On June 5, the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, Environment and Natural Resources issued 190 recommendations for Bill C-69. Industry has been satisfied by the 190 amendments and shows that the Senate is listening to the business community while still ensuring environmental efficacy.
The purpose of the contentious bill was to establish an impact assessment process that helps protect the environment and the health and safety of Canadians; that enhances Canada’s global competitiveness; and where infrastructure decisions can be made in a predictable and timely manner, providing certainty to investors and stakeholders. All of these facets are supported by the Surrey Board of Trade.
“With the amendments, clarity has been improved, timelines firmed up to ensure investor and stakeholder certainty municipalities and provinces are included, and the use of technical expertise was increased,” stated Anita Huberman, CEO of the Surrey Board of Trade.
“We need the Federal Government to take another look at all of the Senate’s amendments to Bill C-69 and approve them.”
“We wanted to see a bill that would engage our communities, experts, and stakeholders to ensure that industry does not suffer. The Impact Assessment Act includes amendments that will focus on the certainty of economic development. This is pertinent to ensure that Surrey and Canada continues to showcase its competitiveness on the global stage.”
A summary of the Senate amendments to Bill C-69 include:
1. Emphasis on investment, innovation and economic development – now referenced throughout the Bill and proposed Impact Assessment Act.
2. Strengthened independence of the Agency and reduced political discretion – The new Impact Assessment Agency is now primarily in control of timelines, deciding on when prescribed activities have been completed, and identifying what additional information may be necessary. The Minister of Environment nor the President of the Agency may direct the Agency or a review panel with respect to a report, decision or recommendation. Scope-creep is limited by the amendment as well.
3. More reliant timelines – A total timeline of 600 days for projects to be reviewed has been reaffirmed; Government-in-Council must make a decision within 720 days; The Minister must respond to a request for designating a project in 30 days; an application may not be delayed due to in-progress regional or strategic assessments.
4. Increased clarity – The Agency defines what constitutes “meaningful” public participation and specifies the manner in which participation may occur. Sustainability is now defined in terms of environmental, health, social and economic effects, and/or specific federal policies and guidance documents on sustainability.
5. Stronger role of municipalities and reinforcement of provincial jurisdiction – municipalities must be consulted at different points during the impact assessment process. Provincial jurisdictions is made explicit.
6. Acknowledgement of the unique circumstances of Indigenous women – Amendments explicitly acknowledge the role of Indigenous women and their views and knowledge will be brought forward in a specific and impactful way.
7. Greater reliance on the technical expertise of lifecycle regulators – The Minister of Natural Resources must be consulted when the Minister of the Environment establishes a roster of potential review panel members. (the roster comprises either members of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) or Commissioners of the Canadian Energy Regulator (CER), as appropriate.)
8. Change to what projects undergo Impact Assessment – the amendments specifically exclude a number of project types from becoming reviewable projects, including oil sands; pipelines that are not offshore, interprovincial or longer than 40 kilometres; wind projects; solar projects; natural gas extraction; and power generation using natural gas. Uranium mines and mills are specified as activities that do not come under review as part of the Nuclear Safety and Control Act. As described earlier, the amendments limit the Minister of Environment’s ability to designate projects not already on the project list to those where the effects would be complex or novel, or where there are unique or exceptional circumstances. The amendments also limit what can appear before a review panel (as opposed to reviewed by the Agency); the project must be “substantially different” from any project that had previously been reviewed by a review panel. Any designation must also take into consideration whether a regional or strategic assessment has already been completed.
“These changes are beneficial for our future. We acknowledge and support these amendments as they were constructed in collaboration with industry and move the conversation beyond party affiliation.”
For more information, please contact Anita Huberman at 604-634-0342 or firstname.lastname@example.org