Environmental Assessment Process
Terms of Reference
Contents of the Screening
Parks Canada is responsible for managing the land and the resources within National Parks. That responsibility includes the management and protection of natural and cultural resources, and the promotion of the philosophy of environmental stewardship. Environmental stewardship is not only the special awareness of the importance and benefit of natural and cultural resources; it is also the incorporation of such awareness into day to day activities and practices, such that impacts to these resources are minimized.
National Parks are special places. Development projects within National Park boundaries will require special attention. Individuals carrying out such projects will require a heightened awareness of environmental stewardship.
For each project, the Environmental Assessment Process will be applied to the required level, to identify concerns, and, when necessary provide mitigating measures and provide sufficient information to allow Parks Canada to make a determination about the significance of the projects' environmental impacts.
The Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA) (1992) sets out responsibilities and procedures for the environmental assessment of projects involving the federal government. The Parks Canada policy document, "Guiding Principles and Operational Policies " (1994) reinforces this responsibility by stating that " Parks Canada will be exemplary in the implementation of federal legislation pertaining to environmental assessment and review in national parks ". The CEAA ensures that the environmental effects of projects are considered as early as possible in a projects planning process.
The level of detail required in the impact assessment varies with the significance of the impacts associated with the proposed project. An screening is the assessment level used for most projects.
The purpose of the Screening, as outlined under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act is to perform a systematic assessment
- the environmental effects of the project, including environmental effects of malfunctions or accidents that may occur in connection with the project, and the cumulative environmental effects that are likely to result from the project in combination with other projects or activities that have been or will be carried out.;
- the significance of these environmental effects;
comments from the public received in accordance with the Act and its regulations;
- technically and economically feasible measures that would mitigate any significant environmental effects of the project; and
any other matter relevant to the screening or comprehensive study that the responsible authority or, in the case of a comprehensive study the Minister may require.
- Environmental effects of the project are changes in the biophysical environment caused by the project, as well as, certain effects that flow directly from those changes. Environmental effects also include the effects of any changes to the project that may be caused by the environment.
Contents of the Screening
The screening will address the environmental implications of the proposal on park ecosystems, and include detailed information as described below. The Screening must provide information necessary to allow Parks Canada to determine the significance of the projects impact on park ecosystems, the impact of park ecosystems on the project, and to assess the need to minimize these predicted impacts. The screening will follow the format presented below.
a. Scope of Project
- general description of the principal project and any other accessory projects;
- purpose and justification;
- alternatives to the proposed project, and alternate means by which the project can be undertaken;
- how project relates to the existing conditions;
- utility services requirements - sewer, water, electric, natural gas, etc. (quantify long and short term);
- conservation and efficiency programs (i.e. water, electric, gas) incorporated into project development;
- is the project part of a larger development;
The project description should include detailed maps, design plans and photographs.
b. Project Development Procedures
- scheduling of overall development activities;
- construction scheduling, methods, materials, equipment to be used;
- clearing requirements (quantify area cleared, types and volume of timber removed);
- excavation requirements (quantity/quality of material removed);
- identify and quantify all toxic/hazardous materials to be used;
- identify waste disposal pathways for by-products ( garbage, human waste, trade waste, etc. ) associated with the project;
- identify any requirements for off-site land use;
- identify methods to minimize disturbance to park visitors;
- workforce accommodation;
c. Project Operational Requirements
- describe long-term facility operations (what is going to happen, how many people will be using the facility and for what purpose(s), infrastructure demands, etc.);
- on-site materials management;
- site security / signage;
- safe storage of fuels, toxic/hazardous materials and spill contingency plans;
- garbage/litter collection, storage and disposal methods;
- traffic flow/ parking requirements for equipment and employees;
- snow removal/storage;
- identify erosion and storm/snow runoff control measures;
d. Project Permit Requirements
2.0 Site Description
Describe the environmental components, their interrelationships and sensitivity to disturbance, at the proposed project location. This description will serve to identify and quantify the current site in its existing condition prior to any development.
This description will include the following:
- site location (UTM coordinates, geographic positioning, etc.);
- site size;
- site specific land use history (present and past);
- climate (general, micro);
- geology and hydro geology (surficial, subsurficial, special resources);
- soil types and geomorphology;
- vegetation (including species composition, overstory, shrub, and herb layer densities, crown cover, special resources);
- hydrology and watershed components (drainage areas);
- fish and wildlife (species composition, population densities, habitat use, travel corridors, special resources);
- aesthetic values;
- assessment of forest fuels build-up along site periphery including: fuel type, slope, nature and position of threatened values, degree of safety to be attained by fuel modification treatments, etc..
Note: An Urban-Wildland Interface Fire Assessment that provides information concerning values at risk with respect to facility development in a forested environment within the Rocky Mountain District, is available from the National Park Warden Services in each park.
3.0 Environmental Impacts
The proponent will provide a thorough description of the impacts to valued ecosystem components as a result of the proposed project, both during the construction phase, as well as the longer term operational phase. These impacts will be quantified where possible. Off-site impacts, as a result of project development (i.e. increased demands upon other systems) will also be identified and quantified where possible.
3.1 Environmental Effects
The identification and assessment of impacts will focus upon the following:
3.1.1 Wildlife - change in species composition and distribution, habitat change/fragmentation, displacement, corridor impairment, endangered and special species.
3.1.2 Vegetation - change in species composition or community structure, introduction of non-native species, effects on rare, endangered or special resource species.
3.1.3 Landform - physical changes, erosion potential, changes in soil structure and organic matter content, features of special interest.
3.1.4 Aquatics/Hydrological Resources - changes to fisheries ( species composition and distribution, habitat change, changes to aquatic vegetation, time boundaries for spawning/incubation, etc. ), changes to hydrologic factors (surficial and sub-surficial flow patterns, chemistry, etc.), changes to riparian features.
Identify the potential for long and short term additions of pollutants (man-made and natural) to soil, water and atmospheric environments, and the impacts from such additions.
3.3 Cultural Features
Identify the projects likely effects to :
3.3.1 Aesthetics - long and short term sensory effects to park visitors/users and residents.
3.3.2 Public Facilities and Services - access, roads, trails, utilities, parking and recreational activities.
3.3.3 Public Safety - concern will focus on risk identification and assessment of project proposal, and the management of such risk, as it affects park visitors and residents.
3.3.4 Cultural Heritage - known or potential values will be examined.
3.3.5 Socio-Economic Impacts - lifestyles, property values, employment, concern by special interest groups and quality of life.
Topic headings could include the following:
- Direct / Indirect Effects on Local or Regional Businesses and Residents
- Effects on Other Agencies and Their Projects
- Effects on Concessions
Note: If no impacts are anticipated, simply state " no impacts " under the appropriate headings.
All projects will affect their surroundings. Describe the influence of project development on surrounding facilities and resources. Discuss the environmental implications of these influences.
4.0 Mitigating Measures
List in sequence, impacts identified in the Environmental Impacts section, i.e.
4.1.1 Wildlife - state mitigation(s).
The proponent will identify measures which will be used to avoid or minimize environmental impacts. Impact mitigation will focus upon design elements, alternative construction techniques and long-term operational practices.
5.0 Cumulative Environmental Effects
Describe how the impacts of this project contribute to changes within the area over time.
6.0 Residual Impacts
Assuming mitigations of impacts as recommended, describe the environmental changes that will result from project implementation.
7.0 Surveillance Requirements
Indicate requirements for supervision to ensure implementation of environmental protection measures during construction.
8.0 Monitoring Requirements
Determine whether a follow-up program is required after project completion.
9.0 Knowledge Deficiencies
Identify knowledge deficiencies and describe how they will be overcome.
Note: Public Record
All environmental assessment documents, once completed and approved, become a public record, available to anyone making an enquiry through the public registry system. Interim documents need to be clearly marked as "Draft" copies.
All environmental assessment submissions will include five hard copies of the completed final document and an equivalent computer disk in either Wordperfect (V 5.x for Windows) or Microsoft Word (V. 6.0).