Proposal to exempt projects or activities related to land claim settlements and other agreements with Indigenous communities about land from the Environmental Assessment Act

ERO number
019-1805
Notice type
Regulation
Act
Environmental Assessment Act, R.S.O. 1990
Posted by
Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks
Notice stage
Decision Updated
Decision posted
Comment period
July 8, 2020 - August 22, 2020 (45 days) Closed
Last updated

Update Announcement

This notice was updated on July 9, 2021 to include a link to the final regulation. Please see the ‘related links’ section of the notice.

July 9, 2021

This consultation was open from:
July 8, 2020
to August 22, 2020

Decision summary

We are improving the processes associated with land claim settlement and other agreements with Indigenous communities about land by removing duplication between the Environmental Assessment Act requirements and the Ministry of Indigenous Affairs’ current policies and guidelines.

Decision details

Ontario’s Environmental Assessment Program

Ontario is updating the almost 50-year-old Environmental Assessment (EA) program to support building safer and stronger communities, while maintaining environmental protection.

Ontario’s EA program is an important process that supports healthier communities and economic prosperity through strict environmental rules and requirements for businesses. However, over the past 50 years, there have been minimal updates to the program since the Environmental Assessment Act (EAA) was first enacted, and it does not recognize the implementation of other environmental legislation and protections put in place by Ontario.

That’s why, over the past two years, the government has been working to build a strong EA program that considers the input of local communities and focuses on projects that have the highest impact to the environment. As part of this plan, we are developing sensible, practical changes that would ensure strong environmental oversight while reducing delays on projects that matter most to Ontario communities.

By eliminating duplication and improving processes, Ontario is better able to put people first and at the center of all government decision-making while ensuring care is taken when considering the impacts on the environment.

Changes to Regulation 334 under the Environmental Assessment Act

As part of the EA modernization efforts, we are exempting by regulation the following projects or activities from the Environmental Assessment Act (EAA):

  • projects or activities related to land claim settlement agreements; and,
  • certain projects or activities that implement other agreements about land involving Indigenous communities and the Crown as represented by the Minister of Indigenous Affairs (other land agreements) (e.g. disposition or transfer of land).

These types of projects or activities typically do not impact the current use of a property and have low-impact on the environment.

The previous framework under the EAA involved assessment under potentially multiple class environmental assessments (Class EA), with different proponents, and potentially repeats work completed under the IAO’s processes.

The Ministry of Indigenous Affairs (IAO) is responsible for managing land claim negotiations, settlements or agreements with Indigenous communities on behalf of the province. IAO has existing processes that can provide:

  • the appropriate level of assessment
  • enable the Crown to fulfill its duty to consult
  • opportunities for stakeholder, public and government agency consultation and input

As such, it is not necessary to undertake additional evaluation through one or more Class EA processes under the EAA.

The changes would eliminate duplication between the EAA requirements and IAO’s processes which would:

  • result in a single process for assessment and consultation
  • ensure stakeholders have one-window for consultation and issues resolution
  • eliminate duplication
  • shorten timelines
  • reduce overall cost of settling Indigenous land claims

The exemption will not apply to the following projects or activities:

  • those that are subject to the Algonquin Land Claim Declaration Order; and
  • those for which public notice has already been given under a Class EA or order under the EAA.

Comments received

Through the registry

7

By email

14

By mail

0
View comments submitted through the registry

Effects of consultation

We received a total of 21 comments: 7 comments through the Registry posting; and, 14 direct emails and verbal comments.

We also held:

  • information webinars and meetings with other stakeholders and Indigenous communities informing them of the ministry’s EA initiatives, including this proposed exemption regulation
  • meetings to discuss any questions and issues

Comments raised were a mix of support for the exemption and concerns about:

  • public access to water
  • future development
  • cultural heritage
  • reliance on IAO’s process for consultation and assessment of potential impacts, without a Class EA process

Some comments received on the Registry posting were not related to the proposal.

We have reviewed all of the submissions and have concluded that:

  • IAO’s processes are adequate for addressing impacts from projects or activities related to land claim settlement agreements and other land agreements, including cultural heritage impacts
  • IAO’s processes include adequate opportunities for consultation with the public, stakeholders, agencies and Indigenous communities
  • it is not necessary to repeat work already completed through these processes

In addition, the Crown will continue to assess impacts of proposed government decisions or actions respecting land claim settlement agreements and other land agreements on constitutionally protected Aboriginal or treaty rights. The exemption does not impact the Crown’s ability to carry out any duty to consult obligations related to these agreements.

Also, projects or activities related to land claim settlements and other agreements about land do not impact public access to water and do not include future development of transferred land.

Supporting materials

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Original proposal

ERO number
019-1805
Notice type
Regulation
Act
Environmental Assessment Act, R.S.O. 1990
Posted by
Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks
Proposal posted

Comment period

July 8, 2020 - August 22, 2020 (45 days)

Proposal details

Environmental assessment modernization

Ontario is updating its almost 50-year-old environmental assessment (EA) program to support building safer and stronger communities. In our Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan, we committed to supporting environmental planning by addressing duplication, and improving processes and service standards to reduce delays.

We are committed to building a strong EA program that considers the input of local communities and focuses on projects that have the highest impact to the environment.

Proposed changes

Currently under the Environmental Assessment Act (EAA), these projects or activities, as a result of the Ministry of Indigenous Affairs’ (IAO) settlements or agreements, may be undertaken by several proponent ministries (e.g. Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, Ministry of Energy, Northern Development and Mines and Ministry of Government and Consumer Services) with requirements under various class environmental assessments.

These types of projects or activities related to land claim settlements typically do not impact the current use of a property and have low-impact on the environment.

IAO has existing land settlement or agreement processes that can provide:

  • a mechanism to address the evaluation and consultation for these projects and activities with government agencies and the public
  • an opportunity to fulfill the Crown’s duty to consult

As such, it is not necessary to undertake additional consultation or evaluation under the EAA. The proposed changes would:

  • result in a single process for evaluation and consultation
  • ensure stakeholders have one-window for consultation and issues resolution
  • eliminate duplication
  • shorten timelines
  • reduce overall cost of settling Indigenous land claims

The proposed exemption would apply to projects or activities resulting from a land claim settlement, or other agreement between Ontario, an Indigenous community and typically Canada regarding land or an interest in land. This includes, but is not be limited to:

  • the disposition, release or transfer of land, interests in land or related interests in Crown resources
  • the acquisition or acceptance of land or interests in land
  • activities carried out in advance of or to prepare lands for disposition or transfer, including allowing interim uses of lands or related Crown resources by the Indigenous community

Implementation and timelines

If the proposed exemption is approved, there would no longer be any requirements for these projects or activities under various class environmental assessments under the EAA.

If any of these types of projects or activities are subject to a declaration order at the time the regulation comes into force, they would not be affected by the regulation.

Other information

An Indigenous land claim is a formal submission of an Indigenous community stating that it has legal entitlement in respect of land. For additional information regarding Indigenous land claims, please see the link below.

Burden reduction

There are no direct compliance costs or new administrative burdens associated with the proposed regulatory amendments for this proposal, as there are existing processes to address the requirements of the EAA. There are also other applicable provincial and federal approvals and permits that would still be required.

Comment

Commenting is now closed.

This consultation was open from July 8, 2020
to August 22, 2020

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