The new Impact Assessment Act

The new Impact Assessment Act forms part of Bill C-69, which had its first reading in the House of Commons yesterday (February 8, 2018). While not an extensive review, I've summarized some initial observations.  

Factors to be considered. Note: Indigenous knowledge, sustainability and climate change, Section 22

g) traditional knowledge of the Indigenous peoples of Canada provided with respect to the designated project;
(h) the extent to which the designated project contributes to sustainability;
(i) the extent to which the effects of the designated project hinder or contribute to the Government of Canada’s ability to meet its environmental obligations and its commitments in respect of climate change;
(j) any change to the designated project that may be caused by the environment;
(k) the requirements of the follow-up program in respect of the designated project;
(l) considerations related to Indigenous cultures raised with respect to the designated project;
(m) community knowledge provided with respect to the designated project.

Time limits somewhat shorter, Sections 28 and 37
Agency reviews are 300 days, review panels have 600 days. As before, timelines can be extended at minister’s discretion.  

Substitution, Section 33
Substitution is possible at Minister’s discretion, but must satisfy several conditions including:

d) the process to be substituted will include consultations with any Indigenous group that may be affected by the carrying out of the designated project;
(e) the public will be given an opportunity to participate in the assessment and to provide comments on a draft report;
(f) the public will have access to records in relation to the assessment to enable its meaningful participation;
(g) at the end of the assessment, a report will be submitted to the Minister;
(h) the report will be made available to the public

What constitutes “public interest”, Section 63

(a) the extent to which the designated project contributes to sustainability;
(d) the impact that the designated project may have on any Indigenous group and any adverse impact that the designated project may have on the rights of the Indigenous peoples of Canada recognized and affirmed by section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982; and
(e) the extent to which the effects of the designated project hinder or contribute to the Government of Canada’s ability to meet its environmental obligations and its commitments in respect of climate change.

Regional and strategic assessments remain discretionary, Section 92-103.

Early planning (see: The proposed new system)
Prior to submission of the Impact Statement, there is an "early planning" phase that can take up to 180 days. This is engaging the public and Indigenous communities earlier in the process than was previously required under CEAA 2012. 

Consultation is now underway on the impact assessment regulations. Open until April 15, 2018 at: https://www.impactassessmentregulations.ca/