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Comments on a Ministerial Order

6 months ago
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Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions / Développement économique Canada pour les régions du Québec 6 months ago
Afin de faciliter l’évaluation environnementale, nos personnes-ressources à l’Agence suggère le développement d’un outil géomatique qui permettrait de faciliter l’analyse environnementale des projets soumis (par exemple des filtres géomatiques pour sol contaminés, enjeux milieu humides etc.). Ces données ne sont pas accessibles facilement actuellement.
Nature Canada 6 months ago
Nature CanadaAugust 21, 2019The Honourable Catherine McKennaMinister of Environment and Climate Change200 Sacré-Coeur BoulevardGatineau, QC, K1A 0H3Sent via online submission at Nature Canada Comments on the Consultation Paper on Ministerial Exclusion Order Dear Minister McKenna,Nature Canada is pleased to comment in response to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency’s request for public input on the “Consultation Paper on a Ministerial Order That Sets out the Classes of Projects on Federal Lands and Outside Canada That Will Cause Only Insignificant Adverse Environmental Effects” (“Consultation Paper”).Nature Canada recommends that the proposed Ministerial Exclusion Order not apply to federal lands administered by Parks Canada nor to other federal lands that are protected for nature conservation purposes pursuant to federal law (e.g., National Wildlife Areas under the Canada Wildlife Act, Marine Protected Areas under the Oceans Act). Nature Canada makes this recommendation for several reasons. First, the Consultation Paper does not take into account the fact that any determination of insignificant adverse environmental effects depends on legislative and ecological context. Legislative context matters. For example, the Consultation Paper does not refer to the fact that the “Maintenance or restoration of ecological integrity . . .” “shall be the first priority of the Minister when considering all aspects of the management of parks” under the Canada National Parks Act. As Minister, you also have a duty to carry out measures for the conservation of wildlife in National Wildlife Areas established under the Canada Wildlife Act. The determination of insignificance for the purposes of the Ministerial Exclusion Order needs to be considered in the context of these statutory duties; Nature Canada is not aware of any publicly available evidence that this has been done. Ecological context also matters. Nature Canada concedes that the placement of a park bench on Parliament Hill would likely cause insignificant adverse environmental effects. However, placement of the same park bench in a National Park could well have significant adverse effects on caribou if sited beside a caribou pathway (because it could result in an increase in human visitors to that area resulting in a potentially adverse change to caribou movements). Second, the objective of the Ministerial Exclusion Order is to obviate the s.82 duty of a federal authority to make a determination that the carrying out of a project on federal lands is not likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects. The s. 82 duty is itself a very modest responsibility on the part of federal authorities; the bureaucratic effort to meet this duty is truly minimal compared to the effort associated with conducting an impact assessment under the Impact Assessment Act. Nature Canada’s view, therefore, is that strong evidence is needed to exempt a federal authority from this s. 82 duty with respect to a category of projects; the Consultation Paper provides no such evidence in support of any of the proposed exclusions. Third, the proposed Ministerial Exclusion Order does not allow for consideration of the cumulative effects of multiple small projects on Canada’s federal protected areas. One impact of the Ministerial Exclusion Order would be that federal authorities will have no obligation to collect data on excluded projects that could inform an understanding of emerging adverse cumulative effects. Fourth, the proposed Ministerial Exclusion Order creates a potential loophole for approval of environmentally harmful projects on federal lands given that there would be no oversight on adverse environmental effects on the part of any federal authority. The projects proposed for exclusion are varied and often described in imprecise terms. For example, Category 17 of the Consultation Paper proposes to exclude construction of in water structures, which could result in a range of serious adverse environmental effects unrelated to fish habitat or species at risk conservation. Rather than a ministerial order with lengthy lists of project categories that will often require legal advice to determine which projects should be excluded (or not), Nature Canada recommends that Parks Canada and Environment and Climate Change Canada establish a single, comprehensive system for making s. 82 determinations in protected areas that allows you as Minister to declare with confidence that no projects in National Parks or National Wildlife Area undertaken in any given year will have significant adverse environmental effects. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans should establish a similar system for Marine Protected Areas. Finally, Nature Canada is deeply concerned that the scientific, technical and engineering evidence and standards supporting exclusion of projects identified in the Consultation Paper has not been shared publicly. The Consultation Paper claims--as the Discussion Paper for the Project List Regulations also claimed--that the entries are based on the experience of federal authorities and through the application of effective and established mitigation measures. At a minimum, documentation of this federal experience and these mitigation measures should be shared publicly before the order is issued. In the absence of public sharing of such information, it is fair comment that the proposed entries for the Ministerial Exclusion Order—not to mention those under the Project List Regulations--are arbitrary. A decision to revise the proposed Ministerial Exclusion Order to ensure that it does not apply to federal protected areas would serve as an important statement by your government that nature truly does come first in National Parks and National Wildlife Areas. Sincerely Stephen HazellDirector of Policy and General Counsel cc. Hon. Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans
Metis Settlements General Council 6 months ago
With respect to the types of projects NOT included in the classes set out in the position paper, one of the exemption criteria is "projects that involve: removal of or damage to known or potential archaeological, heritage, or architectural buildings, structures,or resources". It is recommended that this be re-worded to also include "known or suspected Indigenous traditional land use sites and areas."