Canada, B.C. strengthen co-operation on impact assessments
Catherine McKenna, federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change, and George Heyman, British Columbia’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, have signed a bilateral agreement to co-operate on project reviews under Canada’s new Impact Assessment Act and British Columbia’s new Environmental Assessment Act.
The governments of Canada and British Columbia are working together to protect the environment and strengthen the economy. The Canada-British Columbia Impact Assessment Cooperation Agreement sets out how the two jurisdictions will work together on impact assessments that require approvals from both levels of government, using substituted and co-ordinated assessments and joint review panels. This will ensure a more predictable and timely process, increased efficiency and certainty, and result in quality assessments that draw on the best available expertise.
The agreement includes a commitment for Canada and British Columbia to work together to co-ordinate co-operation and collaboration with Indigenous peoples through impact assessments.
The agreement was informed by feedback from the public, industry, stakeholders and Indigenous peoples, including feedback received during a 30-day comment period.
Catherine McKenna, federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change —
“By making the Impact Assessment Act law, the Government of Canada has delivered on an important promise to Canadians – to put in place better rules and restore public trust in how decisions about resource development and other major projects are made. With the guiding principle of ‘one project, one assessment,’ the new impact assessment system will make sure good projects are built in a sustainable way.”
George Heyman, B.C.’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy —
“This agreement supports B.C.’s revitalized environmental assessment process. It affirms our commitment to working with our federal counterparts, while retaining our independent decision-making authorities, as we conduct environmental assessments that are efficient, transparent, robust, instil public confidence, respect the rights and knowledge of Indigenous peoples and protect the environment, while offering clear pathways to sustainable project approvals.”
- Co-operation agreements set out ways the Government of Canada will work with another jurisdiction, such as a province or Indigenous jurisdiction, to align project reviews when both jurisdictions are reviewing the same project.
- There are several ways for jurisdictions to work together under the Impact Assessment Act:
- Co-ordination, where jurisdictions co-ordinate activities and, where possible, harmonize timelines and documents.
- Delegation, where the federal government delegates some tasks to one or more jurisdictions, while remaining responsible for the overall process.
- Substitution, where the federal government allows a jurisdiction’s process to replace the federal process, with each jurisdiction making its own decision based on a single assessment report.
- Joint Review Panel, where jurisdictions jointly appoint panel members and agree on terms of reference for an independent panel to conduct the impact assessment.
To read the Canada-British Columbia Impact Assessment Cooperation Agreement, visit: https://www.canada.ca/en/impact-assessment-agency/corporate/acts-regulations/legislation-regulations/canada-british-columbia-impact-assessment-cooperation/canada-bc-cooperation-agreement.html
To view an infographic on Cooperative Impact Assessments, visit: https://www.canada.ca/en/impact-assessment-agency/corporate/acts-regulations/legislation-regulations/cooperative-impact-assessments.html
To learn more about the impact assessment process, visit: https://www.canada.ca/en/impact-assessment-agency/services/policy-guidance/impact-assessment-process-overview.html
To read the Practitioner’s Guide to Federal Impact Assessments under the Impact Assessment Act, visit: https://www.canada.ca/en/impact-assessment-agency/services/policy-guidance/practitioners-guide-impact-assessment-act.html
Learn more about how B.C. is revitalizing its environmental assessment process: www.gov.bc.ca/eao/revitalization
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