How can I get involved in the environmental assessment of a project?
Members of the public can participate at various stages of the environmental assessment process.
Once the Agency receives a complete project description, it must consider whether or not an environmental assessment is required. During this determination, the public is provided with an opportunity to comment on the proposed project and its potential for causing adverse environmental effects.
When it has been decided that an environmental assessment is required, the public is given an opportunity to comment on which aspects of the environment may be affected by the project and what should be examined during the environmental assessment.
Once the proponent submits its environmental impact statement, the public is invited to comment on the identified potential environmental effects of the project and the measures to prevent or mitigate those effects as proposed by the proponent. At this stage, avenues for comment and additional opportunities to participate may include open houses or public meetings.
Finally, the public is provided an opportunity to comment on the draft environmental assessment report. This document includes the Agency's conclusions regarding the potential environmental effects of the project, the mitigation measures that were considered and the significance of the remaining adverse environmental effects.
Check the Canadian Environmental Assessment Registry website for current opportunities for public participation. You may also wish to subscribe to the Agency News Bulletin.
Environmental Assessment by a Review Panel
The Minister of the Environment may refer an environmental assessment to a review panel if the Minister is of the opinion that it is in the public interest to do so. To make his or her decision, the Minister must consider whether the designated project may cause significant adverse environmental effects, whether there are public concerns related to the significant adverse environmental effects, and whether there are opportunities for cooperation with another jurisdiction that may be assessing the project, or any part of it.
A review panel is a group of independent experts appointed by the Minister of the Environment, in cooperation with another jurisdiction in the case of joint review panels, to conduct an environmental assessment. The members are selected on the basis of their knowledge, experience and expertise, and must be free from bias or conflict of interest relative to the designated project.
A review panel assesses whether the environmental impact statement prepared by the proponent is sufficient to proceed to public hearings. The hearings allow interested parties, including Aboriginal groups, to present evidence, concerns and comments regarding the potential environmental impacts of the designated project.
Review panels have the capacity to summon witnesses, and order witnesses to present evidence and produce records related to the environmental assessment.
The review panel prepares a report that includes its rationale, conclusions and recommendations, and submits its report to the Minister of the Environment. The report will also contain any proposed mitigation measures and suggestions for the follow-up program.
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