On September 5, 2019, Canada’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change and British Columbia’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy announced they have signed an Impact Assessment Cooperation Agreement (the “Cooperation Agreement”). The Cooperation Agreement provides a framework for cooperation between Canada and British Columbia on environmental assessments under the new federal Impact Assessment Act (“IAA”) and British Columbia’s new Environmental Assessment Act (“BCEAA”) and is intended to implement the principle of ‘one project, one assessment’.
The Cooperation Agreement updates existing agreements to provide for cooperation under the new federal and provincial legislation. The IAA came into force on August 28, 2019. For more information, see our bulletin on The New Federal Impact Assessment Act. The Cooperation Agreement will not, however, take effect until the BCEAA also comes into force, which is expected to be late 2019. Until the BCEAA comes into force, the federal Impact Assessment Agency (the “Agency”) and British Columbia’s Environmental Assessment Office (“EAO”) have agreed to cooperate in the spirit of the Cooperation Agreement.
The Cooperation Agreement provides for cooperation before, during, and after the environmental assessment process for projects that trigger both federal and provincial assessments under the IAA and BCEAA, respectively. This includes the following:
- The Agency and EAO agree to provide early notification to one another and to establish a joint process, enable coordinated engagement, facilitate common requirements for documents and facilitate joint issuance of documents.
- During the assessment, cooperation could be in the form of substitution, coordinated impact assessments or joint review panels. The Agency and EAO agree to jointly review potential conditions for the IAA decision statement and BCEAA certificate.
- The Agency and EAO also agree to coordinate post-decision activities, including follow-up, compliance verification, enforcement activities and consideration of project changes or amendments.
- Throughout the process, the Agency and EAO will work together to cooperate and collaborate with Indigenous peoples.
The full Cooperation Agreement can be found on the Government of Canada’s website at the following link.