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Petitcodiac River, New Brunswick

Petition: No. 12

Issue(s): Environmental assessment and federal provincial relations

Petitioner(s): Lake Petitcodiac Preservation Association

Date Received: 8 June 1998

Status: Completed

Summary: The petitioner requested an investigation of environmental issues in the Petitcodiac River Valley of New Brunswick resulting from actions of Environment Canada and Fisheries and Oceans Canada. The Association alleged that the federal ministers responsible for these departments had acted improperly in obtaining provincial agreement for the trial opening of the Petitcodiac River Gates. The petitioner requested a full-scale, independent environmental assessment of the proposed trial gate opening.

Federal Departments Responsible for Reply: Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Petition

[Summary only—No consent given to publish petition or reply in full]

The petitioners requested an investigation of environmental issues in the Petitcodiac River Valley of New Brunswick resulting from actions of the federal departments of Environment and Fisheries and Oceans. The petitioners alleged that the federal ministers had acted improperly in obtaining provincial agreement for the trial opening of the Petitcodiac River Gates and that federal public servants had misrepresented information relating to the gate opening experiment and the environmental screening associated with it. The petitioner also requested a full-scale independent environmental assessment of the proposed trial opening and that concerned citizens be able to respond to it.

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Summary of Replies

[Summary of reply only—No consent given to publish petition or reply in full]

The Minister responded that both Fisheries and Oceans and Environment Canada were dedicated to the conservation and sustainability of Canadian resources and take appropriate steps to fulfill this responsibility. The Petitcodiac River situation was a good example of an opportunity to restore the productivity of an aquatic system in support of several valuable fisheries resources. The Province had invited both federal departments into to join this endeavour through a Memorandum of Understanding, and both had participated on terms acceptable to the Province.

The Minister indicated that the public servants involved with various aspects of this project had carried out their duties in a responsible and professional manner. They continue to promote open and objective discussions and exchanges with all stakeholders, and to consider all available information in a scientific and objective way. The Minister also stated that the authors of the 19 May 1998 screening report had exercised their duties with the same scientific objectivity that would be expected of any expert assessing a project under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA) process, and that the public, environmental, social, economic, health and safety concerns had been adequately considered.

The Minister also stated that federal departments had voluntarily undertaken an environmental assessment screening of the trial gate opening, without prejudice to the proceedings in the Federal Court, and had followed the process outlined in the CEAA. Extensive consultations were carried out prior to the preparation of the screening report for the proposed 1999 trial gate opening. The 1999 Environmental Assessment screening report would then be released to the public to allow concerned citizens an opportunity to comment.

[dated 11 December 1998]