Skip To Content

Developing a project – Environmental impact assessments

Things to know

  • Legislative responsibility for the protection of the natural environment is shared by federal, provincial and municipal governments. For example, federal and provincial governments both have environmental assessment legislation and endangered species legislation.
  • Environmental regulations can apply to both greenfield developments and existing industrial operations. For example, the expansion or alteration of an existing facility could trigger a new environmental assessment and new operating permits/approvals.   
  • At the federal level, designated projects (activities listed in the Physical Activities Regulations) are subject to the Impact Assessment Act. Project owners must file an Impact Statement with the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada describing the project; the environmental, health, social and economic conditions in the project area; and all consultation activities undertaken by the project owner. The Impact Assessment Agency of Canada will assess the project impacts and submit recommendations regarding conditions imposed on project construction or operation to either the Minister of the Environment or a review panel.
  • Each province has environmental assessment legislation that typically coordinates with the Impact Assessment Act in order to avoid duplication.  

Things to do

  • For major new projects, determine (based on the proposed project details) whether any federal or provincial environmental assessment is required.
  • Prepare an initial “Material Permits List” to better plan project development, understand any critical path items and initiate contact with applicable regulators.  
  • Communicate directly with the Impact Assessment Agency, if applicable, prior to submitting an Initial Project Description to facilitate development of documentation and a timely and efficient planning phase.
Download topic