Feb 9, 2018
On February 8, 2018, federal Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna introduced Bill C-69, the proposed Impact Assessment Act (IAA). As Cristin Schmitz explains in an article in The Lawyer’s Daily, this new legislation represents a major overhaul of the environmental review and regulation processes at the federal level and aims to make them faster and more predictable, in part by reducing the legislated timelines. However, Schmitz canvasses a number of environmental law experts who suggest this aim is unlikely to be achieved. Schmitz consults Martin Ignasiak, a partner in Osler’s Calgary office and national Co-Chair of the firm’s Regulatory, Environmental Aboriginal and Land Group, who is skeptical that the proposed law will result in quicker or cheaper assessments for projects.
“[T]here is nothing in these legislative proposals that suggests future assessments [of designated projects] will be in any way streamlined, more efficient, or more effective,” he says.
“The timelines in the IAA are very long and can be extended by the [Environment and Climate Change] minister and by the cabinet repeatedly,” Martin continues. “In addition, the minister can, through regulation, set out activities that result in the timelines being suspended. I suspect that, as is currently the case, the clock will stop running when the agency or panel is waiting for information from the proponent. In addition, even under the current Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012 we have seen situations where information is requested from the proponent in batches so as to minimize the amount the time limits run down. Before time limits were imposed, we rarely saw this occur. Therefore, these legislated time limits are no guarantee of more timely review.”
If you subscribe to The Lawyer’s Daily online, you can learn more about these proposed changes by reading the full article “Bill C-69 aims to expand and speed federal reviews but lawyers doubt process will be faster or cheaper” by Cristin Schmitz in the February 9, 2018 edition.