Early engagement is an opportunity for a company to involve and educate those who may be affected by a project. It is also a period when communication can be open and positive, when people can comment on and submit concerns about a project directly to a company. A company’s early engagement must be meaningful.
A chance to be involved from the start
Companies need to know how a project will affect the people living and working around it. Companies must also get to know these concerns before applying to the CER. Companies are expected to provide information and opportunities for those affected by a project to learn about a project and discuss their interests and concerns.
Early engagement is an opportunity to:
- learn about concerns as early as possible
- develop positive relationships
- address concerns about a project’s design, construction, and operations
- reduce the negative effects a project may have
Steps in the early engagement process
For some projects, the company notifies the CER of certain upcoming applications, at least four months in advance of certificate applications, and at least two months in advance of pipeline exemption order applications, unless otherwise authorized by the CER.
Based on the information in the project notification, the CER will make decisions about whether any CER-led engagement activities are needed with the public and Indigenous communities. Typically, the CER will design and implement engagement activities for certificate applications. Issues that are identified during CER-led engagement activities will be provided to the company and posted on the Regulator’s website. The input may also inform the design of the CER’s hearing process.
The CER will inform companies about the initial list of potentially affected Indigenous communities and its decision whether to conduct any CER-led engagement activities by issuing and publicly posting a receipt of project notification.
What we expect of companies
The CER’s expectations of a company’s engagement activities are in our Early Engagement Guide and the CER’s Filing Manual and Electricity Filing Manual. When a company applies to the CER, we evaluate whether engagement was meaningful, how the company used the information gathered during engagement, and how engagement will continue over the life of the project.
Meaningful engagement is:
- initiated as soon as possible
- clear, relevant, and timely
- accessible and inclusive
- shaped by input from those who might be affected
- responsive to needs, input, and concerns
Guidance in the Early Engagement Guide is for non-designated projects only. For designated projects, companies must follow guidance and processes developed by the Impact Assessment Agency for early engagement. Visit the Impact Assessment Agency at canada.ca for more information.
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