Process

Impact Assessment in the Eeyou Marine Region

What is Impact Assessment?

An impact assessment is a tool used to identify, predict, and evaluate the environmental, social, and economic impacts of a proposed project, allowing for informed decision-making when new development projects are proposed. In the EMR, all projects requiring Government permits or authorizations—including academic, tourism, and development projects—are assessed by the EMRIRB to determine whether they should be allowed to proceed, and if so, under what terms and conditions.

EMRIRB assessments consider the potential eco-systemic impacts (e.g., on the land, air, water, fish, and wildlife) and socio-economic impacts (e.g., on the health and well-being of people and communities) of proposed projects to determine their impact potential. The purpose of this process is to identify ways to reduce negative impacts and shape projects to benefit the communities of the EMR.

The EMRIRB's assessment process is made up of three stages. During a screening, the EMRIRB has 45 days to gather written feedback and decide whether a project requires a full review. At the review stage, it gathers extensive written and oral input from all interested parties, the public, and the proponent, culminating in a formal hearing and a recommendation as to whether the project should proceed. Finally, approved projects are monitored until completion.

Introduction to the EMRIRB

For more information regarding our duties and functions, please view our guide.

The EMRIRB's Integrated Regulatory System

The EMR has an integrated regulatory structure established by the EMRLCA whereby the EMRIRB coordinates and cooperates with the EMR Planning Commission, the EMR Wildlife Board, and other agencies. Under this system, project proposals are first submitted to the Planning Commission to ensure conformity with any EMR land use plans. There is currently no approved land use plan in the EMR. The Commission also makes a determination as to the requirement for screening. The types of project proposals exempt from screening are listed under Schedule 18-1 of the EMRLCA.

If the Planning Commission determines a project proposal conforms to an approved land use plan, and that it is not exempt from the requirement for screening, it will, subject to sections 18.3.2, 18.3.3, and 18.4.3 of Chapter 18 of the EMRLCA, forward it to the EMRIRB for screening.

To assist the Planning Commission in making its determination, proponents are required to fill out a pre-screening questionnaire on the EMRIRB’s Public Registry. The questionnaire requires a description of the project and its proposed location, along with information on necessary permits, authorizations, and/or licenses and associated regulatory authorities.

Screening

The purpose of the screening process is to determine if a proposed project has the potential to cause sufficient damage to the EMR to warrant a formal review, or whether the project should be allowed to proceed and receive its required permits, licenses, and approvals without further assessment. EMRIRB screenings can last up to 45 days and include a 21-day public comment period.

As per section 18.4.2 of the EMRLCA, the EMRIRB will generally determine a review is required when:

  • The project may have significant adverse effects on the ecosystem, wildlife habitat or Cree harvesting activities
  • The project may have significant adverse socio-economic effects
  • The project will cause significant public concern
  • The project involves technological innovations for which the effects are unknown

If it is determined that a proposed project has the potential to adversely impact the EMR, the project is recommended for a review.

EMRIRB---PROCESS

Project proposal submission and screening process

For more information regarding project screening, please view our guide.

Review

When it is determined that a proposed project requires a review, the EMRIRB issues guidelines to the project proponent for the preparation of an impact statement, which provides the informational basis for the review. The impact statement generally contains information such as the purpose and need for the project, anticipated eco-systemic and socio-economic impacts, anticipated effects on the environment, measures to mitigate adverse impacts, benefits of the project, monitoring plans, effects on wildlife and use of wildlife by the Cree, and any other matters that the EMRIRB considers relevant. Section 18.5.2 of the agreement provides a list of the general requirements of an impact statement.

When reviewing any project proposal, the EMRIRB takes into account all matters relevant to its mandate, including:

  • Whether the project would enhance and protect the existing and future well-being of those who reside in or use the EMR, and of the coastal Cree communities of Eeyou Istchee, while taking into account the interests of all Canadians
  • Whether the project would excessively impact the eco-systemic integrity of the EMR
  • Whether a proposed project reflects the priorities and values of people residing in or using the EMR, and of the coastal Cree communities of Eeyou Istchee
  • Steps that the proponent proposes to take to avoid and mitigate adverse impacts
  • Steps the proponent proposes to take, or that should be taken, to compensate interests adversely affected by the project
  • The monitoring program that the proponent proposes to establish, or that should be established, for eco-systemic and socio-economic impacts
  • Steps that the proponent proposes to take, or that should be taken, to restore eco-systemic integrity following project abandonment, including a procedure of community input for developing and implementing close-out plans

Review Process

For more information regarding project reviews, please view our guide.

Monitoring

After screening or reviewing a project proposal, the EMRIRB issues a public report to the Minister and the proponent containing its assessment of the project and its determination as to whether the project should proceed, along with any terms and conditions. The Minister reviews the EMRIRB’s determination and either accepts, rejects, or varies the terms and conditions, providing written reasons for each decision and making them public. If, following a review, the Minister accepts the EMRIRB's determination that a project should proceed, the EMRIRB issues a project certificate, including any terms and conditions accepted or varied by the Minister.

Terms and conditions contained in an EM­RIRB Project Certificate, a Screening Deci­sion Report, or an approval issued by the Nunavut Water Board may provide for the establishment of a monitoring program for a project, which may specify responsibilities for the proponent, the EMRIRB, and Government agencies. Monitoring is an important tool for check­ing the accuracy of predictions made during an impact assessment and for determining the effectiveness of measures taken to mitigate any potential adverse effects. Every ap­proved project in the EMR is monitored in some form.

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Project Monitoring

For more information regarding EMRIRB monitoring programs, please view our guide.