The Government of Canada has introduced Bill C-69, An Act to enact the Impact Assessment Act and the Canadian Energy Regulator Act, to amend the Navigation Protection Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts in the House of Commons. The key proposal is a assessment process that shifts away from “environmental assessments” towards “impact assessments”, which will consider socioeconomic impacts of a project in addition to environmental considerations. According to the Environment Minister, this process will also consider whether projects are consistent with Canada’s climate change commitments under the Paris Agreement. Impact assessments will be overseen by a new agency called the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada.
With respect to navigable waters, the legislation includes amendments to the Navigation Protection Act, that will:
- provide new, modern safeguards to ensure a new standard of transparency;
- create new partnership opportunities for Indigenous Peoples, including in the administration of the Act;
- include a number of robust powers to enhance compliance with the Act;
- provide clear rules about permit and notification requirements for project affecting navigable waters.