The CER strives to build meaningful relationships with Indigenous peoples across Canada who might be affected by the facilities we regulate. Crown consultation is just one part of our relationship with Indigenous peoples. Where we have Crown consultation responsibilities, we will consult with Indigenous peoples early and throughout our review process. We tailor the scope and nature of our Crown consultation activities to the complexity of the proposed project and its potential effects, as well as the needs of affected Indigenous peoples.
The CER consultation with Indigenous peoples recognizes the ten Principles Respecting the Government of Canada’s Relationship with Indigenous Peoples and federal guidance on the duty to consult. See Canada.ca for more information.
What you need to know
Find out about the CER’s consultation responsibilities when a project could affect Indigenous or Treaty rights.
Understand how and when we decide to review a project, be it for a small change to an existing facility or a proposed major energy activity.
Learn about the steps we take when we consult with Indigenous peoples throughout the life of a proposed project.
See what the CER expects companies to do when they engage with Indigenous peoples who may be impacted by a project.
When Crown consultation occurs
The duty to consult and, when required accommodate, is triggered when there is potential impact to Indigenous or Treaty rights and where a decision of the Government might adversely affect the exercise of those rights.
The scope of consultation is proportionate to:
- the nature or extent of the Indigenous or Treaty rights involved and
- the potential impact on those rights.
The CER has Crown consultation responsibilities as part of project reviews for new pipeline, power line, or offshore renewable energy projects, as well as for activities it regulates throughout the life of a project.
Project reviews under the Canadian Energy Regulator Act (CER Act)
The CER reviews various types of proposed energy projects: from a single meter station addition on an existing pipeline to proposals for new pipelines with a total new right-of-way up to 75 kilometres (km) in length. We also review power line projects with a voltage of less than 345 kilovolts (kV) and less than a total of 75 km of new right-of-way, as well as certain offshore renewable projects outside provincial waters.
Project reviews under the Impact Assessment Act
Large designated pipeline, offshore renewable, and power line projects are jointly reviewed by the CER and the Impact Assessment Agency (IAA).
Large designated projects include:
- projects with more than 75 km of new pipeline right-of-way
- projects with more than 10 offshore wind turbines
- international power line projects with a voltage of 345 kV or more that require more than 75 km of new right-of-way
For these projects, the IAA will lead the project review, including Crown consultation during the review process. As the regulator responsible for oversight over the entire life of a federally regulated project, the CER will support the IAA throughout its review and become the lead for ongoing Crown consultation if the project is approved.
How Crown consultation is conducted
Before a company submits its application to the CER, it will formally notify us that it is planning a project. We will then reach out early to Indigenous peoples who might be affected by a project. The CER will identify Indigenous communities whose rights and interests may be impacted by a project.
To do this, the CER looks at multiple sources of information, including:
- information submitted by companies in their notices and applications
- publicly available information about the traditional territories of Indigenous peoples
- information from other federal departments, if necessary
The CER will reach out to Indigenous communities to understand the potential impacts on their rights and interests, to explain the CER’s regulatory process and how to participate in it, and to provide information on the CER’s participant funding program. Where it is possible that an issue or concern can be addressed early in the review process, CER staff will offer to assist. This may involve arranging meetings with the company or considering collaborative options for resolution.
The CER encourages Indigenous communities to cooperatively work with the company to resolve issues and concerns. If matters remain unresolved, communities are encouraged to bring them forward to a review process where the matters can be considered by CER commissioners.
All relevant issues and concerns brought forward by Indigenous communities will be considered by CER commissioners with the intent that issues and concerns will be mitigated, or where necessary accommodated, to the extent possible. To ensure CER commissioners have all the information needed to address issues and concerns raised, Indigenous communities should participate in available review processes. More information about the CER’s approach to Crown consultation can be found in this letter from our Chief Executive Officer.
If there are issues or concerns raised that are outside of the mandate of the CER to address, the CER will work with other federal departments to determine how they can be addressed.
If a project is approved and the company proceeds to construction, the CER will continue to engage with Indigenous communities as part of our lifecycle oversight role and in support of building meaningful relationships.
Company engagement with Indigenous peoples
The CER expects companies to engage early with Indigenous peoples who might be affected by a project and continue to engage when designing a project and throughout the life of that project, if approved.
Companies should provide information to those same peoples about the proposed project or activity and about how the project or activity might impact their rights and interests and address those concerns through changes to the design of the project or activity.
During operations of a facility, companies are expected to keep Indigenous peoples who might be affected by a project informed of operation and maintenance activities. These expectations are outlined in the Early Engagement Guide, the CER’s Filing Manual and the Onshore Pipeline Regulations.
The CER, Energy Projects, and Indigenous Peoples
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