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ARCHIVED – Participating in CER Hearings

It is important that the CER hear from the people who are directly affected by a proposed project. We may also hear from those who have information and expertise that could help the hearing panel understand more about a matter they are considering.

Can I participate in a facilities hearing?

If you wish to participate, you must apply and prove that are directly affected by a proposed project, or that you have relevant information and expertise that could help us learn more about the project. The CER’s Participation Guidance has more information.

Where can I see the CER’s Participation Guidance?

Can I participate in another type of hearing that is not for a facility?

To participate in a non-facility hearing—such as a toll hearing—you must apply to the CER and prove that you will be affected by its decision, or that your participation will help the CER make its decision.

How do I apply to participate in a hearing?

When applying to participate in a hearing, you need to provide details and information using an online Application to participate (ATP) form, which are set up for each individual hearing. You need to provide enough information for the CER to decide whether you should be allowed to participate, and how—as an intervenor, a commenter, or in another way.

The online application form guides you through all the steps to apply after you complete your initial registration. CER process advisors can also help guide you through the form.

How long will the Application To Participate form be available?

The CER decides the appropriate length of time to accept application forms for each hearing. The online system will not accept any forms past the deadline.

What happens if I do not submit a complete ATP form?

An incomplete application form could prevent you from participating.

If you do not show that you are directly affected or have relevant information or expertise, you will not be granted standing.

What if it is past the deadline and I still want to apply to participate?

If you do not meet the deadline to submit your ATP, you may be prevented from participating.

The CER will decide if it will allow you to apply late and whether you will be allowed to participate. Please contact the process advisor for your hearing to discuss how to submit a late application.

What happens after I apply to participate?

After reviewing the Applications to Participate and assessing them on a case-by-case basis, we will advise who has standing—who is allowed to participate and how. If you are directly affected, you will be allowed to participate. If you have relevant information or expertise, the Commission has discretion and may allow you to participate.

If you have questions on the CER hearing process or need help about a specific hearing, please contact the CER at 1-800-899-1265 and ask to speak to a process advisor.

What is standing and why do I need standing?

Standing—the ability to participate—allows people to make representations to or to be heard by the decision-maker before a decision or recommendation on an application is made.

What if the project falls under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012?

For those projects that require a CEAA 2012 environmental assessment, the CER will use the broader standing test set out in that act for determining who has standing for the purpose of the environmental assessment. This means the CER will grant standing to those people who are directly affected and to those people who have relevant information or expertise to provide information or comments on the environmental assessment.

How does the CER decide whether I am directly affected?

The CER considers the nature of your interest – whether you have a specific and detailed interest, or a general public interest. Examples of interests that could support participation are:

  • commercial, property or other financial interest (including employment)
  • personal use and occupancy of land and resources
  • use of land and resources for traditional indigenous purposes

In addition, the CER considers whether granting or refusing of a project application causes a direct effect on your interest. It looks at:

  • the degree of connection between the project and your interest
  • the likelihood and severity of harm you are exposed to (that is, how likely or probable is it and how serious the impact would be)
  • the frequency and duration of your use of the area near the project

How does the CER decide whether I have relevant information?

Generally, information would be relevant if it relates to issues to be determined in the proceeding. Often, those issues are set out in a list of issues the CER makes public to focus its assessment of an application.

The CER may consider:

  • the source of your knowledge (for example, local, regional or Indigenous)
  • the extent to which the information is within the project scope and related to the list of issues
  • how much value the information will add to the CER’s decision or recommendation

How does the CER decide whether I have relevant expertise?

An expert is a person who possesses special knowledge and experience going beyond that of the CER as the decision maker.

The CER may consider:

  • your qualifications (for example, you have specialist knowledge and experience)
  • the extent to which your expertise is within the project scope and related to the list of issues
  • how much value your information will add to the CER’s decision or recommendation

There will be times when it is clear that information from a person seeking standing will not be helpful to the CER—for example, if the information is not relevant to the issues to be determined. There may be instances where the CER already has expertise in a certain area, and may not need more help.

Where can I see past examples of the CER’s decisions on participation?

The CER’s decisions about participation are available on the public registry. Participants are usually identified within the body of any CER ruling or decision or named on the List of Parties (company and intervenors) and List of Commenters (those participants who may submit a letter of comment).

Here are a few examples of participation decisions:

What if I am not allowed to participate in the hearing?

Even if you don’t participate, you may still be able to attend and observe any oral portion of a proceeding. You may also opt to stream the hearing online from the CER’s website Transcripts of oral portions of a hearing, are also made available. You can also access documents filed in the proceeding through the CER’s public registry. You will also find the CER’s reasons for decision and recommendation reports on its website.

What if I am interested in participating in the assessment of a project that does not involve a hearing?

For projects that don’t involve a hearing, you may wish to share your views in a letter of comment. You will not have to complete an Application to participate form, but your submission should include information explaining how you are personally and directly affected or impacted, or what relevant information you want to provide. For examples of what information to provide, refer to the Participation Guidance.

Can I participate in the official language of my choice?

Yes! During a hearing, you can participate in the official language of your choice.

The Commission conducts both bilingual and unilingual hearings, depending on the language choices of the participants. In bilingual hearings, all documents issued by the Commission will be in both official languages. In a unilingual hearing, Commission documents may be issued in one language only.

The Commission’s bilingual staff are ready to help you participate throughout all stages of a hearing.

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