Environmental assessment is a development planning exercise aimed at ensuring the sustainability of resources and lands. Prior to the implementation of development projects, it examines and analyzes all the factors that influence the ecosystems, resources, and quality of life of the concerned communities. As well, public information and consultation mechanisms ensure that environmental assessment takes into account the values of individuals, groups and communities. Environmental assessment contributes to enhanced development project designs and the study of negative impacts on the human and biophysical environments with view to eliminating or mitigating them.
Pursuant to various legislation applicable in Nunavik, a company or organization planning work that is likely to significantly modify the environment must automatically prepare a study on the environmental and social impacts of its project. Following analysis of the study, the responsible bodies make a decision on whether one or more authorizations are required and, if applicable, whether these will contain specific conditions.
In Nunavik, up to (4) environmental assessment procedures may be applied:
- the procedures established under the James Bay and Northern Québec Agreement (JBNQA):
- the federal procedure under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act;
- the procedure under the Nunavik Inuit Land Claims Agreement.
The four procedures contain almost all the same basic steps:
- tabling of a preliminary project description by the project proponent;
- preparation of directives on the required scope of the impact study;
- completion of the impact study by the project proponent;
- request for additional information from the project proponent;
- a period for public information and consultation;
- analysis, and preparation of a report and recommendations;
- final decision regarding project authorization by the provincial or federal minister responsible.
The KEAC is proud to present the recently published Reference Guide on Environmental and Social Impact Assessment Procedures Applicable in Nunavik. It was created in order to clarify, simplify and differentiate between the four environmental and social impact assessment procedures that can be applied to development projects in Nunavik and with particular focus on public participation. For each procedure, you will find a short description, a flowchart and a detailed step-by-step chart, as well as contact information for each review body.
KEAC POSITION ON THE PROCEDURES
Public awareness of environmental assessment procedures
Given the complexity and diversity of the environmental assessment procedures applicable in Nunavik, the KEAC feels it is important to strengthen understanding of the different procedures. It also seeks to foster public participation in consultations during the detailed assessment of projects.
The KEAC has proposed a few related projects for Nunavik’s Inuit communities, including the creation of a training program and the production of an information pamphlet containing a plain-language description of the environmental assessment and public consultation procedures.
Application of different procedures for development projects
The KEAC feels too many environmental assessment procedures are applicable in Nunavik. For just one development project, up to four procedures could in fact be applicable. The KEAC monitors the application of the environmental assessment procedures by the responsible bodies and has produced position papers on this topic.