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Bulletin

Regulatory Review of the Environmental Authorization Scheme for Certain Industrial, Agricultural and Wetland Activities

Fasken
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Overview

Environmental bulletin

On April 27, 2022, the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change published three draft regulations, primarily relating to the environmental authorization scheme (the “Draft Regulations”). This publication supplements the many recent changes to the legislative and regulatory framework in Quebec that apply to activities potentially impacting the environment.

These Draft Regulations are currently undergoing a public consultation process until June 11, 2022.

The Draft Regulations provide for the amendment of the following regulations:

  • Regulation respecting the regulatory scheme applying to activities on the basis of their environmental impact (“REAFIE”);
  • Regulation respecting the environmental impact assessment and review of certain projects (“REEIE”);
  • Regulation respecting the reclamation of residual materials (“RVMR”);
  • Regulation respecting activities in wetlands, bodies of water and sensitive areas (“RAMHHS”);
  • Agricultural Operations Regulation (“REA”);
  • Regulation respecting the landfilling and incineration of residual materials (“REIMR”);
  • Regulation respecting hot mix asphalt plants (“RUBB”);
  • Regulation respecting biomedical waste (“RDB”).

This government initiative aims to address the following main issues:

  • Water management; 
  • Storage and reclamation of residual granular materials;
  • Works, construction and other interventions in wetlands and bodies of water.

Proposals for new exemptions from ministerial approval

The Draft Regulations propose amendments to the REAFIE to expand certain exemptions or add new exemptions to cover cases that were not anticipated when it was developed, regarding, for example:

  • Water withdrawals for purposes of building drainage; 
  • Relocation of water mains;
  • Water treatment for temporary activities;
  • Replacement of air purification equipment;
  • Various adjustments related to stormwater management systems;
  • Treatment of organic residue at source;
  • Temporary structures in wetlands and bodies of water.

Other amendments

The amendments proposed to the other regulatory instruments are intended to simplify or clarify the framework for activities that are exempt or eligible for a declaration of compliance, for example:

  • Reduce the sampling frequencies of residual granular materials eligible for an exemption by reducing the number of parameters to be analyzed according to identified risks of contamination;
  • Expand the permitted uses and potential uses of residual granular material, including pipe backfill activities, mixtures of granular material with soils and sludge from concrete surface maintenance;
  • Clarify the application of RAMHHS to certain activities in wetlands or bodies of water exempt from a ministerial authorization or eligible for a declaration of compliance, in particular by excluding the application of this regulation to activities resulting from an order issued under the Environment Quality Act.

Following the consultation period, the Draft Regulations will be published in final form, and amendments to the various regulations will come into force within 15 to 90 days of their enactment.

The amended draft regulations are available for review at the following address (available only in French):

http://www2.publicationsduquebec.gouv.qc.ca/dynamicSearch/telecharge.php?type=13&file=2217-F.PDF

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