Evidence, science, experience to date, and analysis supporting Project List entries and thresholds

Petition: 459

Issue(s): Compliance and enforcement; Environmental assessment; Natural resources; Science and technology; Transport

Petitioner(s): Canadian organizations

Petitioner location(s): Ottawa, Ontario; Vancouver, British Columbia; Toronto, Ontario

Date received: 25 August 2021

Status: Completed—Response(s) to petition received

Summary: The petition seeks information on the prescribed categories of projects and the thresholds for different categories to be included in the Physical Activities Regulations (“Project List”) under the Impact Assessment Act. The petition maintains that the federal approach to determining project categories and thresholds has not been transparent. Therefore, the petition argues, it is not possible to determine the extent to which these categories and thresholds are based on science, evidence, experience to date, or analysis as required by legislation. As a result, according to the petition, thousands of undertakings that may adversely affect areas under federal jurisdiction are excluded from the Project List and are not subject to the Impact Assessment Act.

The petition specifically requests evidence, information on science and experience to date, and analysis held by several federal departments and agencies pertaining to the categories and thresholds. According to the petition, releasing this information to the public is key to regaining public trust in the federal impact assessment process and avoiding the impression that political considerations have affected whether projects are included in the Project List.

The petition asks for details on the scientific, technical, and engineering evidence and analysis that supported the exclusion of various projects and categories from the Project List, particularly those related to energy, natural resources, public highways, and railways. It also requests information on the evidence used to set the threshold limits for determining which projects qualify for the Project List. Additionally, the petition asks for information on actions taken by the Office of the Chief Science Advisor of Canada to ensure that government science pertaining to the setting of Project List entries and thresholds is made fully available to the public.

Federal departments/organizations responsible for reply: Environment and Climate Change Canada; Impact Assessment Agency of Canada; Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada; Natural Resources Canada; Transport Canada