Procedures established under the James Bay and Northern Québec Agreement ( JBNQA)
Section 23 of the JBNQA establishes two environmental and social impact assessment and review procedures applicable only in Nunavik:
- a provincial procedure for projects under Québec jurisdiction (ex. mines, roads, etc.);
- a federal procedure for projects under Canadian jurisdiction (ex. wharfs).
Schedules 1 and 2 of Section 23 identify respectively categories of projects automatically subject to or exempt from the procedures. Projects that do not fall under categories contained in the schedules are considered to be grey-zone projects. Each grey-zone project is assessed on a case-by-case basis to determine whether it is subject to or exempt from assessment. Schedule 3 of Section 23 of the JBNQA sets out the basic elements of an environmental and social impact study.
Section 23 of the JBNQA establishes guiding principles that must be taken into account during project planning and analysis:
- protection of Native peoples, their societies and their economies;
- reduction of the impacts on Native peoples;
- protection of hunting, fishing and trapping rights;
- participation of Native peoples and regional residents.
Review of Section 23 of the JBNQA and its schedules
The JBNQA provides for the periodic updating of the schedules of Section 23. To date, no review has ever been completed. In 2009, the KEAC transmitted to the provincial and federal administrators of the JBNQA its Position Paper on Strengthening the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment and Review Procedure in Nunavik. The paper contains three main recommendations: update the contents of schedules 1 and 2 of Section 23; revise the environmental and social impact assessment and review procedure and modernize public information and participation stages; and introduce strategic environmental assessment.
MDDELLC Working Group on Public Participation
Improved public participation, transparency and access to information are KEAC priorities contained in the organization’s 2009 position paper on the strengthening of the environmental and social impact assessment and review procedure in Nunavik. In 2010, the JBNQA provincial administrator created a working group with representatives from the KEAC, the KRG, the Kativik Environmental Quality Commission and the MDDELCC. The working group is continuing to discuss the process of modernizing public information and consultation mechanisms.
In 2012, the working group proposed the following:
- implement a public registry of projects subject to the procedure, available on the Internet and including all documentation related to the projects;
- foster information for the public;
- foster public participation;
- ensure the preparation of a report following each public hearing.
Below is a link to the online database of all past and current development projects north of the 55th parallel that have been subject to provincial environmental and social assessment (French only).