Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada
("AANDC") has released details of its new Environmental
Review Process (ERP) under the Canadian Environmental
Assessment Act, 2012 (CEAA 2012). This process will apply to
any person seeking to undertake lower-risk or less complex projects
on First Nations reserve land that do not require an environmental
Background to the Environmental Review Process
The ERP was developed under Government of Canada's policy of
Responsible Resource Development. It is a streamlined, faster
environmental review for lower-risk or less complex projects on
reserve lands. Projects designated under CEAA 2012 will not be
subject to an ERP, but will continue to follow the regular
environmental assessment process.
AANDC has jurisdiction to issue permits, leases and funding on
reserves. As a federal authority under CEAA 2012, AANDC must review
these projects for their potential to cause significant adverse
environmental effects prior to making any decision to approve a
Key Features of the Environmental Review Process
Project requirements –to trigger an ERP,
a project must
fall under the definition of "project" in section 66
of CEAA, 2012
not be a "designated project" within the meaning of
the CEAA 2012 Regulations Designating Physical Activities
not be a matter of national security or a national emergency,
require the involvement of AANDC, such as through an
Process requirements – proponents must
fill out a project description form provided by AANDC.
Application of other Federal laws – The
ERP will apply in addition to other federal laws and permitting
requirements, such as the Fisheries Act, Species at
Risk Act and the Canadian Environmental Protection Act,
Information requirements – To
establish whether Aboriginal consultation is warranted, the ERP
will require information about First Nations traditional,
historical, archaeological and/or cultural use areas in the project
ERP considerations – The ERP will
consider off-reserve impacts, including compliance with provincial
environmental legislation and the need to consult with other First
Nations groups and non-indigenous communities. The ERP will
consider impacts to flora and fauna, as well as water and soil
The ERP has already undergone a pilot phase. The program will
undergo regular evaluation and changes may be made to increase the
ERP's effectiveness as required.
Although the ERP applies to reserve lands, it appears from the
description of the process available on AANDC's web site that
consultation with the First Nation may not be warranted in some
cases. It is difficult to envision a situation where a project on
reserve would not affect the First Nation's use of land. It
will be interesting to see how this process will work in
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