Proposed amendments to the Far North Act, 2010

ERO number
019-2684
Notice type
Act
Act
Far North Act, 2010
Posted by
Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry
Notice stage
Decision
Decision posted
Comment period
November 30, 2020 - January 14, 2021 (45 days) Closed
Last updated

This consultation was open from:
November 30, 2020
to January 14, 2021

Decision summary

We have considered all feedback received and are proceeding to enhance certain provisions in the Far North Act, 2010 that encourage collaboration between Ontario and First Nations on land use planning, amend or delete provisions that may hinder economic development, and retain joint land use planning with all First Nations in the Far North.

Decision details

Ontario’s Far North Act

The Far North Act, 2010 came into force on January 31, 2011. The purpose of the Act is to provide for community based land use planning in the Far North that:

  • sets out a joint planning process between the First Nations in the Far North and Ontario
  • supports the environmental, social and economic objectives for land use planning for the peoples of Ontario
  • is done in a manner that is consistent with the recognition and affirmation of existing Aboriginal and Treaty rights in section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982, including the duty to consult

Changes to the Far North Act

On December 9, 2021, the following changes to the Far North Act, 2010 were approved in Schedule 10 to Bill 43, the Build Ontario Act (Budget Measures) 2021. These changes will encourage collaboration between Ontario and First Nations on land use planning and foster economic growth in the Far North while maintaining critical cultural and environmental protections.

  1. Objective 2 in Section 5 was reframed to:
    • remove the reference to the protection of 225,000 square kilometres of the Far North in an interconnected network of protected areas
    • clarify that the designation of protected areas in community-based land use plans is one mechanism to provide protection in the Far North
  2. Section 6 (Contribution of First Nations), was amended to explicitly state that:
    • First Nations may contribute perspectives on sustainable development for the purposes of land use planning.
  3. Section 7 (Joint Body) was amended to remove barriers to the establishment of the Joint Body and to enhance First Nation participation in the Joint Body by:
    • clarifying the role and process for Joint Body establishment, including requiring that the discussions on the establishment of the Joint Body be initiated by at least seven First Nations
    • providing for greater flexibility around levels of representation on the Joint Body and the creation of working groups or subcommittees to help carry out its function
    • clarifying the process for renewal and dissolution of the Joint Body
    • giving the Minister discretion to bring forward for approval by the Lieutenant Governor in Council (LGIC) any proposed policy statement developed by the Joint Body
    • providing for an amendment process for a Far North policy statement to be prescribed
  4. Section 8 was amended to allow discretion regarding whether a Far North Land Use Strategy is prepared
  5. Section 12 (Development if no community based land use plan) was removed:
    • new developments will no longer require a LGIC Order or Minister’s Order under the Far North Act before proceeding in areas that do not have a community-based land use plan
    • proposed developments will still need to obtain any authorizations and approvals that are required under other legislation
  6. Subsection 14(5) (Development if community land use plan – Restriction on making order) was amended to support collaboration between Ontario and First Nations by:
    • extending the minimum timeframe for undertaking an amendment to a community based land use plan from 6 months to 9 months. This will provide more time to work on and agree to an amendment before the LGIC makes an order determining that a development proposal is in the social and economic interests of Ontario.
  7. Revoked two existing regulations and included their content in the Act:
    • Ontario Regulation 3/16 - timeline for making an application under ss. 12(2)​​
    • Ontario Regulation 117/11 - opening a mine with a closure plan​​
  8. Implemented “housekeeping amendments” as necessary, including:
    • updating the names of Ministries cited in the Act
    • clarifying that where matters can be prescribed this would not affect the powers granted by the Act if no regulations have been made
    • updating reference to ‘mining claim staking’ throughout the Act to align with updates made to the Mining Act and the move to online mining claim registration and management

Analysis of Regulatory Impacts

There are no direct compliance costs associated with the amendments. Based on Regulatory Impact Assessment results, the amendments, if approved, are expected to result in cost savings for project proponents who were previously required to seek an exemption or exception order or a Minister’s order under the Far North Act before proceeding with certain developments where a community based land use plan had not been approved. This includes First Nation communities in the Far North who were previously required to seek a Minister’s order under the Far North Act prior to proceeding with certain developments that would contribute to meeting community needs or that were for community use.

Comments received

Through the registry

4

By email

14

By mail

0
View comments submitted through the registry

Effects of consultation

We engaged on a proposal to refocus the Far North Act, 2010 via an Environmental Registry of Ontario posting, in-person/virtual engagement sessions and through bilateral meetings with First Nation communities and organizations. Consultation opportunities included:

  • environmental Registry of Ontario posting - November 30, 2020 to January 14, 2021
  • engagement session in Thunder Bay - February 2020
  • four virtual engagement sessions - November 2020
  • two separate bilateral meetings - Webequie First Nation on November 24, 2020, and Moose Cree First Nation on December 15, 2020
  • proposed changes to facilitate the establishment of the Joint Body were generally supported, pending the details found in drafted amendments
  • a proposed change to provide ministerial discretion around the preparation of a Far North Land Use Strategy was seen as potentially negatively affecting the development of guidance for community based land use planning
  • mixed feedback was received to the changes proposed to the protection objective found in the Act. Some respondents supported the proposed removal of the specific area objective while others voiced support for retaining it
  • mixed feedback was received to the proposed repeal of Section 12. This section prohibited most developments, including opening a mine or building all season roads where there was no community based land use plan in place unless a Minister’s or LGIC Order was issued under the Act. 
  • Additional comments unrelated to the proposed amendments included: 
    • support for the recognition of individually prepared land use plans
    • adequate resourcing to First Nations
    • equitable planning and decision-making processes for the management of lands and resources
    • ongoing opposition to provisions in the Act that provide Ministerial and LGIC discretion

As a result of feedback received, two additional amendments were identified:

  1. Further revision to Objective 2 in Section 5 of the Act to clarify that connectivity of protected areas is not a requirement during the land use planning process.
  2. Further revision to Section 6, recognizing traditional knowledge and perspectives by First Nations shall be considered for the purposes of land use planning under the Act.

Supporting materials

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Some supporting materials may not be available online. If this is the case, you can request to view the materials in person.

Get in touch with the office listed below to find out if materials are available.

Far North Branch - Thunder Bay
Address

421 James Street South
1st Floor
Thunder Bay, ON
P7E 2V6
Canada

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Original proposal

ERO number
019-2684
Notice type
Act
Act
Far North Act, 2010
Posted by
Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry
Proposal posted

Comment period

November 30, 2020 - January 14, 2021 (45 days)

Proposal details

Ontario’s Far North Act

The Far North Act, 2010 came into force on January 31, 2011. The purpose of the Act is to provide for community based land use planning in the Far North that:  

  • sets out a joint planning process between the First Nations and Ontario
  • supports the environmental, social and economic objectives for land use planning for the peoples of Ontario
  • is done in a manner that is consistent with the recognition and affirmation of existing Aboriginal and treaty rights in section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982, including the duty to consult.

Proposed changes to the Far North Act

We are proposing changes to the Far North Act that would, if approved:

  • amend or delete provisions that are perceived as hindering economic development
  • enhance certain provisions that encourage collaboration between Ontario and Far North First Nations on land use planning

The proposed changes include:

  1. Proposed amendments to the following sections of the Act:

To review the proposed amendments to these sections in greater detail, refer to the document attached to the ‘Supporting Materials’ section of this notice.

Section 5 (Objectives for Land Use Planning)

  • We are proposing to remove the reference to the protection of 225,000 square kilometres in one of the planning objectives and replace it with a broader objective to protect areas of cultural value as well as ecological systems including through the designation of interconnected protected areas in community based land use plans. This proposed change is intended to promote economic growth in the Far North by creating a balance between designated protected areas and areas for development.

Section 6 (Contribution of First Nations)

  • We are proposing to add a provision that would include that First Nations may contribute perspectives on sustainable development for the purposes of land use planning. This change would recognize the broad range of knowledge and perspectives held by First Nations and their contributions to joint community based land use planning.

Section 7 (Joint Body)

  • We are proposing amendments that would promote dialogue between First Nations and the Minister about land use planning in the Far North through a joint body. The proposed changes would aim to simplify the process for establishing the joint body, make the joint body more beneficial for First Nations and Ontario, and maintain consistency with the purpose of the Act and the intent of the provision. Proposed amendments to this section also include adding a mechanism for the creation of groups or committees to complete specific tasks, such as recommending new policy for land use planning. These proposed changes are intended to enable, and provide more clarity on, establishing a joint body to encourage greater participation of First Nations in a joint body.

Sub-section 8(1) (Far North land use strategy)

  • We are proposing to amend ‘shall’ to ‘may’ to allow discretion regarding whether a strategy is prepared. This change would provide flexibility to consider other more responsive opportunities for preparing guidance and would not affect the process for creating a strategy including engagement or consultation.

Section 12 (Development if no community land use plan)

  • We are proposing to delete this section. This change would mean that new developments would no longer require a Lieutenant Governor in Council (LGIC) Order or Minister’s Order under the Far North Act before proceeding in areas that do not have a community based land use plan. Proposed developments would still need to obtain any authorizations and approvals that are required under other legislation. This proposed change would support economic growth in the Far North by removing restrictions on development where no land use plan is in place. ​

Sub-section 14(5) (Development if community land use plan – Restriction on making order)

  • The Act allows the LGIC to determine that a proposal that is inconsistent with an approved land use plan is in the social and economic interests of Ontario and may proceed. Before the LGIC may make such an order, the Minister must first propose to amend the approved land use plan to permit the proposal. Should agreement to the amendment not be reached within six months, the LGIC may issue an order allowing the proposal to proceed.
  • We are proposing to extend the minimum timeframe for undertaking an amendment from 6 months to 9 months. This proposed change would  provide more time for the required parties to work on and agree to the amendment before the LGIC make an order.
  1. Proposed revoking of existing regulations and proposed amendments to include content in the Act

The Far North Act currently has 3 regulations that lay out the following: ​​

  • timeline for making an application under ss. 12(2)​​
  • opening a mine with a closure plan​​
  • description of the Far North​

We are proposing to revoke the regulations and incorporate content into the body of the Act where appropriate. This change would streamline and simplify the legislation.

  1. Proposed renaming the Far North Act to better reflect local, Indigenous, and provincial priorities

The proposed changes would:

  • promote economic growth in the Far North by working with First Nations to determine the appropriate balance between areas designated for protection or development, and the appropriate spatial layout of those areas
  • improve Ontario’s competitiveness in the natural resource sector while maintaining critical cultural and environmental protections
  • provide more clarity regarding how to establish a Joint Body and encourage greater collaboration between First Nations and Ontario
  • support economic growth in the Far North by removing restrictions on development where no land use plan is in place
  • recognize the broad range of knowledge and perspectives held by First Nations and the contributions that they make to joint community based land use planning
  • streamline and simplify the legislation

Comment

Commenting is now closed.

This consultation was open from November 30, 2020
to January 14, 2021

Connect with us

Contact

Amy Smart

Office
Far North Branch - Thunder Bay
Address

421 James Street South
1st Floor
Thunder Bay, ON
P7E 2V6
Canada