Environmental concern is at the forefront of major infrastructure projects in Canada. This means that large scale projects such as setting up interprovincial pipelines, nuclear energy facilities, and even big mining projects are subject to federal review. The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency Act (CEAA) and the National Energy Board Act (NEBA) are crucial in ensuring that these concerns are well-addressed at all times. Recently, the country’s federal environmental assessment system received a makeover with the introduction of Bill C-69.
This bill implements the new Impact Assessment Act (IAA) and features a revised list of activities that can lead to an impact assessment. It also outlines details about how the impact assessment process will work.
The key highlights of this Bill are:
– The Impact Assessment Agency (IAA) of Canada replaces the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency.
– The spotlight will be on sustainability with equal importance given to the impact on the community as a whole. For instance, if a project is likely to have implications on the future of the local community despite being sustainable, the proponents of the project will have to come up with an acceptable solution before they can proceed.
– There is to be a planning phase of 180 days which will see the involvement of the IAA, federal authorities, Indigenous communities, project proponents, and other stakeholders
– Two new regulations have also been put in place to identify projects that will need federal review as per the IAA terms, and to earmark the information that is to be submitted and the basis for setting time limits.
Along with Bill C-69, Bill C-68 has been introduced to fortify the protection of aquatic species and also safeguard the interests of people and communities that depend on them. The introduction of Bill C-68 has brought about significant changes to the Fisheries Act. It is important that the individuals and organizations involved in major development projects, especially in the sectors of mining, construction, oil and gas, are aware of the key facts.
Things to note are:
– Protection of all fish is emphasized as opposed to a particular species in the previous act. Thus, all species of fish, and all waters that are home to fish, assume equal importance under the new legislation. Also, now both permanent and temporary activities will come under the purview of the Fisheries Act.
– While the previous act stressed the prohibition of serious harm to fish, the current one also includes harm to fish habitat. Now there are two prohibitions in place – prohibition on causing the death of fish by any means other than fishing and ban on harmful alteration, disruption and destruction (HADD) of fish habitat. The scope of fish habitat includes spawning grounds or nurseries, fish rearing areas, and migration areas among others.
– While the earlier legislation provided for self-assessment as to whether the proposed project needs a full regulatory review process under the Fisheries Act, the current legislation provides for Codes of Practice to be established instead. Smaller projects or short-term projects that comply with these codes are likely to be allowed to proceed without formal review. Larger projects or those more lengthy that don’t adhere to the codes will be subjected to a formal review.
– Project proponents are bound by the legislation to engage and partner with Indigenous communities to determine the impact their project will have on fisheries. This is because a large number of Indigenous people are dependent on fish and aquatic species for food as well as cultural needs.
Thus, the onus is now on industrial players and associated sectors to do their part to protect the environment by adhering to these legislations. At Goodfish, we are committed to the dual purpose of protecting the environment and the interests of Indigenous communities.
By ensuring efficient cleaning of protective workwear and helping industries reuse these items, we are helping to protect the environment. In addition, our dry cleaning process (that is supported by research conducted in collaboration with the Alberta Research Council and the University of Alberta) uses a waterless system thus, keeping the environmental impact minimal – even when cleaning oily workwear. We have also managed to remain an enterprise that is wholly owned and operated by the Aboriginal community.
Bill C-69 promises to ensure that all major oil and gas. mining and construction projects in Canada take into consideration their impact on the environment and community. The aim to create a sustainable future for both our planet and these industries.