement Area. Any project proposed in the Nunavut Settlement Area will be carefully examined for its potential impact and benefits.
Part 4 provides an opportunity for the Board, with the support of government, to review and assess projects outside the Nunavut Settlement Area that may nevertheless have an adverse impact on the Nunavut Settlement Area.
Part 5 contains general provisions for coordinating the activities of public government institutions, the use of information, monitoring, the establishment and maintenance of public registries, grandfathering, administration and enforcement, judicial matters and regulations.
Part 6 describes the way that the Act will come into force, and required changes to other legislation.
Q.7. What is the proposed process for approving projects?
A.7. Project proposals are submitted to the Commission, and reviewed to make sure that they conform with the requirements of any relevant approved Land Use Plan. The bill defines what kind and scope of activity constitutes a “project”. The Commission then passes project proposals on to the Board for screening.
Following the screening, projects may be sent to the Board or to a federal panel for additional review. If the appropriate Ministers approve the project, the Board will issue a project certificate setting out the terms under which the project may proceed.
Q.8. What is the purpose of the Nunavut Planning and Project Assessment Act?
A.8. The bill will streamline the impact assessment process and provide industry with clear, consistent, predictable and transparent guidelines which will encourage economic development opportunities.
Q.9. How did the consultation process work?
A.9. The proposed Act is the result of open, honest and widely held negotiations, discussions and consultations with the Government of Nunavut, Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated, the Board and the Commission.
The Working Group met through the fall of 2009 and the winter and spring of 2010, considering residual policy implications and public input. Additional meetings and workshops were conducted with the mining and oil and gas industries, and the resolution of outstanding issues with Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. (NTI) preceded the final drafting of the bill.
The development of the bill also included regular contact and consultation with other federal government departments, including Fisheries and Oceans, Environment, National Defence, Transport Canada, and Parks Canada.
NTI has participated fully right from the beginning and has been instrumental in many key design features. Although not all of their suggestions were able to be accommodated, all of their comments were given fair review and consideration. The vast majority were accepted and have been included in the final draft of the bill.
This proposed legislation balances the opinions and positions of several stakeholders, which has resulted in legislation that serves the interests of the people of Nunavut.
Q.10. What impacts will the bill have on how land use planning and environmental assessments are conducted in Nunavut?
A.10. The most significant changes being proposed are the inclusion of timelines that will improve predictability and certainty for investors. The Northern Projects Management Office will continue to play a key role in providing advice and path-finding services to industry, Aboriginal communities and territorial partners to improve the timeliness, predictability and transparency of regulatory processes in the North to help create a more stable and attractive investment climate in the territories. The bill provides additional measures for environmental protection, such as an enforcement scheme to ensure approved terms and conditions are implemented.