What You Should Know about Changes to Environmental Assessment Requirements under CEAA 2012
A new Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA 2012) has come into force.
The legislative changes have led to revisions to Parks Canada’s processes for reviewing project proposals to identify and address adverse environmental effects.
- For northern protected heritage places where CEAA 2012 does not apply, environmental assessment processes remain unchanged.
- For lands and waters administered by Parks Canada where CEAA 2012 applies, the prescriptive process in the former Act has been eliminated and replaced with a legislated requirement to ensure projects on federal lands do not cause significant adverse environmental effects. An assessment to fulfill Parks Canada’s CEAA 2012 obligation will be called an “Environmental Impact Analysis”, or EIA.
What is the purpose of an environmental impact analysis?
Environmental impact analysis is a process for identifying and evaluating the adverse environmental effects of projects. This process enables Parks Canada to develop measures to avoid and mitigate those effects where possible. Since Parks Canada’s mandate is to protect and present Canadian heritage, projects are assessed for potential impacts to:
- Natural resources – such as species at risk, air, ground and surface water, as well as plants and animals found in the vicinity of a project or otherwise potentially affected by it;
- Cultural resources – including evaluation of impacts to heritage value and character-defining elements of known cultural resources, and consideration of risks to areas with high potential to contain cultural resources, where no inventory has yet been completed, and
- Visitor experience opportunities – specifically how the proposed project is anticipated to adversely affect characteristics of the environment that are important to key visitor experience objectives.
In other words…
Parks Canada protects and presents outstanding examples of Canada’s natural and cultural heritage and ensures that they are protected for the enjoyment of present and future generations. Canadians regard these locations as special places. Therefore, projects within these places must be approached with special care and attention.
Important Considerations for Project Proponents south of 60
How do I determine if my project requires an EIA?
- Once you submit a description of your proposed project Parks Canada staff will review your proposal to determine if or how it will be assessed. Make sure that you present your proposal to Parks Canada early in your planning process, as the results of an EIA may require changes to your plans.
- Project proposals will first be reviewed to ensure they are compliant with Parks Canada policy and plans.
My project requires an EIA– now what?
- Parks Canada staff will provide you with Terms of Reference to outline requirements of the EIA. You may complete the EIA yourself or hire a consultant to do it. Parks Canada will review the draft EIA report and specify any necessary revisions prior to accepting a final version.
- The length of time required for the EIA process will depend on the complexity of the project, whether or not it is controversial, requires consultation, and the timing of the project. All of these considerations will be discussed with you by Parks Canada staff once the need for an EIA has been determined.
- Work associated with the project may not begin until the EIA has been approved by Parks Canada and any required permits (e.g. a building permit) have been issued.
What happens once the EIA is approved?
- You are responsible for ensuring that the mitigations and any other conditions of your approval are implemented.
- If new environmental information comes to light after the EIA is approved, or if the manner in which the project is to be carried out changes (e.g. construction methods change), additional assessment may be required. Notify your Parks Canada contact of delays or changes to your project.
- The need for a follow-up program (longer term monitoring of project impacts and success of mitigation measures) will be determined during the EIA.
- Start early! Early consultation with Parks Canada will help establish realistic timeframes and identify any additional requirements related to consultation or specialist input about potential impacts of the project.
- Build some flexibility into your planning in order to be able to respond to requirements for mitigation and follow-up monitoring identified in the EIA.
Links to information on EA:
Information on EA in northern Parks Canada sites
Information on CEAA 2012