Filing Manual – Guide A – Facilities Applications

Table of Contents

A.2 – Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment

A.2.1 Introduction

S. A.2 describes the CER’s environmental and socio-economic assessment responsibilities and process and outlines the information required in a complete application. Additional filing requirements may exist for applications to other regulatorsFootnote 3. S. A.2 consists of two broad parts.

SS. A.2.2 to A.2.4 will assist an applicant in understanding how a project is evaluated and how an applicant should provide information.

A.2.2 – The CER’s Approach to Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment;

A.2.3 – Scope of an Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment; and

A.2.4 – Level of Detail.

The applicant should carefully review the information in ss. A.2.2 through A.2.4 to understand the requirements outlined in the sections that follow.

The second part, ss. A.2.5 to A.2.8 describes the information applicants should include in a project-specific Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment (ESA):

A.2.5 – Description of the Environmental and Socio-economic Setting;

A.2.6 – Effects Assessment;

A.2.7 – Cumulative Effects Assessment; and

A.2.8 – Inspection, Monitoring and Follow-up.

In addition to the description of the project (discussed in s. 4.1 of this Manual), the applicant should describe:

  • the environmental and socio-economic baseline setting;
  • the predicted beneficial and adverse effects of the proposed project on the socio-economic and biophysical environment over the life of the project;
  • the methods used for effects analysis, and the rationale for selecting the methods chosen;
  • the proposed mitigation measures; and
  • the predicted significance of residual project effects and residual cumulative effects.

Figure A2-1: The Applicant’s ESA process

Figure 1: The Applicant’s ESA process

The level of detail the CER requires in an application will vary with:

  • the nature and scale of the project;
  • the predicted effects of the project; and
  • the level of public interest in the project.

The applicant must provide a defensible line of reasoning, supported by facts, to support the analysis and conclusions on identified issues and the environmental and socio-economic effects of the project.

Table A-1 in s. A.2.4 identifies circumstances that trigger the need for detailed information to be filed on specific biophysical or socio-economic components and considers all phases of an applied for project (construction, operation, maintenance and abandonment), including the potential for accidents and malfunctions during each phase. Table A-2 and Table A-3, which follow s. A.2.7, identify those specific information requirements.

FYI – Additional information...

For non-hearing CER Act s. 214 applications, the CER has an on-line application system (OAS) through which applicants can build and file their applications. Regardless of whether the OAS criteria are met, applicants should still refer to the guidance set out in the filing manual. In all cases applicants must submit a completed Environmental and Socio-economic Interactions Table with their OAS application. If one or more of the OAS criteria cannot be met, the system guides the applicant back to the appropriate section of the filing manual to show the filing requirements necessary for a particular application. Generally, less complex projects will require less information to be filed, and more complex projects will result in larger and more complex applications. While a proponent’s full ESA is not required to be filed for applications using the OAS, it must still be prepared and may be requested at any time. It may be helpful to include the ESA for applications where there are multiple or complex issues, or to provide clarity and efficiency in the review of an application.

A.2.2 The CER’s Approach to Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment

The Commission has a broad mandate under the CER Act and it may consider matters that appear to the Commission to be directly related to the pipeline and relevant to its decisions or recommendations. The Commission is responsible for assessing the environmental and socio-economic effects of energy projects within its jurisdiction, such as international and interprovincial pipelines in Canada, certain natural gas processing plants, and related facilities and activitiesFootnote 4. The Commission’s environmental and socio-economic assessment responsibilities cover four distinct phases:

  • evaluating potential effects of constructing and operating proposed projects;
  • monitoring and enforcing terms and conditions before, during and after construction;
  • monitoring and regulating ongoing operations, including decommissioning; and
  • evaluating potential effects of abandonment.

The Commission’s objectives for environmental and socio-economic assessment are that:

  • the potential effects of projects receive thorough consideration before any decisions on the project are made allowing a project to proceed;
  • projects are not likely to cause significant adverse effects or contribute to significant adverse cumulative effects;
  • there is an opportunity for meaningful public participation and the participation of Indigenous peoples; and
  • the Commission’s process and its decisions or recommendations are transparent and reflect the input received from those participating in the environmental assessment and regulatory review process.

A.2.3 Scope of the Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment

What is Scoping?

Appropriate scoping is the foundation upon which an effective environmental and socio-economic assessment is built. The scope ensures that the assessment focuses on relevant issues and concerns, and assists in determining the appropriate level of detail to include in the assessment. Proper scoping reduces the risk of including unimportant or irrelevant information in the assessment or excluding factors that should be assessed. Scoping is the process of identifying:

  • the physical facilities and activities to include within the ESA; and
  • what biophysical and socio-economic elements are likely to be affected.

FYI – See also...

Scoping information for cumulative effects assessment is provided in section A.2.7.

The Applicant’s Role in Scoping

The applicant’s role in scoping includes:

  • providing sufficient information for the Commission to fully understand the nature of the project it is to assess;
  • ensuring the applicant’s ESA focuses on relevant issues and concerns, including those identified by affected parties, and that an appropriate level of detail is included in the ESA; and
  • considering the factors set out in s. 183 of the CER Act. The CER expects a complete ESA from an applicant.

To assist an applicant in scoping before filing an application, the CER encourages the applicant to:

  • request a meeting with CER staff to discuss process-related matters and be guided to examples of complete ESAs filed previously with the CER (see Chapter 1, s. 1.7 – Pre-Application Meetings Guidance Notes);
  • consult any relevant Impact Assessment Agency of Canada (IAAC) guidance documents and, if appropriate, discuss scoping any other relevant federal authorities (see Table 3-1 for potential considerations and contacts); and
  • where appropriate, consult with other regulatory bodies at the provincial, territorial, regional, municipal or Indigenous levels of government.

An application must clearly identify, describe and substantiate:

  • the scope of the applied for project;
  • other physical facilities and activities necessary to enable the project to proceed, including directly-related ancillary facilities, such as access roads including temporary and permanent bridge crossings, construction camps, or pipe lay-up and storage areas, marine terminals and loading facilities; and
  • other physical facilities and activities likely to occur if the applied for project is approved and proceeds, which may include power lines or upstream and downstream petroleum development activities and works directly related to the proposed project.

Scope of the assessment and the CER

The scope of the project includes the physical facilities and activities making up the project and enabling it to proceed as applied for by the proponent. It may also include other physical facilities and activities that would be undertaken if the applied for project is approved and proceeds.

The Commission determines the scope of the project by considering relevant case law, IAAC guidance and any other relevant commentary.

The Commission will review and assess the scope of the ESA based on the evidence before it. Although elements of the project or the scope of factors to be considered may change over the course of a proceeding (e.g., as a result of input from the public or Indigenous peoples, or changes to the project), the application is usually the prime source of information and starting point for establishing what the Commission will consider in the environmental assessment of a project.

For projects subject to a public hearing, the Commission will release a List of Issues that sets out the issues it will consider in the hearing. Within the List of Issues, environmental matters are usually identified at a sufficiently broad level that all relevant environmental effects may be considered. It is important to note the requirements within this Filing Manual amount to a standing scoping document in lieu of the CER preparing a project-specific scoping document for every project.

FYI – Reminder...

The requirements contained within this Filing Manual are essentially a generic scope of the assessment document applicable to any facility project. The description of the project within the proponent’s application sets out the scope of the project. If the information submitted is not sufficient for the Commission to be clear on scope, the Commission will request more information, which could lengthen the assessment process.

Guidance – Scope of the Project

In evaluating whether to include other physical facilities and activities directly related to the proposed project, but which may be outside of the CER’s regulatory jurisdiction, the Commission may consider factors such as:

  • is the physical facility or activity within the control of the applicant for the primary project being applied for under the CER Act?
  • are mitigation measures and follow-up activities enforceable by the CER, another federal or provincial department or agency, or person or body that will ensure implementation?
  • are effects from the other physical facilities and activities relevant to the Commission’s decision or recommendation under the CER Act?

Impact Assessment Act Designated Physical Activities

Physical activities regulated by the CER and designated by the Physical Activities Regulations, are subject to the IA Act, and the IAAC will conduct an integrated impact assessment with support from the CER. Subsection 22(1) of the IA Act sets out the factors to be considered by a review panel in an impact assessment of a designated project.

A.2.4 Level of Detail

The nature of the project, together with the environmental and socio-economic setting, establish the extent of interactions between the project and the environment. Those interactions form the basis on which effects are predicted, and for understanding the appropriate level of detail needed about the setting, interactions, and predicted effects. The extent of public interest may also guide the applicant in determining the level of detail necessary.

Where the project may impact Indigenous communities and affect the use of traditional territory or potential or established treaty or Indigenous rights, applicants must identify the potentially-affected Indigenous peoples and carry out effective engagement with them to determine their views and concerns. If there are potential impacts, applicants must file information about the Indigenous communities affected, the concerns they have raised, how the applicant will address the concerns and identify any outstanding concerns. The level of detail provided should reflect the nature and extent of the impacts, the nature of the rights or interests affected and the degree of concern expressed by Indigenous peoples.

Applicants must apply gender-based analysis plus (GBA+) to identify the potential for the project to impact diverse groups of people, including groups identified by gender, in different ways, and to design engagement processes to facilitate the effective involvement of such groups. If there are potential impacts, applicants must file information about how such groups were identified, the engagement methods employed to facilitate their involvement, as well as the concerns raised and how they will be addressed. The amount of detail and depth of all information should be commensurate with the scale and scope of the project, including its potential effects, and the degree of concern expressed. Projects that are smaller in scale, or have the potential for limited, low magnitude effects may not require highly detailed information.

The information provided by an applicant in its ESA must be of sufficient detail to allow the Commission to:

  • identify the spatial and temporal extent of interactions between the project and the biophysical and human environments;
  • identify the potential effects of the project;
  • identify the potential for the environment to affect the project; and
  • determine the significance of those effects.

FYI – Example...

As an example, a project crossing a small and ephemeral watercourse, during the dry period, with no activities or physical works within a fisheries-sensitive zone would likely require less detail on effects on fish and fish habitat than a project requiring in-stream construction work in a fish-bearing watercourse during spawning periods.

The applicant must clearly rationalize the level of detail provided. This is typically reflected through the following:

  • Description of the project: information describing how the project would cross the watercourse, and whether any physical works or construction would be required in or immediately adjacent to the watercourse and, if so, what these could be and how they might take place;
  • Environmental setting: information on the nature of the watercourse, shores, riparian zones, erosive features, its fisheries and fish habitat potential;
  • Interactions: information describing the proposed timing of construction, the spatial extent of interactions, any loss of riparian or fish habitat, and extent of any potential release of a deleterious substance into the watercourse;
  • Predicted effects: information on any direct and indirect effects on water quality, habitat, fish and on which life including if the project may result in a harm to fish or fish habitat, or any effects on other wildlife; and
  • Results of engagement with other regulators: information detailing the results of any engagement with Fisheries and Oceans Canada should an aquatic species under SARA or its critical habitat be present; and the measures that will be taken to ensure compliance.

The ESA must include both quantitative and qualitative information. Applicants must consider the extent to which detailed maps, survey and trend data, or diagrams or figures relating to specific areas of biophysical or socio-economic elements of interest or concern may enhance the assessment. The number and nature of biophysical and socio-economic elements considered within an ESA, and the supporting level of detail necessary, will vary depending on the setting and issues raised about the project.

Table A-1 below provides examples of the range of circumstances that may lead to the need for detailed information and considers all phases of an applied for project (construction, operation, maintenance and abandonment), including the potential for accidents and malfunctions during each phase. Where circumstances described in Table A-1 exist, Table A-2 and Table A-3 describe the specific details to include in the assessment.

Table A-1: Circumstances and Interactions Requiring Detailed Biophysical and Socio-economic Information

Table A-1: Circumstances and Interactions Requiring Detailed Biophysical and Socio-economic Information

Biophysical and Socio-economic Elements

Circumstances and Interactions Requiring Detailed Information (considering all phases of the project including potential accidents and malfunctions during each phase)

Physical and meteorological environment

  • The project may affect the morphology of unique physical features (such as physiography, bedrock, permafrost, topography, geology or other local conditions).
  • The project may be affected by local or regional physical features, meteorological conditions or extremes, or other natural hazards.
  • There is outstanding concern about this element of the project, which has not been resolved through engagement.

Soil and soil productivity

  • Any portion of the project would be located outside a previously-developed fenced or gravelled facility site.
  • Any portion of the project would be underground.
  • The project may result in a reduction in soil productivity or integrity.
  • Historical land use suggests soils or sediments may contain contaminants or the project may result in the contamination of soils.
  • There is outstanding concern about this element of the project, which has not been resolved through engagement.

Vegetation

  • Any portion of the project would be located outside a previously-developed fenced or gravelled facility site.
  • Any portion of the project would cross through an area that may require ongoing vegetation control.
  • The project may result in the proliferation of invasive species.
  • The project may result in the damage or destruction of vegetative communities.
  • The project may affect vegetation of specific concern to an Indigenous community.
  • There is outstanding concern about this element of the project, which has not been resolved through engagement.

Water quality and quantity

  • The project would be within 30 m of a water body.
  • The project may reduce the quality or quantity of water.
  • The project would involve the likely release or leaching of a polluting substance into a water body or groundwater.
  • The project may result in a change in groundwater flows.
  • The project may result in the inter-basin transfer of water.
  • The project may affect a water body of specific concern to an Indigenous community.
  • There is outstanding concern about this element of the project, which has not been resolved through engagement.

Fish and fish habitat

  • The project is within 30 m of a fish-bearing water body or its tributaries.
  • The project may result in the deposit of a polluting or harmful (deleterious)substance into a water body.
  • The project may result in an impact to fish and fish habitat
  • The project may affect fish or fish habitat of specific concern to an Indigenous community.
  • There is outstanding concern about this element of the project, which has not been resolved through engagement.

Wetlands

  • The project would include physical facilities or activities within 30 m of a wetland.
  • The project would include activities or physical facilities within regionally, provincially, territorially or federally-established limits of a wetland with provincial, regional, territorial or federal status.
  • The project may result in loss of wetland functions.
  • The project may affect wetlands of specific concern to an Indigenous community.
  • There is outstanding concern about this element of the project, which has not been resolved through engagement.

Wildlife and wildlife habitat

  • The project would be located on or near lands that may constitute sensitive habitat for wildlife (e.g., nesting, denning, overwintering, migratory/staging, movement corridors, forest interior habitat, mineral licks).
  • The project would be located on or near an area of environmental significance or of natural or scientific Interest such as a National Park, a Migratory Bird Sanctuary, a National Wildlife Area, an Important Bird Area, a World Biosphere Reserve or a designated Environmentally-Sensitive Area.
  • The project may create new human access opportunities to important wildlife habitat.
  • The project may result in a loss or change to wildlife habitat function (e.g., nesting, foraging, migration)
  • The project may result in increased mortality or disturbance of wildlife.
  • The project may affect wildlife of specific concern to an Indigenous community.
  • There is outstanding concern about this element of the project, which has not been resolved through engagement.

Species at risk or species of special status and related habitat

  • The study area includes lands within the identified range of a species at risk or a species of special status, and includes habitat that could support these species.
  • There is outstanding concern about this element of the project, which has not been resolved through engagement.

Air emissions

  • There may be increased air emissions from operating or maintaining the project.
  • There is outstanding concern about this element of the project, which has not been resolved through engagement.

Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and climate change

The CER Act requires, for applications for certain projects, that the Commission take into account a number of specified factors to consider including:

  • “The extent to which the effects of the project/pipeline hinder or contribute to the Government of Canada’s ability to meet its environmental obligations and its commitments in respect of climate change.”

This requirement expressly applies to pipelines [s. 183(2)(j)], certificates for power lines [s. 262(2)(f)], and authorizations for offshore renewable energy projects or offshore power lines [s. 298(3)(f)].

This factor consists of two separate considerations: climate change commitments and environmental obligations. This section addresses the climate change commitments, while environmental obligations are addressed below.

Acoustic environment

  • The project may result in increased noise levels during construction, operation or maintenance (e.g., blasting or noise from construction traffic).
  • There is outstanding concern about this element of the project, which has not been resolved through engagement.

Human occupancy and resource use

  • The project will not be located entirely within a previously-developed facility site, on company owned land zoned for industrial purposes.
  • There is outstanding concern about this element of the project, which has not been resolved through engagement.

Heritage resources

  • The project would include clearing of vegetation, grading, trenching, excavating or drilling.
  • The project would create new human access opportunities to areas with heritage resources or heritage resource potential.
  • There is outstanding concern about this element of the project, which has not been resolved through engagement.

Navigation and navigation safety

  • The project includes activities to be conducted or components to be located in, on, over, under, through or across a navigable waterway when the water is flowing (i.e., not seasonally dry or frozen)
  • There is outstanding concern about this element of the project, which has not been resolved through engagement.

Traditional land and resource use

  • The project would be located on, or traverse, Crown land or the traditional territory, lands in a reserve within the meaning of subsection 2(1) of the Indian Act or settlement area of an Indigenous community.
  • The project may adversely affect the current use of lands and resources by Indigenous people.
  • There is outstanding concern about this element of the project, which has not been resolved through engagement.

Social and cultural well-being

  • The project may affect the social and cultural well-being of Indigenous peoples, local residents or communities.
  • There is outstanding concern about this element of the project, which has not been resolved through engagement.

Human health and aesthetics

  • The project may affect local or regional water quality and quantity, or air quality.
  • The project may change the existing environmental setting related to odours, visual aesthetics (beauty) or other sensory conditions.
  • There is outstanding concern about this element of the project, which has not been resolved through engagement.

Infrastructure and services

  • The project may cause temporary or permanent damage, or require additions, modifications or repairs, to local or regional infrastructure.
  • The project may result in increased demands on local and regional services.
  • The project may affect the usage of roadways during construction and operation.
  • There is outstanding concern about this element of the project, which has not been resolved through engagement.

Employment and economy

  • The project may affect local and regional employment, procurement (ordering) and contracting conditions or government revenues.
  • There is outstanding concern about this element of the project, which has not been resolved through engagement.

Environmental Obligations

The CER Act requires, for applications for certain projects that the Commission take into account a number of specified factors to consider. Among the factors to consider are:

  • “The extent to which the effects of the project/pipeline hinder or contribute to the Government of Canada’s ability to meet its environmental obligations and its commitments in respect of climate change.”

This requirement applies to, pipelines [s. 183(2)(j)], certificates for power lines [s. 262(2)(f)], and authorizations for offshore renewable energy projects or offshore power lines [s. 298(3)(f)].

This factor consists of two separate considerations: climate change commitments and environmental obligations. This section addresses environmental obligations, while climate change commitments are addressed above.

NOTE – This section of the CER Act is consistent with s. 22(1)(i) of the IA Act. The IAAC has developed guidance related to the assessment of Canada’s environmental obligations. Any future iterations of that guidance may influence future filing requirements for CER Act project applications.

Rights of Indigenous Peoples

The CER Act requires, for applications for certain projects, that the Commission take into account all considerations that appear to it to be relevant and directly related to the project, including a number of specified factors to consider. Among the factors to consider are:

“The effects on the rights of the Indigenous peoples of Canada recognized and affirmed by section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982.”

This requirement applies to pipelines [s. 183(2)(e)], certificates for power lines [s. 262(2)(e)], and authorizations for offshore renewable energy projects or offshore power lines [s. 298(3)(e)].

NOTE – The CER is aware that the IAAC is developing guidance documents that will include guidance related to the assessment of effects on the rights of Indigenous peoples. That guidance may influence future filing requirements for CER Act project applications and assessment by the Commission.

A.2.5 Description of the Environmental and Socio-economic Setting

A description of the existing environmental and socio-economic setting within the study area (also known as “baseline information”) is necessary to predict the effects of a proposed project. This baseline information provides a backdrop against which a project’s effects are assessed, including the cumulative effects of a project. The applicant is not expected to provide extensive descriptions of features of the environment or socio-economic components that would clearly not be impacted by a proposed project.

Goal

The application describes the biophysical and socio-economic setting with sufficient detail to:

  • identify the elements of importance in the area;
  • identify project-environment interactions;
  • identify, predict and determine the significance of effects of the project;
  • identify and predict the effects of the environment on the project; and
  • formulate appropriate mitigation measures and monitoring programs.

Filing Requirements

1. Identify and describe the current biophysical and socio-economic setting of each element (i.e., baseline information) in the area where the project is to be carried out. Include a map at an appropriate scale and describe:

  • the study area(s), and how the study area(s) were established;
  • the ecological land classification and key terrain features, such as mountains, rivers, lakes and other important features;
  • the locations of any nearby communities and residences (permanent and temporary) and significant landmarks;
  • current local economy and trends;
  • current land and resource uses, including traditional land and resource uses;
  • the potential to encounter heritage resources;
  • the areas of physical and environmental constraints (e.g., biophysical, land use or natural resource use);
  • navigable waters that may be affected by project components (e.g., temporary and permanent bridges, marine terminals and loading facilities;
  • consistency between the project and any regional land use plans;
  • any environmentally-sensitive areas, sensitive habitats or areas of special concern (e.g., existing and candidate protected areas), including those identified through engagement with the public or Indigenous peoples, which influence facility routing or site locations;
  • the locations of all proposed facilities; and
  • a list of projects and/or activities in the project area.

FYI – Additional information...

Where the current state of the environment has been significantly altered from the past, the applicant must first describe how far back in time past activities are relevant and then also describe the past activities or past state of the environment. This may be particularly relevant for assessing cumulative effects or identifying a baseline for reclamation goals (e.g., for restoring native vegetation).

2. Describe which biophysical or socio-economic elements in the study area are of ecological, economic or human importance and require more detailed analysis taking into account the results of engagement (see Table A-1 for examples). Where circumstances require more detailed information in an ESA, see:

  1. Table A-2 – Filing Requirements for Biophysical Elements; or
  2. Table A-3 – Filing Requirements for Socio-economic Elements.

3. Provide supporting evidence (e.g., references to scientific literature, field studies, local and Indigenous knowledge, previous environmental assessment and monitoring reports) for:

  • information and data collected;
  • analysis completed;
  • conclusions reached; and
  • the extent of professional judgment or experience relied upon in meeting these information requirements, and the rationale for that extent of reliance.

4. Describe and substantiate the methods used for any surveys, such as those pertaining to wildlife, fisheries, plants, species at risk or species of special status, soils, heritage resources or traditional land use, and for establishing the baseline setting for the atmospheric and acoustic environment. If the season for a particular survey was not optimal, discuss the limitations of survey results or indicate when and how additional surveys will be conducted.

5. Applicants must consult with other expert federal, provincial or territorial departments and other relevant authorities on requirements for baseline information and methods.

Guidance

Study Area

The study area(s) must be of sufficient size to encompass the spatial boundaries of the project and any related physical facilities or activities (e.g., compressors, pump and meter stations, storage facilities, access roads).The study area must also be of sufficient size and orientation to encompass all areas where valued components may be affected by the project, for example:

  • areas downstream and immediately upstream;
  • areas downwind;
  • areas in which the project may be within the range of vision;
  • species’ home ranges and migratory patterns;
  • the emergency planning zone;
  • affected communities and known or asserted areas of Indigenous traditional land and resource use; and
  • areas in which infrastructure is affected or new or enhanced infrastructure would be needed.

Typically, the study area encompassing the above-noted areas extends beyond a narrow corridor or project site. S. A.2.7 provides additional guidance on the study area for a cumulative effects assessment.

Source of Baseline Information

Baseline information must include both scientific information and local and Indigenous knowledge.

Information sources and data collection methods used for describing the baseline environmental and socio-economic setting may consist of:

  • field studies, including site-specific survey methods;
  • database searches, including federal, provincial, territorial and local data banks;
  • sailing directions, recreational waterway guides, etc;
  • field measurements to gather data on ambient or background levels for air quality or acoustic environment;
  • remote sensing information;
  • literature reviews;
  • literature produced by government agencies and academic institutions;
  • renewable resource harvest data;
  • expert, community and Indigenous knowledge interviews (e.g., with regulatory agencies, Indigenous peoples, community and nature conservation groups, local outfitters and recreational organizations including navigation user groups, as well as with local residents, landowners and land users); and
  • statistical surveys, as applicable.

The validity and accuracy of baseline information used in the ESA must be supported by:

  • describing and substantiating the sampling, survey and research protocols or techniques followed for each information source or data collection method used;
  • indicating that proper record-keeping practices have been implemented to maintain survey results for future reference, including measures to respect confidentiality of sensitive information contained in Indigenous traditional land and resource use studies; and
  • wherever appropriate, quantifying and analyzing any statistical survey data obtained.

FYI – See also...

Additional guidance on baseline information for a cumulative effects assessment is provided in section A.2.7.

Identifying Need for Detailed Biophysical and Socio-economic Information

Additional biophysical and socio-economic information must be included with the application if there is evidence of public concern, or if any of the circumstances identified in Table A-1 exist. Table A-2 and Table A-3 describe the specific details that should be included.

Applicants are reminded that detailed information is only required for the elements that are identified as having potential environmental or socio-economic effects. Further, a clear and defensible explanation should be provided as to why any element in Table A-1 is not addressed.

Gender-based analysis plus (GBA+)

The CER Act requires, for applications for certain projects, the Commission take into account a number of specified factors to consider. Among the factors to consider are:

  • “The health, social and economic effects, including with respect to the intersection of sex and gender with other identity factors.”

This requirement applies to, pipelines [s. 183(2)(c)], certificates for power lines [s. 262(2)(c)], and authorizations for offshore renewable energy projects or offshore power lines [s. 298(3)(c)].

NOTE – These sections of the CER Act are consistent with s. 22(1)(s) of the IA Act. The CER is aware that the IA Agency has developed guidance documents related to the intersection of sex and gender.Footnote 5 That guidance may influence future filing requirements for CER Act project applications and assessments by the Commission.

Gender-based analysis plus (GBA+) is a means of identifying and analyzing how sex, gender and other identity factors might result in different groups of people being affected by a pipeline or power line project in different ways. Individual and social identity factors can include sex, gender, religion, race, social position, income, age, ability, and education. By working through a GBA+ analysis, the Commission can better understand the possible disproportionate effects of a project on distinct groups of people, including on vulnerable populations and populations identified by gender.

Gender-based analysis is not new to impact assessment at the CER; however, the CER is making the following changes to guide companies in identifying and predicting a project’s socio-cultural effects on communities. This includes guidance on how to address GBA+ in the CER Early Engagement Guide (Guide L), and also guidance below to address this factor in a project application.

A.2.6 Effects Assessment

Goal

The application includes information on the potential biophysical and socio-economic effects of the project, with enough detail to:

  • predict and analyze the nature and extent of those effects;
  • identify mitigation options to protect the biophysical and socio-economic environment, and analyze their effectiveness; and
  • determine the significance of any effects remaining following mitigation, including the significance of cumulative effects.

A.2.6.1 Identification and Analysis of Effects

Filing Requirements – Identification and Analysis of Effects

Describe the methods used to predict the effects of the project on the biophysical and socio-economic elements, and the effects of the environment on the project.

This Manual assumes a valued component-based approach to effects assessment where the application focuses on those biophysical or socio-economic elements, or a subset of those elements (see guidance below), that may be affected by a project and are of concern or value to the public and Indigenous peoples. Applicants must identify valued components for which effects are predicted and explain why and how the valued components were identified.

If another method is used to assess potential effects on the biophysical and socio-economic elements described in Table A-1, Table A-2, and Table A-3, then provide the details and rationale on that method.

Provide the details of any important aspects of uncertainty associated with the analysis.

Where professional knowledge or experience is cited, describe the extent of professional judgment or experience relied upon, the rationale for that extent of reliance and how the resulting conclusions or decisions were reached.

Predict the effects associated with the proposed project, including those that could be caused by construction, operations, decommissioning or abandonment, as well as accidents and malfunctions. Also include effects the environment could have on the project.

FYI – Reminder...

If there are no predicted interactions between project activities and a particular biophysical or socio-economic element, then no further analysis is necessary for that element. Instead, provide a sufficient description of the project or setting to demonstrate why no interactions are predicted.

For those biophysical and socio-economic elements or their valued components that require further analysis (see Table A-1), provide the detailed information outlined in Table A-2 and Table A-3. This must include, but is not limited to, a description and quantification of:

  • spatial and temporal boundaries for the effects analysis of each biophysical or socio-economic element or valued component associated with the project;
  • local and regional conditions of each biophysical or socio-economic element or valued component (i.e., location, distribution, abundance, status, sensitivity to the project, ability to recover, and natural variation of valued components, as appropriate), including how this is expected to change from baseline if the project were to proceed;
  • factors influencing change, the limiting factors, and the natural variation for each valued component, if known;
  • magnitude and reversibility of any predicted change from baseline conditions;
  • local, regional and federal management objectives (e.g., recovery strategies, action plans, management plans and land use plans) and thresholds, and identify how the effects of the project relate to such strategies, plans, objectives or thresholds;
  • methods used for any modelling, including the assumptions used and limitations of the models; and
  • information about reporting requirements for all levels of government (e.g., for GHGs), if applicable.

For each valued component, provide or reference any supporting information used in the project effects analysis, such as:

  • public comments;
  • engagement with other regulators and departments or agencies;
  • scientific literature;
  • local and Indigenous knowledge;
  • status reports;
  • approved recovery strategies, action plans and management plans for species at risk; and
  • follow-up studies and case studies from other projects;

FYI – See also...

Filing requirements specific to cumulative effects assessment are provided in section A.2.7.

Guidance – Identification and Analysis of Effects

The identification and analysis of project effects builds directly on scoping, the description of the environmental and socio-economic setting, and the level of detail considerations described above.

Typically, applicants use a valued component approach to focus the effects analysis on practical and representative components of the biophysical and socio-economic environment. Valued components could be the broad elements described in Table A-1, Table A-2 and Table A-3 or a representative subset of those elements. In that way, the analysis of potential effects focuses on the components of those biophysical or socio-economic elements where project-environment interactions are more readily assessable, and on the interactions that may be of concern to the public or Indigenous peoples (often termed Valued Environmental Components [VECs] or Valued Socio-economic Components [VSCs]). The valued components selected must:

  • be indicative of predicted effects that could result from the project over time;
  • have baseline data available in order to determine the significance of effects;
  • be able to reflect measurable changes that result from the project effects over time;
  • be sufficient to identify different effects on diverse groups of people, including groups identified by sex and gender, as identified through gender-based analysis plus (GBA+); and
  • be sufficient to identify potential effects on the exercise of Indigenous rights, including effects on the resources involved in or required for the exercise of those rights, specific locations of cultural importance where those rights are exercised, and an Indigenous community’s cultural traditions, laws and governance systems and how those systems inform the manner in which they exercise their rights.

The analysis should result in an understanding of where uncertainty about project-environment interactions may exist, or where information gaps necessary to predict effects may remain.

Spatial and Temporal Boundaries

The spatial and temporal boundaries must:

  • be provided for each valued component, along with a rationale for selecting those boundaries;
  • include the area over which effects on the valued components may occur. This area could include a population boundary, home range, airshed, watershed, Indigenous traditional land and resource use areas, or municipal or regional planning districts;
  • include the duration that each valued component may be affected;
  • consider the effects of the project on the valued component and the extent to which those effects are measurable;
  • include all phases of the project; and
  • not be constrained by jurisdictional boundaries.
Analysis

The analysis methods must be fully disclosed and meet the study needs. In addition to meeting the requirements of other regulations (e.g., Species at Risk Act [SARA], Migratory Bird Convention Act [MBCA], Fisheries Act, etc.), the analysis of project effects must take into account local, regional and federal policy or management objectives (e.g., recovery strategies, action plans, management plans and land use plans) and thresholds. Where there are no management objectives or thresholds, include information on the current state of knowledge on the valued component. After a review of the available literature, if the state of knowledge is incomplete or there is substantial uncertainty, identify any information gaps, and indicate if and how they will be filled. Where uncertainty exists about the project effects on a valued component, describe how the inspection and monitoring program will reduce the uncertainty.

Where there is applicable local and Indigenous knowledge, it must be included in the ESA. See s. 3.4 – Engagement, for further details on engaging with Indigenous persons and communities and gathering Indigenous knowledge.

Effects Assessment for Accidents and Malfunctions

The prevention of any accidents and malfunctions associated with CER-regulated projects is the CER’s goal. In the event an accident or malfunction does occur, the CER will hold its regulated companies accountable for an appropriate response under their Emergency Management Program. This program is required by s. 32 of the OPR (see also s. 3.3).

The applicant’s ESA must identify and assess the effects on workers, the public, and biophysical and socio-economic elements of all potential accidents and malfunctions.

Accidents and malfunctions and associated emergencies can result from numerous events, including pipeline and equipment failure, human error, natural perils such as tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, or earthquakes, and terrorism or other criminal activities. Multi-hazard emergencies, such as an earthquake, may cause pipeline breaks, fires and explosions, which result in injury and further property damage.

The level of detail provided on potential effects of accidents and malfunctions will depend on the:

  • type, scale, and location of the proposed project;
  • type(s) and characteristics of product(s) to be transported or processed;
  • environmental and socio-economic sensitivities within potentially affected areas;
  • the results of the applicant’s engagement program regarding emergency management issues associated with the project; and
  • extent to which an applicant’s existing Emergency Management Program and other plans and manuals address the issues and concerns about the proposed project.

An applicant should describe its methodology for considering the potential effects of malfunctions and accidents associated with the project. As appropriate, information should include a description of how:

  • project-specific information and circumstances informed the effects assessment;
  • the applicant’s existing Emergency Management Program and overall management system informed the design, planning, and proposed mitigation for the project regarding malfunctions and accidents and emergency management;
  • the applicant used a risk informed approach in addressing issues related to malfunctions and accidents and emergency management. If a formal risk assessment was used, it should be described;
  • engagement has informed emergency management planning for the project;
  • tools and methods were used to calculate potential release volumes including a worst-probable release volume;
  • tools and methodologies such as oil trajectory and spill transport modeling, fate and behaviour modeling, ecological risk assessment, human health risk assessment, and air dispersion modeling informed the effects assessment; and
  • potential product fate and behaviour informed effects assessment and response planning.
Abandonment, Deactivation, and Decommissioning

As described in Guide B (Abandonment), an application for abandonment must be filed for all CER-regulated facilities when they have reached their end of life, including associated decommissioned facilities. Pipeline deactivation and decommissioning activities may also be subject to regulatory provisions within the OPR (Refer to Guide G for Deactivation and Guide K for Decommissioning). Applicants must consult those regulations and associated guidance notes as appropriate.

In an application for proposed new facilities, the Commission typically only examines abandonment and decommissioning activities in a broad context. A separate environmental and socio-economic assessment, specific to decommissioning or abandonment activities, will be required in the future when the facilities are ready to be decommissioned or abandoned.

The level of detail provided may be constrained by the uncertainties inherent with forecasting a phase of the project that may be several decades in the future. However, an applicant is still required to provide a preliminary abandonment plan as part of its ESA to support its estimates of funds required by the CER to be set aside during the life of the pipeline for abandonment.

The plan should:

  • describe what pipeline components would be removed, reused or left in place and provide the rationale for doing so. Where site-specific situations require special methodology then details should be provided;
  • provide the reclamation objectives or principles to be applied to abandonment;
  • provide sufficient information to demonstrate that abandonment of the project will return the right of way to a state comparable with the surrounding environment;
  • be developed through engagement with the persons or groups potentially affected;
  • provide the estimated total cost to abandon, as well as the Collection Period over which revenue will be accumulated (if proposing a trust as a set-aside mechanism for abandonment funding); and
  • determine the significance of any effects remaining following mitigation, including the significance of cumulative effects.
Post-Abandonment

Pursuant to s. 95(1) of the CER Act no person shall, without the Commission’s leave, make contact with, alter or remove an abandoned pipeline. Please contact the CER for filing requirements for proposed contact with, alteration or removal of an abandoned pipeline.

A.2.6.2 Mitigation Measures

Filing Requirements – Mitigation Measures

1. Describe the standard and project specific mitigation measures and their adequacy for addressing the project effects, or clearly reference specific sections of company manuals that provide mitigation measures. Ensure that referenced manuals are current and filed with the CER.

FYI – Reminder...

See Section 1.6 – Previously Filed Material, for guidelines on referring to information already filed with the CER.

  • If more than one mitigation measure is proposed as a possibility for any particular effect, provide the applicable criteria for selecting the mitigation to use, or describe how measures would be combined to mitigate against a single effect.
  • If new mitigation measures are to be used, provide any test results or a technically-based rationale for their use and describe how their effectiveness will be evaluated.
  • Ensure mitigation measures are appropriate for the scale of impacts predicted.
  • If project effects cannot be avoided, mitigation must reduce or compensate for them.
  • Where an applicant hires a third party to prepare its ESA, provide a statement committing to adopting and implementing all mitigation recommendations included in the ESA. Explain any mitigation recommendations not adopted and provide alternative approaches, as appropriate.
  • Identify the conditions of approvals or permits required by other regulatory bodies related to the mitigation of environmental or socio-economic effects.

2. Ensure that commitments about mitigative measures will be communicated to field staff for implementation through an Environmental Protection Plan (EPP). An EPP might be simple and concise for smaller, less complex projects but for certain projects (see guidance below), the Commission may require a comprehensive EPP. An EPP must include all environmental commitments specific to the project and include or cross-reference other plans and programs relied on. Describe any plans or programs that may be used to mitigate potential effects (e.g., waste management plans, invasive species plans, horizontal directional drill contingency plans, heritage resource discovery contingency plans, etc.).

3. Describe plans and measures to address potential effects of accidents and malfunctions during construction and operation of the project (see guidance under Identification and Analysis of Effects, Accidents and Malfunctions in s. A.2.6). Under the OPR and associated guidance material, companies are required to have a Security Management Program and an Emergency Management Program (see s. 3.3). These programs must be submitted or referenced for each application.

Guidance – Mitigation Measures

Mitigation measures are:

  • developed during a project’s feasibility study;
  • developed during project design;
  • defined in the project plan;
  • refined as the ESA progresses and the project’s predicted environmental and socio-economic effects become more certain; and
  • may be standard or project-specific measures.

The identification and analysis of effects and mitigation measures may be presented together.

Mitigation Options

At the application stage of the proposed project, many mitigation measures may still be tentative, subject to further detailed design and to site-specific environmental conditions. For these cases, the ESA must describe:

  • the different mitigative options available and being considered; and
  • the criteria that would be used for selecting the actual mitigation to be implemented.

Including the options and selection criteria for contingency measures in an EPP may avoid having to submit variance applications to the CER if changes in field conditions require use of construction alternatives.

FYI – Reminder...

In some cases, the proposed route or site, route segments, facility design or construction methods may themselves be forms of environmental mitigation when compared to alternative routing, design or construction methods. This may be demonstrated in the application’s discussion of alternatives (see sections 4.2.2 and A.2.3) by:

  • identifying which design features and construction methods are considered to be mitigation;
  • identifying any alternatives that were considered to these features or methods and the proposed routing; and
  • providing a comparative analysis of the mitigation measures considered.
Construction Methods

An applicant must justify its proposed construction method and why this method is the best alternative. Applicants should consider construction methods that minimize environmental and socio-economic effects while allowing for safe and efficient installation of a pipeline. For example, low impact pipelining uses a narrower strip of land to excavate the trench, install the pipe, compact the subsoil and replace the topsoil all in one continuous operation. This method has been effective in minimizing adverse impact on agricultural land, forested land and sensitive habitats, such as native prairie. When using this method, topsoil disturbance is reduced, with stripping just slightly wider than the trench. Once the pipeline is lowered into place, the subsoil is returned to the trench and mechanically compacted in layers. The topsoil is then replaced over the levelled trench and land is immediately available for production.

The applicability of low impact pipelining methods will vary according to pipe diameter, topography, and other project-specific factors. However the principles of minimizing disturbance to the land and optimizing construction efficiencies typically result in lesser environmental effects.

Additionally, avoiding instream construction across navigable waterways outside of seasonally dry and frozen conditions can result in less impact to navigation and navigation safety.

Environmental Protection Plan (EPP)

Although the CER expects an EPP to be prepared for all projects, the size and scope of an EPP will vary. An EPP is specific to a project or activity and is a tool to communicate a company’s environmental protection procedures and mitigation measures to employees, contractors, and regulators. The purpose of an EPP is to document and communicate all project-specific environmental commitments made by an applicant and the associated mitigation measures in a clear and user-friendly format.

The Commission may request the EPP to be filed during the examination of an application, or as a condition of approval to be complied with before construction. The CER may expect a comprehensive EPP to be filed under the following circumstances:

  • when the applicant does not have up-to-date company manuals on file with the CER that document its environmental protection procedures;
  • if site-specific or project-specific mitigation or protection measures are provided by the applicant as commitments to avoid or address predicted adverse environmental effects in the application; or
  • if the application and assessment process is lengthy or complex, and environmental protection measures and commitments are contained in several different places or documents. (e.g., responses to information requests).

A comprehensive EPP is typically required for larger facility applications under ss. 183 or 214 of the CER Act. In these circumstances, the CER encourages companies to submit a draft EPP containing all preliminary environmental protection and mitigation measures with their application to assist the Commission in assessing the application. Should the project be approved, the Commission often requires the company to file an updated EPP before starting construction.

When preparing its EPP, an applicant should consider:

  • identifying specific goals for protecting environmental elements and addressing socio-economic elements;
  • describing the environmental protection objective for each goal, and providing mitigative options to meet those objectives based on site-specific conditions; and
  • providing decision-making criteria for choosing which measures and procedures to implement and under what circumstances for each objective.
Draft EPP

If a draft EPP is filed with the application, it should contain:

  • the purpose of the EPP, a summary of the project with a map, and a description of how environmental compliance would be met for the project;
  • the resource-specific mitigation to be applied for the project, and the general environmental protection measures for each phase of construction;
  • (or reference) relevant construction specifications and drawings to execute environmental mitigation measures, and the corresponding environmental alignment sheets;
  • (or cross-reference) other more detailed plans as applicable (e.g., waste management plan, emergency and security management plans, contingency plans, and other element-specific management plans and programs);
  • the assignment of accountabilities and responsibilities for carrying out practices and procedures, making criteria-based decisions and confirming compliance with the Environmental Protection Program (required by the OPR); and
  • a table of contacts for reporting environmental incidents as required by other regulators (and the OPR).
Final EPP

A final comprehensive EPP must:

  • include all items required in a draft EPP;
  • if relevant, include an amendment or concordance table detailing changes from the draft to final version of the EPP;
  • incorporate all environmental commitments made during the CER application assessment process, including all requirements set out in permits, orders, certificates, or any other authorizations;
  • include a copy of any Commission discussion or assessment of environmental matters as set out in or attached to the CER certificate or order;
  • include additional requirements as a result of season-specific field surveys conducted before construction;
  • include the GPS locations for environmentally-sensitive areas identified in the surveys; and
  • include updated environmental alignment sheets summarizing all pertinent environmental issues and the corresponding mitigation measures that will be implemented during construction.
Variances to the EPP

It is the responsibility of the company to apply to the CER for variances to the commitments made in the application, in the application assessment process or as required in the project approval conditions. It is therefore of benefit to the applicant to incorporate decision making criteria for choosing which measures and procedures to implement and under what circumstances. Where this is done, there may be sufficient flexibility to respond to changes that result in the field without filing a variance application.

Further information about variation applications can be obtained from the CER Operations Project Manager assigned to the project or activity.

Waste Management Plan

A waste management plan for the control of contaminated and non-contaminated waste from the project is required. The plan must describe the purpose of the plan, the types of waste anticipated, the resulting prevention and mitigation measures to be applied to manage that waste, and how any relevant reporting requirements will be met. The plan must also include a reporting structure, contact list and reference to other applicable legislation.

Mitigation for Potential Effects of Accidents and Malfunctions

Describe how the Company’s programs, plans and manuals, required under the OPR, interact to prevent and mitigate potential accidents, malfunctions and their potential effects. There may also be project-specific plans and commitments an applicant should consider as part of its mitigation of potential effects of accidents and malfunctions. As noted in s. 3.3, these must also be incorporated into a company’s programs as appropriate.

Specifically, applicants must consider the following when preparing their application. The CER recognizes that some of this information may not be available until following regulatory approval if granted. Further, some of the following may be described on an applicant’s publicly available website within its Emergency Management Program discussion as required by Order MO-002-2017 Compelling Publication of Emergency Management Program Information on Company Websites [Filing A81701]. If an applicant wants to rely on this information as part of the regulatory proceeding record, it should ensure that the information is accessible without a subscription or password, file a copy of the information with the CER, and comply with applicable rules of procedure and procedural directions for the proceeding.

As appropriate, applicants should provide a description of how the applicant has considered or will consider the following as relevant.

  • relevant regulatory instruments such as Order MO-006-2016 [Filing A79720] regarding publication of emergency procedures manuals on company websites, ss. 32 to 35 of the OPR, and incident notification and reporting requirements;
  • project-specific response planning measures such as geographic response plans, response times including response in difficult to access areas and in adverse weather conditions, and the use and availability of models;
  • specific mitigation related to the potential fate and behaviour of the product;
  • personnel and response equipment available and their capabilities and limitations;
  • responder health and safety;
  • public safety through notification and evacuation planning or other means;
  • training and exercises to inform response planning including training or funding arrangements with first responders and other organizations;
  • coordination of company emergency response plans with relevant federal, provincial, municipal and Indigenous community emergency response plans and coordination of responding agencies within the incident management system;
  • mutual aid agreements in place in the event that the incident exceeds company resources and how these resources would be cascaded in;
  • volunteer management during an incident;
  • development of a waste management plan as it pertains to waste generated during an emergency response; and
  • financial liability and compensation mechanisms in place as required by regulation or through company commitments.

A.2.6.3 Evaluation of Significance

Filing Requirements – Evaluation of Significance
  1. After taking into account any appropriate mitigation measures, identify any remaining residual effects from the project.
  2. Describe the methods and criteria used to determine the significance of adverse effects, including defining the point at which any particular effect on a valued component is considered “significant”.
  3. Evaluate the significance of residual adverse environmental and socio-economic effects against the defined criteria.
  4. Evaluate the likelihood of significant, residual adverse environmental and socio-economic effects occurring and substantiate the conclusions made.
Guidance – Applicant’s Evaluation of Significance

Evaluating environmental and socio-economic effects consists of assessing:

  • whether the effects are adverse;
  • whether the adverse effects are significant; and
  • whether the significant adverse effects are likely.

A common way for an applicant to assess project effects is to compare the quality of the existing environment with the predicted quality of the environment if the project is approved and built. The direction of change to the environment may be adverse, neutral or beneficial.

The following criteria may be useful in assessing the significance of a project’s adverse effects:

  • magnitude;
  • duration;
  • frequency;
  • geographic extent;
  • ecological context; and
  • reversibility or degree of permanence.

In applying these criteria to each residual effect, an applicant must define each criteria and the range considered within each criteria. To help evaluate the significance of a particular effect and define the point at which it becomes “significant", consider providing rating attributes (e.g., low / moderate / high) for each significance criteria and defining the range of each attribute. An applicant must also describe how each criterion or combination of criteria was used to reach the applicant’s significance conclusion.

Definitions for rating criteria are expected to be quantitative and based on standards, guidelines, objectives or other established and accepted ecological thresholds. In the absence of any such references or regulatory guidance, or where these are not quantitative (e.g., it may not be appropriate to set thresholds to determine “acceptable levels of change”, in relation to all socio-economic effects), then rating attribute definitions must be qualitative and based on available research literature. Applicants must also consider the level and nature of concerns raised by the public and address issues of concern to Indigenous peoples potentially affected by the project.

The significance of adverse effects could also be assessed by comparing effects to conformity requirements within approved land use plans or conducting a quantitative risk assessment.

Where professional judgement is used to determine the significance of adverse effects, the extent of reliance on professional judgement must be described and rationale for the extent of the reliance must be provided. An applicant’s ESA must provide an evaluation of the likelihood and significance of any adverse environmental effects, for consideration by the Commission.

Assessing the likelihood of significant adverse effects must be based on the probability of occurrence and state the level of scientific uncertainty. If a qualitative determination of the likelihood of significant adverse effects is used, provide a clear rationale and supporting information.

A.2.7 Cumulative Effects Assessment

Goal

The application must include information about the interactions between predicted residual environmental and socio-economic effects of the project and effects from other projects or activities that have been or will be carried out. This information must provide enough detail to:

  • identify and analyze predicted cumulative environmental and socio-economic effects;
  • identify proposed mitigation measures to protect the environment and address socio-economic effects, and to analyze their effectiveness; and
  • evaluate the significance of any predicted cumulative effects.

A.2.7.1 Scoping and Analysis of Cumulative Effects

Filing Requirements – Scoping and Analysis of Cumulative Effects

1. Identify the valued components for which residual effects are predicted, and describe and justify the methods used to predict any residual effects.

FYI – Additional Information...

Both significant and non-significant residual effects of a project may contribute to cumulative effects and must be considered. Residual effects are those effects remaining after implementing the applicant’s mitigation measures. If the applicant can clearly demonstrate that no residual effects are predicted, further analysis of cumulative effects is not required.

2. For each valued component where residual effects have been identified, describe and justify the spatial and temporal boundaries used to assess the potential cumulative effects.

3. Identify other physical facilities or activities that have been or will be carried out within the identified spatial and temporal boundaries for the cumulative effects assessment.

4. Identify whether the effects of those physical facilities or activities that have been or will be carried out would be likely to produce effects on the valued components within the identified spatial and temporal boundaries.

5. Where other physical facilities or activities may affect the valued components for which residual effects from the applicant’s proposed project are predicted, continue the cumulative effects assessment, as follows:

  • consider the various components, phases and activities associated with the applicant’s project that could interact with other physical facilities or activities;
  • provide a description of the extent of the cumulative effects on valued components;
  • where professional knowledge or experience is cited, explain the extent to which professional knowledge or experience was relied upon and justify how the resulting conclusions or decisions were reached.
Guidance – Scoping and Analysis of Cumulative Effects
Cumulative Effects Assessment

Assessing cumulative effects typically requires the same method of analysis as described in the project-specific effects assessment. As discussed in ss. A.2.3 to A.2.6., the baseline information, project description and project-specific mitigation measures already captured in the application must be provided in enough detail to characterize the extent of the residual effects of the project.

SS. A.2.6 and Table A-2 and Table A-3 outline the type of information required for a project-specific effects assessment. Although the tables also make specific note of information required for a cumulative effects assessment for valued components, all information requirements contained in the tables should be evaluated, as appropriate, as a guide for applicants in completing a cumulative effects assessment.

A cumulative effects assessment differs from a conventional project-specific effects assessment in that it typically includes:

  • larger geographic study areas;
  • longer time frames;
  • environmental and socio-economic effects associated with physical facilities or activities that may not be directly related to the applied for project (e.g., upstream or downstream facilities not within the CER’s jurisdiction, a proposed highway project or residential sub-division in the study area, ongoing forestry or agricultural activities); and
  • spatial boundaries that are generally not constrained by jurisdictional boundaries.

The level of effort and scale of the cumulative effects assessment should be appropriate to:

  • the nature and context of the project under assessment;
  • its potential residual effects; and
  • the environmental and socio-economic setting (e.g., an increased level of detail may be required when rapid or intensive development of the region has occurred or is anticipated, or particular environmental or socio-economic sensitivities or risks are involved, such as significant Indigenous traditional use).

Applicants should also consult the CEA Agency’s Operational Policy Statement – Assessing Cumulative Environmental Effects under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012.

Other Physical Facilities or Activities

Provide clear reasoning, with supporting rationale, for selecting the other existing and future physical facilities or activities to be included within the cumulative effects assessment. When identifying other physical facilities or activities, include those physical facilities or activities likely to take place as opposed to those not reasonably foreseeable or hypothetical.

Consideration of other physical facilities or activities that have been or will be carried out within the defined spatial and temporal boundaries must, at minimum, include:

  • existing projects and activities;
  • those physical facilities or activities for which formal plans or applications have been made or are likely to occur; and
  • other related project or activity development assumptions that support and are consistent with the long term economic or financial assumptions (section A.3) and engineering assumptions (section A.1) made in the application, even if formal plans or applications have not yet been made.

The Courts have said that the decisions of responsible authorities are not required to “consider fanciful projects by imagined parties producing purely hypothetical effects”Footnote 6. However, the Commission does have discretion to consider future development scenarios if it is reasonable to anticipate that the applied for project could contribute to the potential cumulative effects resulting from such future development (i.e., if the economic feasibility of the applied for project is contingent upon the future development). The extent to which an applicant must consider the effects associated with other future physical facilities and activities and the associated depth of analysis will depend upon the relative contribution of the applied for project to the predicted cumulative effects.

Where intensive or expansive development of the region is occurring or anticipated, details regarding the flexibility of project-specific mitigation and monitoring strategies become particularly important and should also be provided with the application to demonstrate the ability of the applicant to adapt its plans in the future should the resulting cumulative effects differ from those predicted (further Filing Requirements and Guidance for project related monitoring are provided in s. A.2.8 below).

The CER recognizes that an applicant’s depth of analysis in assessing the effects associated with other future physical facilities and activities will depend on the feasibility and practicality of assessing the effects associated with those facilities and activities. For example, future effects associated with projects not within the direct control of the applicant and for which there is limited information, or which are still in early planning stages, are inherently more challenging to assess. Despite this, an applicant should use the best available information or undertake additional work to assess these potential effects. Any uncertainties associated with the information used and any assumptions or limitations associated with the analysis must be explained.

A.2.7.2 Mitigation Measures for Cumulative Effects

Filing Requirements – Mitigation Measures for Cumulative Effects

Describe the general and specific mitigation measures, beyond project-specific mitigation already considered, that are technically and economically feasible to address any cumulative effects.

  • If appropriate, provide any additional mitigation measures being considered as alternatives to the preferred cumulative effects-specific measures (e.g., adaptive or contingency measures).
  • If more than one mitigation measure is available for any particular cumulative effect, then provide the criteria that would be applied to select the mitigation to use (e.g., for the application of contingency plans).
  • If new or unproven mitigation measures are to be used, provide any test results or a technically-based rationale for their use and describe how their effectiveness would be evaluated.
  • Indicate the likelihood of success in reducing or avoiding cumulative effects by the application of the mitigation measures identified.
Guidance – Mitigation Measures for Cumulative Effects

Mitigation of cumulative effects may include broader-scale planning measures or initiatives to reduce interactions and effects from multiple projects or activities. Potentially effective mitigation of cumulative effects may not be within the direct control of, or undertaken by, the applicant. For example, operators may have cooperation plans in place to prevent simultaneous occurrence of activities or projects, or multiple operators may cooperatively make use of existing disturbed areas to prevent new disturbances. Further, regional-level multi-stakeholder planning initiatives may also be evaluated as a means to mitigate cumulative effects. Where such measures or initiatives are in place, an applicant should clearly explain why the identified mitigation would be appropriate to mitigate any cumulative effects. If the mitigation is not within the direct control of the applicant, it should state who would implement the mitigation and how that responsible party intends to monitor implementation of the mitigation.

Various forms of compensation (e.g., habitat offsets) should also be considered as part of an applicant’s proposed mitigation, as appropriate.

If monitoring or research programs are identified as a means to adaptively manage cumulative effects, the applicant should explicitly identify how those programs will be used to avoid or reduce effects (i.e., which management actions will be triggered when certain ecological or socio-economic effects are identified, or thresholds reached).

A.2.7.3 Applicant’s Evaluation of Significance of Cumulative Effects

Filing Requirements – Applicant’s Evaluation of Significance of Cumulative Effects
  1. After taking into account any appropriate mitigation measures for cumulative effects, identify the remaining residual cumulative effects.
  2. Describe the methods and criteria used to determine the significance of remaining adverse cumulative effects, including defining the point at which each identified cumulative effect on a valued component is considered “significant”.
  3. Evaluate the significance of adverse residual cumulative effects against the defined criteria. If the total cumulative effect on a given valued component is considered significant, describe the incremental increase in total cumulative effects caused by the project.
  4. Evaluate the likelihood of significant, residual adverse cumulative environmental and socio-economic effects occurring and substantiate the conclusions made.
Guidance – Applicant’s Evaluation of Significance of Cumulative Effects

Refer to s. A.2.6 for guidance on evaluating the likelihood and significance of adverse residual environmental and socio-economic effects on a project-specific basis. The key difference between determining the significance of project-specific effects versus cumulative effects is the consideration of other physical facilities and activities. The evaluation of significance must focus on the total cumulative effect that may be created from all physical facilities and activities considered in combination with the proposed project. The definition of significance must be clearly explained and take into account local, regional and federal policy and management objectives (e.g., recovery strategies, action plans, management plans and land-use plans) and thresholds.

A.2.8 Inspection, Monitoring, and Follow-up

Goal

The application describes the inspection, monitoring and follow-up plans and programs that will be in place to prevent, identify, and address potentially adverse environmental effects over the life of the project.

Filing Requirements

1. Describe inspection plans to ensure compliance with biophysical and socio-economic commitments, consistent with ss. 48, 53, and 54 of the OPR. Inspection plans must be sufficiently detailed to demonstrate adequacy and effectiveness and must:

  • identify those positions accountable and responsible for monitoring and ensuring environmental compliance, and confirm they are independent of the contractor, as required by ss. 53 and 54 of the OPR;
  • reference inspection procedures, and describe the accountability and reporting structure for environmental inspectors; and
  • describe minimum qualifications and experience, including training requirements of individuals who will be undertaking inspection and monitoring responsibilities, as required by ss. 46 and 54 of the OPR.

2. Describe the surveillance and monitoring program for the protection of the pipeline, the public and the environment as required by s. 39 of the OPR. The monitoring program must be sufficiently detailed to demonstrate its adequacy and effectiveness and must:

  • include methods for:
    • identifying and tracking environmental and socio-economic issues;
    • resolving any environmental and socio-economic issues specific to the project, including any sampling programs or site-specific investigations as appropriate; and
    • monitoring the effectiveness of mitigation and reclamation, based on established reclamation criteria (see requirements of individual elements in Table A-2) as well as the applicant’s performance measures and targets for each mitigation measure;
    • the frequency or schedule for implementing the procedures listed above; and
    • the criteria for assigning specific monitoring procedures to environmental and socio-economic issues;

3. Consider any particular elements in the Application that are of greater concern and evaluate the need for a more in-depth monitoring program for those elements.

Guidance

The CER recognizes three categories of verification conducted by the applicant. These apply both during and upon completion of construction through the life of the facility:

  • Inspections to confirm both implementation of commitments made during the application process and fulfillment of CER-approval conditions to promote safety, security and environmental protection;
  • Monitoring to confirm if mitigation objectives for a specific project, program, or the continued operation of the project have been met; and
  • Identify and address any potential short term and long term issues or effects experienced, but not predicted.

A more rigorous type of monitoring program to confirm the effectiveness of an element-specific program may be appropriate when:

  • the project or activity is contributing to regional issues of concern;
  • the project involves new or unproven technology or is not routine in nature;
  • the project involves uncertain effects;
  • the project involves new or unproven mitigation measures whose effectiveness is uncertain;
  • a familiar or routine project is proposed in a new or unfamiliar environmental and socio-economic setting.

A condition on the project certificate or order may be imposed to require the applicant to file post-construction monitoring reports after the completion of construction. The time period for required reporting can vary, but typically ranges from one to five years following the commencement of project operations. Projects requiring a longer period of time to reach reclamation goals (e.g., work in areas difficult to revegetate, such as native prairie) or requiring an in-depth, element-specific program may be required to submit monitoring reports of greater scientific rigour or over a longer time period.

  • For IA Act designated physical activities, follow-up on identified elements or issues of concern to:
    • verify the accuracy of the environmental assessment; and
    • determine the effectiveness of any measures taken to mitigate the adverse effects of the project.

Follow-up would generally be an in-depth, scientifically rigorous program.

Revisions to Applicant Plans and Programs

The CER encourages applicants to use its current and relevant plans and programs to support the inspection, monitoring and follow-up components of its application. If these plans or programs have been previously filed with the CER, provide the document title, version number, latest revision date, date of filing and the CER file number. Refer to s. 1.6 for more information regarding these documents. If a project is approved, applicants must file any updates required to incorporate the approved project.

Table A-2: Filing Requirements for Biophysical Elements

FYI – Reminder...

Filing Requirements for an effects assessment are described in sections A.2.5 and A.2.6.

Table A-1 in section A.2.4 provides examples of the circumstances and interactions that lead to the need for detailed information and considers all phases of an applied for project (construction, operation, maintenance and abandonment), including the potential for accidents and malfunctions during each phase.

Table A-2 was designed to assist applicants in identifying the required information specific to individual biophysical elements.The elements and circumstances described in the tables are not exhaustive.

Applicants must adapt the framework below to logically present the detail and analysis of their particular projects. Where project effects may overlap different element categories, it may be appropriate to define a more suitable or specific element or valued component. For example, where there is a risk of soil contamination reaching groundwater, then “groundwater contamination” might be an appropriate element to assess. This could more accurately focus on the issue of concern, avoid repeating information under both soils and water categories, and provide a more focused assessment.

A-2: Filing Requirements for Biophysical Elements

A-2: Filing Requirements for Biophysical Elements

Physical and Meteorological Environment

Filing Requirements

Guidance

1. Describe the general topography of the project area and any particular physical features crossed by the project or which may affect the project.

2. Identify any areas of ground instability.

3. Identify areas of potential wind or water erosion.

4. Describe the local and regional climate. Also identify the potential for extreme weather events, such as wind, precipitation, and temperature extremes.

5. Identify any areas with potential for acid-generating rock and describe the effects if exposed as a result of the project.

6. Identify and describe any areas with permafrost conditions.

7. Describe how local or regional physical and meteorological conditions could affect the project, including how changing conditions may affect the project over the lifetime of the project.

This section provides information on factors or elements of importance that may affect project design.

Give special consideration to the following components which may be either directly or indirectly affected by the project or which may impact project design:

  • unstable slopes or other unfavourable geotechnical conditions, including areas with the potential for landslides, mudflows, slumping, subsidence;
  • seismicity;
  • flooding, migrating watercourses and eroding banks;
  • extreme weather events;
  • seasonal and peak flow regime at stream crossings;
  • river ice processes and potential ice jams;
  • permafrost; and
  • areas with acid rock.

Local and regional climate should be described in terms of the range of its variability and the severity (i.e., frequency and duration of maximums and minimums) as well as its averages.

In regions with the potential for extreme weather events, describe and assess these events in terms of:

  • their frequency and intensity; and
  • how any applicable design standards reduce the potential threat (also see the Filing Requirements contained in Guide A, section 1.2 Engineering Design Principles).

Meteorological impacts must be considered in the context of:

  • climate variability and trends (including changes in extreme weather events);
  • winter ground conditions; and
  • areas where warming trends may influence hydrologic conditions, such as runoff.

In areas where permafrost regimes exist:

  • identify and quantify permafrost conditions, including:
    • discontinuous permafrost;
    • high ice content soils;
    • thaw-sensitive slopes; and
    • riparian areas.
  • develop baselines for:
    • near-surface ground temperatures;
    • active-layer conditions;
    • slope stability; and
    • movement potential on the approaches to river crossings.
  • describe how any changes in the permafrost regime may affect the project over its lifetime.

Soil and Soil Productivity

Filing Requirements

Guidance

1. Describe general soil characteristics and the current level of disturbance associated with soils.

2. For agricultural lands or forested lands with agricultural capability, describe:

  • the soil classification, including the order, group, family, series and type of soil prior to construction, and quantify the soil classification;
  • the productivity of land and the type of agricultural resource;
  • the soil types in the study area highly susceptible to:
    1. wind and water erosion;
    2. soil compaction; and
    3. loss of structure and tilth;
  • any other soil types needing specific management or mitigation measures; and
  • soil conservation and protection measures.

3. Describe any contaminants of concern potentially associated with the project that may affect soil.

4. Describe the historical land use and the potential for contamination of soils or sediments. Describe any known or suspected soil contamination within the study area that could be re-suspended, released or otherwise disturbed as a result of the project.

5. If sediments or soils are contaminated, describe the applicable regulatory standards and all remediation, mitigation and monitoring measures that will be undertaken.

6. Describe the criteria for evaluating reclamation success. Explain how this evaluation would be undertaken and documented. Reclamation measures could include:

  • erosion control, other than re-vegetation;
  • soil reclamation;
  • drainage tile repair;
  • soil compaction alleviation; and
  • soil salinity reduction.

7. Where residual effects have been predicted, identify whether those residual effects would be likely to act in combination with the effects of other physical facilities or activities and expand on the matters described above as appropriate.

Soil profile descriptions for dominant soil types must consider:

  • soil horizons;
  • thickness of horizons;
  • texture;
  • colour;
  • chemical properties; and
  • organic content.

The soils assessment and mitigative plan must consider:

  • soil salvage techniques (e.g., soil stripping, including proposed width, grubbing, and alternative soil handling techniques);
  • soil separation maintenance measures;
  • erosion control measures, including drawings of proposed techniques, particularly at watercourse crossings;
  • wind erosion and wet soil shutdown procedures; and
  • soil compaction prevention measures.

Where there is a potential for human health effects, see Table A-3.

Where soil contamination may be present, consider the guidance provided in the Canadian Standards Association’s (CSA) Z768-01 and Z769-00 standards for Phase I and II Environmental Site Assessments. In addition, the CER’s Remediation Process Guide (2011) may also be of value.

Additional guidance:

Vegetation

Filing Requirements

Guidance

1. For lands where vegetation may be affected by the project, describe:

  • the pre-project diversity, relative abundance and distribution of vegetation species and communities of ecological, economic or human importance (e.g., traditional use, tame pasture, native prairie, wetland or old growth);
  • the conservation status applicable to any particular species or communities;
  • the current level of disturbance associated with vegetation; and
  • the amount, merchantability and location of any merchantable timber to be removed during project construction.

2. Describe any weed infestations and other invasive and introduced species of concern.

3. Describe re-vegetation procedures to be implemented as part of the project, including:

  • re-vegetation techniques and the locations where they would be implemented;
  • seed mixes to be used, their application rates, and the locations for their application, or the criteria for determining these specifications, and a discussion of the use of seed certificates;
  • any fertilizers to be used, their application rates and locations, or the criteria for determining these specifications; and
  • contingency planting and seeding plans that include a description of any species of vegetation to be replanted, the locations for replanting, or the criteria for determining these specifications.

4. Describe the condition(s) to which the RoW and temporary work space will be reclaimed and maintained once construction has been completed. Explain the extent to which the ROW needs to be kept cleared or could be left to grow and provide the criteria relied on to determine this.

5. Describe the vegetation standards and controls to be implemented while constructing and operating the project. Describe any integrated vegetation management program, including:

  • the criteria and circumstances for applying chemical, biological or mechanical control methods;
  • the selection of plant species to be kept and planted to promote naturally low growing plant communities; and
  • the use of herbicides, tree growth regulators or other chemicals, their application rates and protocols.

6. Describe criteria for evaluating reclamation success related to vegetation and how this evaluation would be undertaken and documented.

7. Where residual effects have been predicted, identify whether those residual effects would be likely to act in combination with the effects of other physical facilities or activities and expand on the matters described above as appropriate.

The description of vegetated lands does not include industrial lands.

Vegetation community descriptions must apply the most relevant and up to date ecological classification or mapping system. Reference any available provincial or territorial inventory and mapping standards and guidelines.

Engagement with potentially affected Indigenous communities may provide further information. Conservation status (provincial and COSEWIC) of ecological communities as well as plant species must be noted.

Explain how communities in the study area were delineated (i.e., existing mapping, remote sensing interpretation, or field mapping).

Indicate the date of spatial data collection.

Provide justification if field work was not carried out.

The effects analysis on vegetation must consider:

  • change in vegetation cover caused by the project;
  • alternatives to clearing the entire ROW (include options and decision criteria for retaining vegetation in order to break lines of sight, control access, maintain wildlife corridors, maintain habitat connectivity, reduce fragmentation and reducing overall cumulative effects)
  • weed control measures (e.g., prevention, treatment);
  • avoidance of any sensitive or rare communities and important individuals (e.g., vegetation important to wildlife); and
  • seed mixes and replanting for re-vegetation purposes.

Native and indigenous species adapted to local conditions should be used when the goal of revegetation is to naturalize or regenerate the area.

Vegetation control programs, including the frequency of work, monitoring and inspection of RoW vegetation conditions, and control procedures, must consider:

  • the nature of the vegetation cover (e.g., species mix, characteristics) occurring along the RoW, and variations over different biogeographical areas;
  • the promotion or inhibition of different plant communities (naturally low or slow growing plant species versus predominantly tall or fast growing species); and
  • the application of other integrated vegetation management practices.

If herbicides or other chemicals may be used, consider:

  • the criteria for their use;
  • the concentrations, rates and methods of application;
  • their specificity and potential adverse environmental effects; and
  • referring to material safety data sheets.

Water Quality and Quantity

Filing Requirements

Guidance

1. Provide a project-specific water use assessment identifying and describing the water resources and the quality of those resources potentially affected by the project, including: any need for water withdrawn from local waterbodies, the purpose, the quantities required, the waterbodies used as a supply source, the flow rate or volume of water available in the waterbody and how and where waste water would be discharged.

2. Describe any interactions between the project and groundwater. Where there is an interaction:

  • describe any potential changes in groundwater flows and any subsequent effects from the changes; and
  • identify any wells nearby, providing criteria for the spatial boundary considered, and describe the potential for well water quantity and quality to be affected.

3. Describe any contaminants potentially associated with the project that may affect water quality.

4. Describe mitigation for any potential effects on surface-, ground- or well-water quantity and quality, including the need for any specific pre- and post-construction monitoring.

5. Describe any applicable water management plans.

6. Where residual effects have been predicted, identify whether those residual effects would be likely to act in combination with the effects of other physical facilities or activities and expand on the matters described above as appropriate.

The effects analysis regarding quality or quantity of ground or surface water (e.g., lakes, watercourses, riparian areas, or man-made water bodies or structures) must consider:

  • withdrawal or discharge needs for the proposed project; and
  • any potential inter-basin transfers that might introduce undesirable biota.

In addition to meeting the requirements of s. 24 of the OPR by obtaining permits for hydrostatic testing, applicants must consider hydrostatic test water needs and management in its environmental effects assessment. Where the final details of hydrostatic testing have yet to be confirmed, applicants must still identify their expected needs, options available to them and the criteria they intend to apply to ensure protection of water resources.

Applicants may identify any alternative sources of water (e.g., recycled or brackish water) for the project. Also consider the potential to reuse test water from section to section for pipe testing.

Project interactions with groundwater may result from crossing a shallow water table or specific project activities (e.g., blasting). In these cases, consider the spatial extent and depth levels as well as water characteristics (e.g., salinity).

Consider and describe whether the project may affect evaporation and transpiration rates and therefore affect surface land use, especially in agricultural areas.

If there is potential for contaminants affecting water resources, consider sediment or groundwater sampling for assessment of contaminants.

Where there is a potential for human health effects, see Table A-3.

Additional guidance:

Fish and Fish Habitat

Filing Requirements

Guidance

1. Identify fish species and their life stages in the study area, as well as their contribution to local fisheries or to ecological importance.

2. Describe the seasonal ranges, seasonal sensitive periods, habitat use, movements, and general population status of fish species identified above.

3. Identify any fisheries avoidance measures, mitigation, or other measures to protect and enhance fish and fish habitat, including protected areas in and near the study area.

4. Identify the need for an authorization under s. 35(2) (b) of the Fisheries Act for the harmful alteration, disruption of fish habitat.

5. Describe, in detail, sensitive areas and sensitive habitats, including wetlands and riparian habitat.

6. Where fish-bearing watercourses would not be crossed by trenchless methods, either describe and justify the watercourse-crossing techniques to be used or the criteria for determining the techniques proposed for each watercourse crossing.

7. Describe the timing of any instream work, including restricted activity periods and windows.

8. Describe the conditions to which the watercrossings and riparian zones would be reclaimed and maintained once construction has been completed.

9. Describe criteria for evaluating success of reclamation of fish-bearing water bodies and their banks, as well as riparian areas. Describe how and when this evaluation would be undertaken and documented.

10. Where residual effects have been predicted, identify whether those residual effects would be likely to act in combination with the effects of other physical facilities or activities and expand on the matters described above as appropriate.

Applicants should work with the relevant provincial or territorial fisheries authorities to identify issues and appropriate mitigative measures, and where appropriate, Indigenous communities.

Where an authorization is required from DFO, outline any appropriate offsetting and monitoring.

Where effects on fish and fish habitat may affect human health, see Table A-3.

DFO has several guidance documents and information pieces that could be useful in dealing with fish and fish habitat. Please refer to the DFO National website for applicable materials and guidance.

The document Pipeline Associated Watercourse Crossings (5th Edition) – endorsed by DFO – provides guidance on best practices and meeting regulatory requirements. This document may be obtained through the CER, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP), the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association (CEPA) or the Canadian Gas Association (CGA).

Wetlands

Filing Requirements

Guidance

1. Quantify, delineate and describe wetlands in the study area in the context of:

  • wetland class, ecological community type and conservation status;
  • abundance at local, regional and provincial scales;
  • distribution; and
  • current level of disturbance.

2. Identify and describe wetland capacities to perform hydrological, water quality, habitat or other ecological functions.

3. Identify a regional study area of sufficient size to capture effects on wetlands within the larger drainage area. Include wetlands located outside of the local study area that may be affected by hydrological changes as a result of cumulative effects.

4. Detail the efforts to be taken to avoid impacting wetlands, mitigation, monitoring and any applicable compensation measures, for potentially affected wetlands.

5. Where residual effects have been predicted, identify whether those residual effects would be likely to act in combination with the effects of other physical facilities or activities and expand on the matters described above as appropriate.

Wetlands include bogs, fens, marshes, swamps and shallow waters as defined in the Canadian Wetland Classification System (National Wetlands Working Group, 1997).

The effects analysis regarding wetlands must consider any potential loss of wetland function.

A higher level of assessment may be required for provincially or territorially significant wetlands, for wetlands of significance to Indigenous peoples or for features of significance. Discuss any applicable provincial or territorial classification schemes, and protection policies and requirements.

Applicants should consult with Environment and Climate Change Canada regarding mitigation for wetlands.

Additional guidance:

Useful information sources accessible from Environment and Climate Change Canada include:

Wildlife and Wildlife Habitat

Filing Requirements

Guidance

1. Identify wildlife species of ecological, economic or human importance in the study area. Also describe the:

  • diversity, distribution and location;
  • abundance and population status;
  • life cycle;
  • seasonal ranges (e.g., migration);
  • habitat requirements;
  • movements (e.g., wildlife corridors); and
  • sensitive periods (e.g., seasonal, diurnal and nocturnal).

2. For the wildlife identified above, describe and quantify the habitat type, including its:

  • function;
  • location;
  • suitability;
  • structure;
  • diversity;
  • relative use; and
  • abundance as it exists prior to project construction.

3. Describe any lands in the study area that might constitute sensitive areas and habitat for wildlife, or nearby environmentally-significant areas, such as National Parks, areas of natural or scientific interest, Migratory Bird Sanctuaries or other important bird areas or sanctuaries, National Wildlife Areas, or World Biosphere Reserves.

4. Identify wildlife management areas and established or proposed sanctuaries or other areas in or near the study area.

5. Describe the levels of disturbance currently affecting wildlife and habitat, such as habitat fragmentation and the extent of human access and use.

6. Where residual effects have been predicted, identify whether those residual effects would be likely to act in combination with the effects of other physical facilities or activities and expand on the matters described above as appropriate.

7. Further, with respect to cumulative effects:

  • Describe the cumulative disturbance footprint of proposed and future physical facilities and activities within known key habitats (e.g., migration corridors, denning or calving areas, feeding areas) and distribution of that footprint, quantitatively where possible. Describe the effects on the connectivity of key habitats.
  • Describe the cumulative effects on wildlife that could occur as a result of the timing of the proposed project in combination with other physical facilities or activities.
  • Describe how cumulative changes in access would affect wildlife mortality risk or habitat quantity and quality.
  • Compare the cumulative effect on each species assessed to any available species-specific thresholds or policies, and indicate to what degree a threshold is approached or exceeded.

The identification and description of wildlife presence in the area must include, but not be limited to, resident, temporary (e.g., migratory), unique species or populations, and umbrella and keystone species. Mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and invertebrates may be relevant. The identification and description of wildlife of human importance must also consider consumptive (e.g., hunting, harvesting) and non-consumptive (e.g., bird-watching) values, as well as species of importance to potentially affected Indigenous communities.

The identification, description and quantification of habitat must include, but not be limited to:

  • breeding or rutting grounds,
  • nesting and denning sites;
  • wintering grounds;
  • hibernation or hibernaculum sites;
  • moulting, migration and staging areas;
  • movement corridors;
  • mineral licks; and
  • trees important to wildlife (e.g., bat trees).

Other sensitive areas and habitats include:

  • wetlands (and associated upland habitats);
  • riparian habitat;
  • forest interior habitat;
  • old growth; and
  • grasslands / native prairie.

The effects analysis regarding wildlife and wildlife habitat must consider factors such as:

  • ecosystem functions;
  • the timing of construction activities in relation to sensitive periods for wildlife (e.g., migratory bird breeding season);
  • varying degrees of wildlife habitat loss;
  • changes in habitat quality (e.g., fragmentation, edge effects);
  • changes in human access;
  • disturbance to wildlife, including sensory (light and noise) disturbance from operation of above-ground facilities, including on birds and nocturnal species; and,
  • direct and indirect wildlife mortality.

Ensure spatial boundaries for the study area and assessment are specific to the valued component and ecologically defensible (e.g., winter range boundaries, migration routes, fawning and calving areas).

When calculating the disturbance footprint or linear disturbance density, remember to include the total avoidance area experienced by the valued component, which may be considerably larger than the physical footprint itself depending on the valued component.

Temporal considerations are also relevant. For example, effects on wildlife from noise and sensory disturbance, water usage or divergence, or waste stream emissions to air, land or water can be exacerbated by having a number of projects taking place simultaneously (or continuously over more than one season) in a watershed, breeding area or migratory pathway.

Increased access to project areas, whether temporary or permanent, affects wildlife habitat, populations, distribution and interactions. Access may include not only human access but increased ease of access by predators or competing species.

Examples of tools that may be used to assess cumulative effects on valued components include scenario-based models, spatial analysis using a geographic information system, and landscape level indicators of change (e.g., linear density) (see the CEA Agency’s Cumulative Effects Practitioners Guide, 1999).

Applicants should note the requirements of applicable provincial, territorial and federal regulations (e.g., the federal Migratory Birds Regulations).

Additional guidance:

Environment and Climate Change Canada and its Divisions (e.g., Canadian Wildlife Service) are sources of relevant information on:

The Important Bird Areas database may be accessed through Bird Studies Canada or Nature Canada.

Species at Risk or Species of Special Status

Filing Requirements

Guidance

1. For effects related to wildlife, fish and plant species at risk or species of special status:

  • identify the species and their status;
  • provide the appropriate references to the SARA Schedules, or Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC), provincial or territorial listing;
  • identify their habitat(s), including any critical habitat(s) identified in a Recovery Strategy or an Action Plan listed on the SARA public registry;
  • determine whether the species, its habitat, or the residences of those species could be affected by project activities;
    • if not, explain why not;
    • if yes, describe any predicted effects;
    • identify any critical timing windows (e.g., denning, rutting or spawning), setback distances, or other restrictions;
    • identify if a provincial, territorial or federal (e.g., SARA) permit will be required; and
    • identify any proposed mitigative measures (e.g., improved project design or construction timing or compensation plan).

2. Where the project may result in the destruction of any part of the critical habitat of a wildlife species listed on Schedule 1 of SARA, describe:

  • any discussions with the appropriate Federal Authority (Environment and Climate Change Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Parks Canada) on obtaining a permit under s. 73 of the SARA;
  • all reasonable alternatives to the project that would avoid the effect on the species’ critical habitat; and
  • all feasible measures that will be taken to eliminate the effect of the work or activity on the species’ critical habitat.

3. Where residual effects have been predicted, identify whether those residual effects would be likely to act in combination with the effects of other physical works or activities and expand on the matters described above as appropriate.

Many rare species (e.g., endangered or threatened species under the SARA) are at risk in large part as a result of the past cumulative effects on their population or habitat. Their inclusion on official lists reflects their status as having crossed a threshold requiring special actions for their protection and recovery. Any additional residual effects have the potential to further contribute to this existing situation. Consequently, proposed projects must preferably avoid, or fully mitigate or compensate for any residual project contribution to cumulative effects.

Status refers to designation under federal, provincial or territorial legislation or guidelines (e.g., extirpated, endangered, threatened or of special concern).

Consult the SARA public registry for Schedule 1, the List of Wildlife Species at Risk, and Schedules 2 and 3 of SARA. Consult with Environment and Climate Change Canada (Canadian Wildlife Service), Fisheries and Oceans Canada, or Parks Canada on species at risk or their critical habitat in the study area.

Where critical habitat has not been defined, field studies may be necessary, as well as identifying, with federal, provincial or territorial authorities, mitigation measures that effectively avoid sensitive interaction periods or activities. Field surveys may be useful in identifying mitigation needs or locally common populations not substantially affected.

For species at risk listed on Schedule 1 of SARA, the proposed mitigative measures must be consistent with any applicable Recovery Strategies and Action Plans listed on the SARA public registry.

Consult with appropriate provincial or territorial authorities on species listed under those jurisdictions.

For species at risk with no recovery strategy or action plan, applicants should use the best available information, such as COSEWIC status reports, draft recovery strategies or action plans, existing plans or input from the recovery team and specific advice (or management plans) from any jurisdiction that manages the species. Describe how measures to avoid, fully mitigate or compensate project effects would align with the best available information. When relying on compensation plans, describe the details of engagement with relevant experts, the options available, and criteria for selecting the options relied on, and for assessing the adequacy (sufficiency and validity) of any compensation measures or offsets.

Applicants should conduct a thorough inventory of all areas potentially affected by the project that are expected to support any species at risk or species of special status. Consult federal, provincial, territorial, regional and local databases (e.g., conservation data centres) and any other information associated with species of special status. Species data in existing databases may not be systematically collected or updated and, therefore, a database search may not be sufficient to support a conclusion about the absence of a species in the area.

Additional guidance, including direction to relevant federal, provincial, territorial and other related information, is available from the COSEWIC and Environment and Climate Change Canada.

Air Emissions

Filing Requirements

Guidance

1. Provide an assessment of air emissions from construction equipment and vehicular traffic.

2. For pipeline and gas plant projects that result or may result in an increase in air emissions during operations or maintenance:

  • describe local and regional meteorological conditions, including a description and rationale for the meteorological data used in any quantitative assessment;
  • describe existing background concentrations in the surrounding airshed and the methodology used to determine baseline concentrations;
  • describe the source characteristics (e.g., point emissions, area sources, flaring and incineration emissions, and fugitive sources);
  • provide a quantitative assessment of any potential air emissions (e.g., nitrogen dioxide, hydrogen sulphide, sulphur dioxide, ozone, volatile organic compounds, benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene (BTEX), mercaptans and particulate matter), including fugitive emissions generated by activities and systems associated with the project. Also provide a comparison to all relevant regulatory ambient air quality criteria (both provincial and federal);
  • identify maximum discharge limits associated with the project including assumptions, inputs and any variables associated with the maximum discharge;
  • describe the mitigation measures and how they would be implemented to protect the local airshed conditions; and
  • describe participation in national or regional air emission tracking and reporting programs, or provide rationale why participation is not required.

3. Where residual effects have been predicted, identify whether those residual effects would be likely to act in combination with the effects of other physical facilities or activities and expand on the matters described above as appropriate.

The effects assessment must consider:

Where ecological and human health effects are predicted to result from the project, see Table A-3.

Monitoring and follow-up must consider:

  • requirements under federal (CCME) as well as provincial guidelines and permit requirements; validation of predictions in the event of possible exceedances of ambient air quality objectives;
  • uncertainty or absence of data to model or assess air quality; and
  • public concerns about air quality.

Where the project may result in an increase in GHG emissions during construction, operations or maintenance, see the GHG emissions section.

Additional guidance:

GHG Emissions and Climate Change

Filing Requirements

Guidance

1. Direct emissions – for project construction and for project operations:

  • describe the sources of GHG emissions;
  • provide a quantitative estimate of GHG emissions;
  • identify and explain which climate change laws, regulations and policies apply to the GHG emissions and to what extent;
  • provide the GHG emissions as a percentage of total sector-based emissions, and as a percentage of provincial and national reported GHG emissions;
  • describe the mitigation measures to be implemented for GHG emissions reduction and for continuous improvement of GHG emissions management;
  • for proponents of projects with a lifetime beyond 2050, project applications must include a credible plan to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050; and
  • discuss how the project may hinder or contribute to Canada’s efforts to reduce GHG emissions.

2. Operational emissions from third-party energy sources – if there are electrical or other energy requirements for project operations that are not considered in the direct emissions assessment:

  • describe those requirements and the expected sources of that energy;
  • provide a quantitative estimate of GHG emissions associated with the generation of those energy requirements; and
  • identify and explain which climate change laws, regulations and policies apply to those GHG emissions and to what extent.

3. Climate Resilience – See Filing Manual Table A-2 – Physical and Meteorological Environment, for requirements and guidance.

The guidance below considers the principles and objectives of ECCC’s Strategic Assessment of Climate Change.

As noted in the Filing Manual s.A.2.4 Level of Detail, the depth of analysis should be commensurate with the nature of the project and the potential for effects.

The GHG emission assessment should, as appropriate:

  • include point and area sources, such as combustion (including flaring and incineration), and venting and fugitive sources;
  • include all non-negligible sources, for example, emissions from changes in land use and burning of vegetation during land clearing;
  • include a description and justification of the methods and assumptions used in the estimation; and
  • clarify what avoidance, mitigation and offset measures have been taken into account in the quantitative estimate; and describe the criteria used for this.

In addition, quantitative estimates should, as appropriate:

  • be provided as quantities of individual gases and in terms of carbon dioxide equivalent; and
  • for project operations, be provided on an absolute annual basis and in intensity terms.

Applicants may consider using appropriate industry-wide estimates for their assessment of GHG emissions, insofar as these are currently up to date.

The discussion of laws, regulations and policies should cover those at relevant regional, provincial, federal and international levels. Examples might include targets, carbon pricing, mandatory reductions or offsets, and reporting programs.

In assessing the extent of emissions, consider relevant sector-based totals as well as provincial and national reported emissions for comparison. Regional airshed-based studies may also be applicable. Discuss the project GHG emissions as a percentage of governmental GHG reduction targets.

Discussion of mitigation should include the alternative means considered to reduce GHG emissions and how the preferred option was chosen. Consider the appropriateness and potential of offsets for residual emissions, including the timing and implementation of any offsets selected. Project design features or proposed mitigation may limit or reduce the extent to which a project hinders Canada’s ability to meet its commitments in respect of climate change.

If project operations depend on electrical or other energy requirements (e.g., to supply power for facility stations) that must be acquired from a third party or other corporate entity and that are not included in the project’s direct emissions assessment, then an assessment of this should also be included.

The GHG emissions assessment should consider relevant estimating and reporting guidance, such as:

Provincial estimating and reporting guidance could also be followed, such as:

GHG Emissions and Climate Change – Assessment of Upstream GHG Emissions

Filing Requirements

Guidance

1. Upstream emissions

  • Applicants should indicate if the upstream emissions associated with the project are likely to be above or below the applicable threshold presented in section 3.2 of the Strategic Assessment of Climate Change.
  • If above the identified threshold, provide an assessment of upstream GHG emissions based on currently available Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) guidance.

 

In accordance with ECCC guidance, the assessment of upstream GHG’s should consist of two parts:

  • Part A should provide a quantitative estimate based on the project’s maximum throughput (or additional throughput for expansion or replacement projects).
  • Part B should provide a qualitative discussion on the extent to which those upstream emissions may (or may not) be incremental as a result of the project.

This assessment should describe the methodology, data and assumptions used.

Note: The plan to achieve net-zero emissions does not apply to upstream GHG emissions, even if an upstream GHG emissions assessment is conducted.

Guidance and practice for upstream GHG emissions estimation includes:

Explain how the assessment is consistent with the supply forecast and analysis of the need for the project.

Acoustic Environment

Filing Requirements

Guidance

1. Where there is a public concern associated with an increase in noise levels during construction, provide a noise impact assessment, including an overview of the concerns.

2. For projects that result or may result in an increase in noise emissions during operations or maintenance (e.g., pump stations, compressor stations, gas plants):

  • describe existing ambient noise levels in the area, including the methods and data sources used to determine the ambient levels;
  • identify the potentially affected receptors and permissible sound levels for each receptor;
  • quantify noise levels at appropriate distances from the facility (e.g., at edges of the RoW/facility and at the affected receptor) and describe the frequency, duration and character of noise;
  • provide the predicted sound levels from the project alone and predicted cumulative sound levels in combination with other existing and future physical facilities and activities in the area, including an assessment of low frequency noise;
  • describe engagement with regulators, stakeholders, community groups, landowners and Indigenous communities about potential effects of the project on the acoustic environment;
  • identify and justify the applicable guidelines used to determine the significance of the effects of the predicted emissions associated with the project;
  • provide a noise management plan, including identification of noise sources, an assessment of current noise mitigation measures, performance effectiveness of noise control devices, best practices programs and continuous improvement programs; and
  • identify the need for a follow-up monitoring for the purposes of validation of the model or as a result of any concerns raised by the public.

3. Where residual effects have been predicted, identify whether those residual effects would be likely to act in combination with the effects of other physical facilities or activities and expand on the matters described above as appropriate.

The effects assessment must consider:

  • any effects from inaudible noise (e.g., low frequency noise); and
  • the effects of noise on wildlife.

Noise management plans must consider:

  • notification and scheduling of maintenance activities, such as blowdowns and equipment venting during daylight hours; and
  • notification of nearby residences and local authorities of plans and procedures for preventing and managing noise.

Where there is a potential for human health effects see, Table A-3.

Additional guidance:

For projects in provinces with no guidelines, please refer to AER Directive 038 or AUC Rule 012, whichever is the most appropriate.

Environmental Obligations

Filing Requirements

Guidance

1. Provide a listing of Government of Canada environmental obligations that may potentially be relevant to the project.

2. Provide an appropriate summary or concordance table summarizing where in the application each of the Government of Canada environmental obligations identified and listed have been considered.

3. Where the environmental obligations are addressed in the application, this must be part of an appropriate assessment of potential effects and applicable mitigation. The assessment should include discussion of how the project may hinder or contribute to Canada’s efforts to meet any relevant environmental obligations.

As noted in the Filing Manual s. A.2.4 Level of Detail, the depth of analysis should be commensurate with the nature of the project and the potential for effects.

As noted in both the existing Filing Manual guidance on Engagement (s. 3.4.2) and in the CER Early Engagement Guide, proponents should also consult with appropriate federal government agencies for assistance in identifying federal environmental obligations relevant to the project.

  • Canada’s environmental obligations may cover a range of environmental issues and refer to the obligations of Canada in domestic and international law in relation to the protection of the natural environment. Environmental obligations are set out in domestic instruments such as federal legislation and regulations, with which compliance is a requirement.
  • In addition to obligations implemented in Canadian law and regulation, other domestic instruments developed to implement federal environmental obligations may include policy documents, plans, frameworks, and targets or quantitative goals.
  • Legal requirements, policy direction, plans, frameworks, and targets or quantitative goals will often be specific to a particular environmental issue and should inherently be covered in a proponent’s environmental and socio-economic assessment. In the proponents’ assessment of potential effects on any particular valued component, applicants should relate this to any relevant requirements or standards being met. From this, applicants should also identify any related Canadian environmental obligations.
  • The listing of environmental obligations may be organized by biophysical element or valued environmental component, or be organized by any other alternative method of categorization that is systematic in approach. Consider also including the associated domestic instruments.
  • Project routing, design features and proposed mitigation measures may limit or reduce the extent to which a project hinders Canada’s ability to meet its environmental obligations. In some instances they may also result in contributing to meeting those obligations.

Example – the Federal Wetland Policy would typically be referenced and inform a proponent’s environmental assessment of wetlands. In addition to the policy being considered in the assessment of project impacts on wetlands, it should also be cited in the listing of Government of Canada environmental obligations and the assessment should be referenced.

Table A-3: Filing Requirements for Socio-economic Elements

FYI – Reminder...

Filing Requirements for an effects assessment are described in sections A.2.5 and A.2.6.

Table A-1 in section A.2.4 provides examples of the circumstances and interactions that lead to the need for detailed information and considers all phases of an applied for project (construction, operation, maintenance and abandonment), including the potential for accidents and malfunctions during each phase.Table A-3 was designed to assist Applicants in identifying detailed information needs specific to individual socio-economic elements. The elements and circumstances described in the table are not exhaustive.

GBA+ throughout

Both the adverse effects of the project, as well as project benefits, can impact people in different ways depending on a variety of identity factors, such as sex, gender, age, culture, Indigeneity, and ability. Gender-based analysis plus (GBA+) can help to consider such differences. In the context of assessing the effects of a proposed project, this includes asking questions such as:

  • What are the relevant identity factors that might determine the extent to which someone is positively or negatively affected by the project?
  • How are adverse effects and benefits of a project expected to vary according to these relevant identity factors?
  • Are tailored mitigation measures available to address the expected differences in the impact of adverse effects and distribution of benefits?
  • Are such measures practical for the project, and can effectiveness be monitored over time?

GBA+ should be applied when considering each of the socio-economic elements in the following tables. In addition, where project impacts may have specific or adverse effects on Indigenous women within potentially affected Indigenous communities, these potential impacts and the measures proposed to mitigate such impacts should be discussed. Note that differing identity factors might be relevant within different elements – for example, the group of people that may be differentially affected by project impacts on resource use might differ from the group of people that may be differentially affected by project impacts on human health or project-related employment. Where any issues relating to the privacy of individuals are raised, or where information is considered confidential or is otherwise unavailable, a rationale for the approach taken should be provided.

Further discussion on GBA+ is available via the Women and Gender Equality Canada federal government website. Specific guidance on the application of GBA+ to impact assessments has been developed by IAAC and should also be consulted.

Table A-3: Filing Requirements for Socio-economic Elements

Human Occupancy and Resource Use

Filing Requirements

Guidance

1. Describe the general patterns of human occupancy and resource use in the study area.

2. Describe the potential interactions of the project with local and regional human occupancy and resource development activities. Include effects the project may have on the maintenance of those activities and on the livelihood of local workers, business owners and operators.

3. Describe the goals of any applicable local or regional land use plans or local or regional development plans and the extent to which the project is aligned with such plans.

4. Identify predicted effects of the project on the quality and quantity of ground or surface water used for domestic, commercial, agricultural or recreational uses.

5. Identify any predicted visual or other aesthetic effects of the project on existing land use in the study area.

6. Identify any predicted effects of the project on livestock health and productivity.

7. Describe any site specific and project wide mitigation to address identified effects.

8. Where residual effects have been predicted, identify whether those residual effects would be likely to act in combination with the effects of other physical facilities or activities and expand on the matters described above as appropriate.

The assessment of potential impacts on human occupancy and resource use must evaluate:

  • rural and urban residential areas (includes both year-round and seasonally-occupied facilities), lands in a reserve within the meaning of subsection 2(1) of the Indian Act, Indigenous communities and Indigenous traditional territories;
  • agricultural areas (including specialty crops, orchards and vineyards);
  • health and productivity of livestock;
  • recreation and park areas (including local and provincial or territorial parks and recognized scenic areas);
  • lands under Parks Canada’s jurisdiction, conservation areas, International Biological Program Sites or other ecological reserves or preserves;
  • industrial and commercial areas;
  • controlled or managed forest areas (including agreement forests and timber sales areas);
  • registered or recognized hunting, trapping or guiding areas and commercial and sport fishing areas;
  • water reserves and licences, and water supply sources or intakes for agricultural, industrial, commercial, residential and municipal users; and
  • transportation infrastructure, which, in addition to road and rail infrastructure, would also include navigable waterways.

The project should be assessed for compatibility with local and regional land use and development plans. Where “multiple-use” is permitted, it should also be assessed for compatibility with existing uses.

If there is a predicted effect on the use of traditional territory or potential or established treaty or Indigenous rights, refer to the Traditional Land and Resource Use element within this table.

If there is a predicted effect on a biophysical component (e.g., Water Quality and Quantity, Acoustic Environment) that could affect Human Occupancy and Resource Use, refer to that biophysical component in Table A-2.

If there is a predicted effect on visual or other aesthetic qualities, refer to the guidance under the Human Health element within this table.

Heritage Resources

Filing Requirements

Guidance

1. Describe any known heritage resources in the study area.

2. Determine the potential for any undiscovered heritage resources in the study area.

3. Describe what contingency plans and field measures would be undertaken if a heritage resource is discovered during construction.

4. Provide copies of correspondence from provincial or territorial authorities responsible for heritage resources with comments on any heritage resource assessment and proposed mitigation measures.

5. Indicate whether the applicant would implement the recommendations of the provincial or territorial heritage resource authorities.

6. If a previous heritage resource assessment has been completed in the study area, a summary should be filed along with any additional mitigation measures specific to the applied for project.

7. Where residual effects have been predicted, identify whether those residual effects would be likely to act in combination with the effects of other physical facilities or activities and expand on the matters described above as appropriate.

Applicants must be aware of federal, provincial or territorial legislation or guidelines for identifying and protecting heritage resources.

Applicants must engage with Indigenous communities with concerns about heritage resources in the project area.

Although lands may be previously disturbed, an archaeological and paleontological assessment may still be required.

The heritage resources assessment must be completed by a qualified archaeologist or paleontologist and include details of the field methodology used in the study.

Where there is potential for discovery of heritage resources during construction or operations activities, a heritage resources contingency plan must be submitted. The plan must state, at a minimum, who would be contacted and under what conditions work would stop and resume.

Traditional Land and Resource Use

Filing Requirements

Guidance

1. Describe how lands and resources in the study area are currently used by Indigenous persons or communities for traditional purposes.

2. Identify the Indigenous persons or communities currently carrying out traditional land and resource use activities, the spatial and temporal extent of use and how the project could impact this use.

3. Describe all reasonable alternatives considered that would avoid the impact on the Indigenous traditional land and resource use considered during project development.

4. Describe all feasible measures that would be taken to mitigate the impact of the activity on Indigenous traditional land and resource use.

5. Describe the methodology used to collect the Indigenous traditional land and resource use information and provide a listing, and the rationale for the listing, of all Indigenous persons and communities contacted.

6. Demonstrate that those Indigenous persons and communities participating in collecting traditional use information have had the opportunity to review the information and proposed mitigation. Include any comments from the Indigenous participants on the information and proposed mitigation.

7. Where residual effects have been predicted, identify whether those residual effects would be likely to act in combination with the effects of other physical facilities or activities and expand on the matters described above as appropriate.

An assessment of impacts on current use of lands and resources for traditional purposes by Indigenous people is required for the ESA.

Indigenous people may use lands for various traditional activities, such as hunting, fishing, trapping, berry picking and plant gathering for medicinal, cultural or household use, as well as cultural or spiritual ceremonies.

In assessing the temporal aspects of traditional land and resource use, note the frequency, duration and seasonal aspects of each activity. In assessing the spatial aspects of traditional land and resource use, note that some activities could be site specific (e.g., berry-picking areas) but others may not (e.g., hunting may extend over a broad area and temporal considerations may be more relevant).

Applicants must also refer to the assessment of the applicable biophysical element (wildlife and wildlife habitat, vegetation and fish and fish habitat) when considering traditional land and resource use.

Where confidentiality of the traditional land and resource information is a concern, this information may be provided in the following manner (in order of preference):

  • a traditional land use study in which the information is provided using a system of data classification to protect the confidentiality of site-specific details;
  • a traditional land use study with site-specific information blacked out; or
  • a summary of the traditional land use study, including the methodology and proposed mitigation.

Alternatively, applicants may ask permission to file the study confidentially, in accordance with the criteria set out in s. 60 of the CER Act.

Social and Cultural Well-Being

Filing Requirements

Guidance

1. Describe the socio-cultural setting of the study area, indicating the:

  • predominant cultural and Indigenous communities;
  • demographic features of the local population and workforce; and
  • prevalent socio-cultural concerns of residents, families and workers in the study area.

2. Provide an overview of the predicted socio-cultural effects on the local community from the project.

3. Describe the predicted interactions of project construction, operations, and maintenance workforces with the local community, residents and businesses.

4. Describe any mitigative measures to address identified effects.

5. Where residual effects have been predicted, identify whether those residual effects would be likely to act in combination with the effects of other physical facilities or activities and expand on the matters described above as appropriate.

Socio-cultural effects on local communities may arise from various sources, including:

  • an increase in temporary or permanent residents to an area;
  • location of construction camps within, beside or near local communities;
  • a significant increase to, or uneven distribution of, personal income at the community level; and
  • disruptions to cultural traditions and institutions.

The potential effects from the sources listed above may include:

  • stresses on community, family and household cohesion;
  • alcohol and substance abuse; or
  • illegal or other potentially disruptive activities.

The identification and evaluation of potential effects must:

  • be conducted at the community level rather than the individual level to protect the privacy of individuals; and
  • include engagement with local, regional and Indigenous social and cultural service providers, agencies and institutions as appropriate.

The local community could include:

  • more than one inhabited area within the study area; and
  • more than one cultural group within an inhabited area.

Human Health

Filing Requirements

Guidance

1. Describe and quantify:

  • the project-related activities, toxic components, nuisances and environmental changes that could potentially be sources of adverse human health effects; and
  • the potential human receptors of these effects.

2. Where the project could create air, water or noise emissions or effluent discharge levels that meet local, provincial, territorial or federal guidelines (e.g., CCME Guidelines, AER Directive 038, AUC Rule 012), yet public concerns regarding human health effects have been raised, provide a description of the public concerns and how they would be addressed.

3. Where the project could create health effects, summarize how these effects would be mitigated.

4. Where it is reasonable to assume there could be a potentially high or significant risk to human health from the project, provide a human health risk assessment.

5. Provide a description of any predicted visual or other aesthetic effects of the project on residents or other potentially affected persons or users in the study area.

6. Where residual effects have been predicted, identify whether those residual effects would be likely to act in combination with the effects of other physical facilities or activities and expand on the matters described above as appropriate.

Applicants must consider the potential for effects to human health to determine the level of assessment required. For example, where the project may cause nuisance-related health concerns, applicants must summarize the effect, outline mitigation measures to minimize the effect (e.g., regular road watering to reduce dust), and give appropriate details of analytical procedures used (e.g., a source and release assessment, exposure assessment, dose response assessment or risk characterization).

Quantification of sources of health effects and potential human receptors must consider:

  • ambient conditions;
  • distances to edge of RoW, nearest residences, schools and other public institutions;
  • modelling and prediction of environmental conditions during construction and operations at the above distances; and
  • distance to where predicted conditions would meet any applicable standards and populations within that radius.

Identifying and evaluating potential human health effects must include engagement with local, regional, Indigenous, provincial or territorial, and federal health service providers, agencies and institutions, as appropriate.

Applicants must consider the potential effects of the project on the health of susceptible groups, such as:

  • local residents, landowners and tenants;
  • the elderly and children; and
  • others who may regularly use the study area such as recreationalists, hunters and trappers.

Applicants must also consider how the project may affect the health of those using traditional areas for hunting, trapping, fishing, berry picking, and medicinal plant collection. This consideration must be linked with the applicant’s assessment of traditional land and resource use.

As the definition of human health includes consideration of mental and social well-being, applicants must also consider any adverse emotional or social stressors potentially resulting from the project, including:

  • concern for public safety from construction or operations-related accidents or malfunctions; or
  • disruption of normal, daily living activities.

Where a particular project emission or effluent discharge level falls below or within applicable limits, additional mitigation may not be required. However, where the change may be substantial (even if within set limits) due to local or regional circumstances or the extent of the change, the applicant must provide any other additional mitigation to minimize pollution and human health risks.

A visual impact assessment must consider and describe factors such as, but not limited to:

  • whether landforms, vegetation cover and other landscape features screen or visually absorb the project;
  • how the project will compare with other nearby built features;
  • identification of view points and areas from which the project will be visible;
  • views affected by the project; and
  • the extent to which views are obstructed by the project.

Applicants must clearly link this portion of their assessment to those sections of their assessment that consider the biophysical elements affecting human health (e.g., Acoustic Environment or Water Quality and Quantity).

Consult Health Canada for information on human health impact assessments and to access The Canadian Handbook on Health Impact Assessment.

Health indicator data is available from Statistics Canada.

Infrastructure and Services

Filing Requirements

Guidance

1. Describe the existing local and regional infrastructure in the study area, including:

  • railways;
  • roads, highways and their traffic usage levels and patterns;
  • pipelines, water mains and sewage lines;
  • navigable waterways;
  • existing power lines; and
  • any other potentially affected facilities.

2. Describe the existing local and regional services in the study area and the predicted effects on those services. Include an assessment of effects to:

  • accommodation, including camping facilities;
  • recreation;
  • waste disposal;
  • police;
  • fire-fighting;
  • ambulance; and
  • health care services.

3. Describe any need for government and applicant expenditures for new or expanded services or infrastructure, arising out of project-related effects.

4. Describe any mitigative measures, including applicable plans, to address identified effects.

5. Where residual effects have been predicted, identify whether those residual effects would be likely to act in combination with the effects of other physical facilities or activities and expand on the matters described above as appropriate.

The assessment must consider and, where possible, quantify how project construction and operation activities may affect local or regional infrastructure and services, such as:

  • housing;
  • educational facilities;
  • essential and emergency services (fire, police, ambulance, hospital) including the standard of service provided (e.g., response time);
  • recreational requirements;
  • transportation; and
  • utilities including water, sewer, waste disposal, electricity.

Effects related to the above-noted factors must be assessed from the perspectives of both:

  • the project’s needs for infrastructure and services (e.g., to meet workers’ needs for housing or transportation); and
  • the project’s effects on local infrastructure and services, and consequent effects on local residents (e.g., project effects on availability of housing for local residents or on traffic flows and delays to the local population).

Applicants must consider any local and provincial or territorial guidelines regarding emergency services or requirements for heavy load vehicles and construction access permits.

Navigation and Navigation Safety

Filing Requirements

Guidance

1. Provide a listing of proposed navigable waterways that the pipeline corridor will pass in, on, under, over, through or across, the proposed crossing methodology, and the contingency plans for horizontal directional drilling.

2. Provide a listing of ancillary project components that will be constructed in, on, under, over, through or across navigable waterways to support the pipeline project (e.g., temporary and permanent bridges, marine terminal).

3. Provide a listing of potentially affected waterway users and describe the engagement conducted with waterway users and Indigenous communities regarding navigational use, issues raised, and how issues have been addressed.

4. Describe project effects on navigation and navigation safety.

5. Describe proposed mitigation measures to address project effects on navigation and navigation safety.

Where there are waterways which are considered navigable and there are project effects on navigation and navigation safety, Applicants must assess who navigates the affected waterways (e.g., tourism groups, guide outfitters, anglers, kayaking organizations), the type of craft, the ability to notify waterway users of impediments, the project effects/impacts on safe and reliable navigation and identify mitigation measures to minimize or eliminate project effects to navigation and navigation safety.

Employment and Economy

Filing Requirements

Guidance

1. Describe the local and regional employment situation in the study area.

2. Describe any local or regional training and employment development plans.

3. Describe the ability of local and Indigenous residents and businesses to provide labour services, equipment, supplies and other contracting needs during construction, operation and maintenance of the project.

4. Describe plans to encourage local and Indigenous employment, procurement and contracting opportunities.

5. Describe any training programs the applicant is supporting to enhance employment opportunities for local and Indigenous residents.

6. Provide an estimate of the anticipated levels of local and regional economic participation in the project in comparison to the total project requirements (e.g., number of workers and total dollar value of contracts).

7. If the project has the potential to directly affect local, regional, provincial, territorial or federal government revenues from tax levees or other means during construction and operation, provide a quantitative assessment of the potential effects.

8. Where residual effects have been predicted, identify whether those residual effects would be likely to act in combination with the effects of other physical facilities or activities and expand on the matters described above as appropriate.

The assessment must include a quantitative and qualitative review of:

  • local and regional employment and unemployment levels;
  • education and skill levels;
  • local and regional economic conditions; and
  • direct government revenues expected to be generated by the project.

Construction and operations workforce numbers and contract values must be provided, where possible, on a month-to-month basis through the construction phase of the project and on a yearly basis for the operations phase of the project. For smaller projects, only an estimate of the construction workforce and the full-time operations workforce is required.

The assessment must describe those situations when the project may directly or indirectly create economic hardship or the displacement of workers or businesses, including any mitigative measures to address these effects.

If the applicant has prepared an economic benefits plan or has entered into specific cooperation agreements with communities or Indigenous peoples, the applicant should provide a summary of the employment, training and business commitments made.

Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Filing Requirements

Guidance

1. Describe the Indigenous and Treaty rights of the potentially affected Indigenous peoples in the project area.

Applicants should describe for each potentially impacted Indigenous community, to the extent known or based on information that is available, the Indigenous and Treaty rights of the Indigenous peoples in the project area that may be impacted by the proposed project.

The information provided on the Indigenous rights in the project area should be sufficiently detailed to allow the Commission to understand and assess the potential effects of the proposed project on the Indigenous rights and, as appropriate, consider relevant mitigation measures.

The amount of detail and depth of information relating to potential project effects on Indigenous rights should be commensurate with the scale and scope of the project, including its potential effects. Projects that are smaller in scale, have the potential for limited, low magnitude effects or do not require new lands may not require highly detailed information.

Applicants should engage with potentially impacted Indigenous communities to seek to understand the Indigenous rights as they are asserted by rights-bearing communities. Applicants should review the CER Early Engagement Guide, and should engage with potentially impacted Indigenous communities as soon as is practicable in the project’s development in order to allow adequate time to discuss and understand each community’s understandings, practices and assertions related to their rights. Where one or more Indigenous communities have not provided information, or where information is considered confidential, applicants should provide a rationale for the approach taken. Where Indigenous communities do not wish to provide information, applicants are encouraged to continue sharing information and analysis with the Indigenous communities on the potential effects of the project, and to use available public sources of information to support the assessment.

Applicants may also wish to consult other relevant government departments or Indigenous organizations that may have information or expertise.

Applicants are encouraged to discuss with Indigenous communities their views on how to reflect the assessment of impacts on rights in their application.

2. Describe how Indigenous and Treaty rights are exercised or practiced in the project area.

In describing the ways in which Indigenous rights are exercised, applicants should engage directly with Indigenous peoples to seek to understand and document the values, practices, activities, customs or traditions that are connected to and are undertaken in relation to the rights identified.

Applicants may also wish to consult and document any relevant secondary information sources that may assist in describing the exercise of Indigenous rights in the project area.

When engaging with Indigenous communities, or based on any secondary information sources, applicants should provide sufficient detail to describe how general or specific rights are being exercised, such as:

  • the quality, quantity or distribution of resources involved in or required for exercise of the rights (for example, any preferred wildlife or plant species utilized, the cultural, ceremonial or nutritional uses or importance of resources, and perception of quality, cultural connections to a particular species);
  • access to the resources used or required to exercise the rights (for example, physical access or travel ways to access culturally important or harvesting locations, and distance from communities of residence); and
  • locations or areas of cultural importance where Indigenous rights are exercised.

Applicants should identify and incorporate within their effects assessment, preferably beginning at the assessment design phase, those valued components that are most relevant for an assessment of the project’s potential effects on the exercise of Indigenous rights. Applicants should also engage with Indigenous communities to ascertain whether any Indigenous knowledge is being provided in confidence, and if so, ensure that confidential Indigenous knowledge can be appropriately protected from unauthorized disclosure. Applicants should strive to reach agreements or utilize existing community protocols with respect to Indigenous knowledge.

Applicants should also describe how other information in their application, including information about traditional land and resource uses, effects on heritage resources, or environmental, health, social and economic conditions in the project area, are relevant to and have been used to describe the practice of Indigenous rights. Applicants may therefore, as appropriate, refer to information throughout their application or consolidate required information in order to adequately describe how rights are exercised in the project area, to reduce duplication of information.

3. Describe the context in which the Indigenous and Treaty rights are exercised or practiced in the project area.

When describing the rights exercised in the project area, and the ways in which they are being exercised, consider the cultural, social, and bio-physical context in which the exercise of the right occurs. Proponents should engage with Indigenous communities to seek to understand, document and address wherever possible, the underlying values, traditions and cultural practices associated with the exercise of rights that may be affected by the project, where such information has been provided or is not considered confidential.

This context may consider, as appropriate to the project, matters such as:

  • relevant circumstances that may affect traditional Indigenous practices, such as the availability of lands or resources for the exercise of rights in the project area; or,
  • how the Indigenous communities’ cultural traditions, laws and governance systems inform the manner in which they exercise their Indigenous rights.

4. Describe the project’s potential effects on the exercise or practice of Indigenous and Treaty rights in the project area.

Applicants should, based on available information, describe the potential adverse effects of the project’s components and physical activities on the exercise or practice of Indigenous rights of each of the potentially impacted Indigenous communities, including (but not limited to):

  • effects on the quality, quantity or distribution of resources involved in or required for exercise of the right;
  • effects on access to the resources used or required to exercise the right;
  • effects relating to timing and seasonality of the exercise of rights;
  • effects on specific areas of cultural importance where Indigenous rights are exercised; and
  • effects on an Indigenous community’s cultural traditions, laws and governance systems that inform the manner in which they exercise their Indigenous rights.

Where communities have identified or provided thresholds or criteria that describe levels or conditions relating to their ability to meaningfully exercise Indigenous rights, applicants should, as applicable:

  • describe the threshold or criteria, including quantitative or qualitative measures; and
  • describe how those thresholds or criteria have been used, as applicable or appropriate, in the assessment.

5. Describe the measures to be implemented by the applicant to avoid, reduce or eliminate potential adverse effects of the project on the exercise of Indigenous and Treaty rights. Also describe any measures that would enhance or support the exercise or practice of Indigenous rights in the project area.

6. Where there may be any residual effects, after mitigation measures are implemented and that are related to the project, describe the nature and extent of these, including their contribution to any potential cumulative effects.

Describe those measures that, when implemented for the project, would avoid, reduce or eliminate the potential adverse impacts of the project on the exercise of Indigenous rights. These measures must clearly describe how the applicant intends to implement them.

Applicants should ensure that they describe:

  • how the measures directly address the project’s potential effects on the exercise of rights;
  • the extent to which the measures will avoid, reduce or eliminate the potential adverse impacts of the project on the exercise of Indigenous rights; and
  • whether any residual effects of the project on the exercise of rights would remain after the measures are implemented.

Where provided, applicants should include specific mitigation suggestions or recommendations raised by potentially impacted Indigenous communities regarding the measures for the project that would address such impacts. Applicants should also describe any responses, as applicable, to the views provided by potentially impacted Indigenous communities.

Applicants should also consider measures that can be implemented in relation to the project that would support, improve or provide benefit to the exercise of Indigenous rights. Where such measures are described elsewhere in an application (such as measures relating to employment, procurement, or monitoring), this should be referenced or consolidated. Where such measures are proposed, applicants should describe how these measures have been discussed with potentially impacted Indigenous communities, including any comments or recommendations made by Indigenous communities, or any agreements entered into that specify benefits or compensation measures relating to the project.
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