15 a. Annex “F” Interim Environmental Assessment Process
Operational First Nations have the power to make environmental laws, until these are developed the First Nation will follow the terms in their Individual Agreement – Annex “F” Interim Environmental Assessment Process.
INTERIM ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT PROCESS
1. In this Annex,
a. “CEAA (1992)” means the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, S.C. 1992, c. 37 [repealed, 2012, c. 19, s. 66], as it read immediately prior to its repeal;
b. “CEAA 2012” means the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012, S.C. 2012, c. 19, s. 52, as amended from time to time.
2. This Annex sets out the environmental assessment process that will apply to projects on First Nation Land until the enactment and coming into force of First Nation Laws on that subject.
3. The First Nation shall conduct an assessment process in respect of every project on First Nation Land consistent with:
a. CEAA (1992); or
b. CEAA 2012.
4. Notwithstanding clause (3), the First Nation is not required to conduct an additional environmental assessment if the First Nation decides to adopt an environmental assessment that Canada conducts in respect of that project.
5. If the First Nation elects to use a process consistent with CEAA (1992), the following applies:
a. When the First Nation is considering the approval, regulation, funding or undertaking of a project on First Nation Land that is not described in the exclusion list as defined in CEAA (1992), the Council of the First Nation shall ensure that an environmental assessment of the project is carried out in accordance with a process that is consistent with that of CEAA (1992). Such assessment shall be carried out as early as practicable in the planning stages of the project before an irrevocable decision is made.
b. The First Nation shall not approve, regulate, fund, or undertake the project unless the Council has concluded, taking into consideration the results of the environmental assessment, any economically and technically feasible mitigation measures identified as necessary during the assessment, and any public comments received during the assessment, that the project is unlikely to cause any significant adverse environmental effects or that any such effects are justifiable under the circumstances.
c. If the First Nation approves, regulates, funds, or undertakes the project, the First Nation shall ensure that all mitigation measures referred to paragraph (b) above are implemented at its expense or it is satisfied that another person or body will ensure their implementation. The Council shall also consider whether a follow-up program, as defined in CEAA (1992), is appropriate in the circumstances and if so, shall design a follow-up program and ensure its implementation.
6. If the First Nation elects to use a process that is consistent with CEAA 2012, the following applies unless it is inconsistent with any amendments made to CEAA 2012 in the future or any legislation that replaces CEAA 2012:
a. If the project is a “designated project” as defined in CEAA 2012, the First Nation shall conduct an environmental assessment of that project in accordance with a process that is consistent with that of CEAA 2012.
b. If the project is a “project” as defined in section 66 of CEAA 2012, the First Nation shall not carry out the project on First Nation Land, or exercise any power or perform any duty or function conferred on it under the Land Code or a First Nation law that would permit the project to be carried out, in whole or in part, on First Nation Land, unless the Council of the First Nation determines that the carrying out of the project
i. is not likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects as defined in CEAA 2012; or
ii. is likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects and the Council decides that those effects are justified in the circumstances.
7. All processes shall be conducted at the expense of the First Nation or of the proponent of the project.
8. The provisions in this Annex are without prejudice to any environmental assessment process that the First Nation may develop in accordance with the Act and the Framework Agreement for incorporation in First Nation laws respecting environmental assessment.
15 b. General Terms of Reference for Environmental Assessments
1. Background & Definitions
The Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA) was developed to minimize or avoid adverse environmental effects before they occur and to incorporate environmental factors into project decision making early in the project planning process.
All projects on Reserve require the completion of an Environmental Assessment (EA) unless specifically set out in the Exclusion List Regulations of CEAA. This term of reference addresses general considerations for the completion of an EA. Specific projects (e.g. sand and gravel permits, leases, wastewater treatment systems, logging permits, and complex projects) may require additional investigations beyond those outlined here. The appropriate Lands and Trust Services (LTS) Environmental Specialist, LTS Natural Resources Officer, or Pubic Works Government Services Canada (PWGSC) engineer should be consulted early in the project process to ensure that the planned EA meets all specific project requirements.
The following are key terms required to properly interpret this Terms of Reference:
An integral part of the EA process that determines the extent of the EA investigation and the appropriate level of detail and complexity.
Valued Ecosystem Component (VEC)
Ecosystem components that are considered important or valuable, which must be considered during the EA process.
Any change a project may cause in the physical environment including any changes to listed wildlife species and their critical habitat or residences, as defined by SARA. Effects of changes to; health and socio-economic conditions, physical and cultural heritage, structures, sites, or things of historical archaeological, paleontological, or architectural significance, and the current use of lands and resources for traditional purposes by aboriginal persons require consideration.
Species at Risk Act (SARA)
An EA must ensure that the potential for environmental effects on a species at risk and its habitat, as defined by SARA, have been adequately assessed.
Changes to the environment that are caused by an action being considered in a project in combination with other past, present, and future human actions.
The elimination, reduction, or control of the adverse environmental effects of a project. Mitigation may include compensatory measures for damage to the environment.
Accessory activities include physical works that must be completed to allow the principal project to proceed (e.g. access roads, drilling, test pits, surveys, etc.)
Project proponents who are unfamiliar with CEAA should review guidance information available at http://www.ceaa.gc.ca/default.asp?lang=En&n=D75FB358-1 and at http://www.ceaa-acee.gc.ca/default.asp?lang=En&n=DACB19EE-1 (Updated link coming soon). Information on the consideration of SARA in an EA is available in “Environmental Assessment Best Practice Guide for Wildlife at Risk in Canada, 1st Edition, Feb. 27, 2004″. This document can be found at: http://www.cws-cf.ec.gc.ca/publications/AbstractTemplate.cfm?lang=e&id=1059 (Updated link coming soon).
2. Environmental Assessment Scoping
Scoping is a critical first step in the EA. Scoping will determine the limits of the EA and will focus future analysis on the relevant issues and concerns. The key elements in the scoping process which must be considered in all EAs are:
- Determine project undertakings and activities that must be assessed as part of the EA.
- Determine what factors and issues need to be considered in the EA.
- Determine who will be involved in the EA, their interests and concerns.
2.1 Environmental Assessment Scoping Report (Capital Projects Only)
An EA scoping report is required for all funding services capital projects. An EA scoping report is not required for LTS projects unless specifically directed by your INAC environmental or natural resources specialist.
An EA scoping report is a stand-alone document which summarizes the elements identified in Section 2.
This report includes the project description, environmental setting, significant environmental issues, valued ecosystem components (VECs), and completed and planned EA investigations. This report is completed during the feasibility stage of a project and will be used in the assessment of project viability.
Where multiple sites are being considered during the feasibility stage, environmental restrictions and impacts at each site must be considered and incorporated into the site selection process. The following are to be addressed in the EA scoping report.
General Terms of Reference for Environmental Assessments
Provide a summary description of the project including construction, operation, decommissioning, and other activities expected during the life of the project. Project proponent contact information including organization, name, mailing address, telephone number, and email address (if available) are required. Provide a list of information sources used.
Provide plans showing the geographical location of the project with latitude and longitude, the proposed location(s) of the project within the context of the Reserve and an overall preliminary plan for the project. Include environmentally significant features (e.g. water bodies, forests, significant elevation changes, species lunges, known habitats, etc.) Where appropriate and readily available, inclusion of First Nation nomenclature for place names, flora, fauna, etc. should be considered. Copies of topographic maps and aerial photos/mosaics should be provided where available.
Provide a summary description of the existing environment in the project area including landscape, waterbodies, archeology, natural resources, and environmental uses (e.g. wildlife habitat, natural resource harvesting, residential properties, etc.). Indicate the areas potentially affected by the project. Outline known environmentally significant historical uses and develop a list of VECs for the project. Socio-economic conditions should be described if potentially impacted by environmental changes caused by the proposed project.
Indicate known and suspected environmental effects of the project on listed VECs.
Identify any cumulative effects that are anticipated on the basis of initially available information. Include effects likely to result from the project in combination with other pre-existing developments and/or in combination with developments that will be carried out as a direct result of this project.
Describe the scope of work for the planned EA. Document site assessments completed to date. Identify further investigations which are required to address situations where environmental effects are unknown or to determine appropriate mitigation activities.
A determination must be made as to the likely presence of wildlife, birds, aquatic life, flora and/or habitat at risk in the project area. This determination must be made using relevant data base lists, range maps, local knowledge (where available), and other existing information on species known to occur in the project area. Where the range of a species at risk overlaps with the proposed project area, existing information sources must be checked and documented to determine whether actual or potential habitat or residences for these species are present.
1.1.6 Public Consultation
Document consultation with other government departments and agencies. Provide contact information. Outline any additional consultation planned with the community, public, or other government departments and agencies as part of the EA.
1.1.7 Accessory Activities
Accessory activities planned during the design stage must be assessed (e.g. geotechnical, surveys, etc.). Identify activities causing significant environmental impacts on VECs and outline mitigation measures that will be implemented. Note: Accessory activities planned during feasibility and associated mitigation measures must be summarized in the feasibility stage proposal.
2 Environmental Assessment Study Report
An EA study report describes in detail, the environmental effects from construction, operation, modification, decommissioning, abandonment, malfunction, and cumulative effects on VECs. Proposed mitigative measures, including follow-up activities and their expected outcomes once implemented, are clearly identified. For capital projects the EA Study Report will usually be completed during the design stage and must be submitted as a stand-alone document. A capital project which triggers CEAA cannot be funded for construction without a screening decision by INAC based on the EA Study Report.
Provide a summary description of the project including construction, operation, decommissioning, and other activities expected during the life of the project. Project proponent contact information including organization, name, mailing address, telephone number, and email address (if available) are required.
Summarize the results and recommendations of studies carried out as part of the EA (e.g. geotechnical studies, water quality investigations, SARA wildlife & habitat surveys, archaeological investigations, survey results, fisheries studies, etc.).
Provide scaled plans showing the geographical location of the project with latitude and longitude, the location of the project within the context of the Reserve, and an overall site plan for the project. Include environmentally significant features (e.g. water bodies, forests, significant elevation changes, species ranges, known habitats, etc.). Where appropriate and readily available, inclusion of First Nation nomenclature for place names, flora, fauna, etc. should be considered. Copies of topographic maps and aerial photos/mosaics should be provided where available.
2.4 Environmental Setting
Provide a detailed description of the existing environment in the project area including landscape, water bodies, archeology, natural resources, and environmental uses (e.g. wildlife habitat, natural resource harvesting, residential properties, etc.). Indicate the areas affected by the project.
Outline known environmentally significant historical uses in the area of the project. Develop and/or update the list of VECs in the project area. Socio-economic conditions should be described if potentially impacted by environmental changes caused by the proposed project.
Where an EA scoping report has not been completed (e.g. projects completed for LTS) the likelihood of wildlife, birds, aquatic life, flora and/or habitat at risk in the study area must be determined using relevant data base lists, range maps, local knowledge (where available), and other existing information on species known to occur in the project area. Where species at risk are identified whose range overlaps with the proposed project area, existing information sources must be checked to determine whether actual or potential habitat or residences for these species are present in the project area.
Example information sources include: the Conservation Data Centre (CDC) for rare element occurrence records, Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC), the Species at Risk Public Registry for recovery strategies, action plans, and management strategies, and the Ministry of Sustainable Resource Managements Species and Ecosystem Explorer.
For all projects where potential interactions with species at risk have been identified, field surveys, consistent with published recovery plan strategies, will be required to determine whether individuals of species at risk, critical habitat, recovery habitat, or residences occur in the project study area.
2.5 Project Activities
Provide a detailed description of all potential project activities throughout the project life cycle including construction, operation, modification, decommissioning, abandonment, malfunction, and potential accidents.
Where environmentally responsible solutions have been incorporated into project development (e.g. energy efficient buildings, water conservation, alternative energy) describe expected environmental benefits. For more information see the Green Building Checklist available from LTS.
2.6 Environmental Effects
Verify significant environmental effects on VECs caused by project activities and quantify where possible.
Examples include but are not limited to: destruction of vegetation and habitat by construction equipment, damage to sites with cultural or archaeological significance, siltation of surface waters, sedimentation of lake bottoms and river beds, soil contamination through improper storage and disposal of waste products, emissions causing air quality and climate change impacts, release of chemicals to groundwater through accident or system failure, etc.
Verify any cumulative effects that are anticipated. Include effects likely to result from the project in combination with other pre-existing developments and/or in combination with developments that will be carried out as a direct result of this project.
Detail how environmental effects will be mitigated and show how the mitigation measures have been included in the design of the project. Applicable portions of the design and/or operation and maintenance information should be referenced in the EA report document (refer to specific design drawings where applicable) to confirm that mitigation measures have been incorporated.
Where a project causes interactions with species at risk, specific mitigation measures must be identified.
Mitigation strategies for species at risk are hierarchical with avoidance being preferred (e.g. timing, design/location change), followed by minimization through project modification or implementation under special conditions, and lastly, compensatory mitigation (e.g. replacement of lost habitat).
2.8 Permits & Approvals
Provide information on the status of required environmental permits and approvals necessary to undertake the project (e.g. rights of way, fisheries authorization, navigable waters, sand and gravel, and timber permits).
When available include correspondence and/or approvals from other Documentation government departments (e.g. Health Canada, Fisheries and Oceans, Environment Canada, B.C. Ministry of Water Land and Air Protection, BC Ministry of Sustainable Resource Management: Archaeology and Registry Services Branch etc.)
2.10 Public Participation
Document strategies used to assess project input from the First Nation & Consultation community and/or public. Identify how any concerns were addressed and/or mitigated.
Provide a narrative summary of the environmental effects associated with the proposed project. Make a determination of their significance (not likely significant or significant). For significant impacts, summarize proposed mitigation strategies and how they will reduce environmental effects. Quantify wherever possible.
Where follow-up is recommended, discuss planned follow-up activities. Include a table which shows VECs, project activities, environmental effects, mitigation measures, and reference to supporting documents. For VECs where impacts are found to be not likely significant ensure that justification is provided. Provide a recommendation regarding project viability based on environmental considerations.
Sample Environmental Assessment Study Report
Table of Contents
- INTRODUCTION1.1. Background
1.2. Scope of Assessment
1.3. Proponent/Consultant Contact Information
1.4. Information Sources
- SITE INFORMATION
- PREVIOUS STUDIES AND INFORMATION
- ENVIRONMENTAL SETTING
4.1. Physical Resources4.1.1. Topography
4.1.4. Surface Water
4.1.5. Groundwater4.2. Biological Resources
4.2.3. Species at Risk
4.3. Land Use
4.3.1. Historic Land Use
4.3.2. Natural Resources
4.3.3. Cultural Resources and Archeology
- PROJECT ACTIVITIES AND MITIGATION
- CUMULATIVE EFFECTS
- PUBLIC CONSULTATION & SUPPORTING DOCUMENTATION
- SUMMARY8.1. Summary Table
Maps & Plans
Design and/or Operation and Maintenance Documentation
Permits & Approvals
15 c. What is an Environmental Management Plan?
An Environmental Management Plan (EMP) is a statement of goals, actions, and strategies that a First Nation will pursue in meeting its obligations under the Framework Agreement and in maintaining or improving environmental quality on reserves. The Framework Agreement does not define or refer to an EMP. Rather, the need for EMPs was identified by First Nations, the Lands Advisory Board Resource Centre (LABRC), and federal agencies as they discussed methods of implementing the Framework Agreement. An EMP is a powerful expression of environmental governance of First Nations land, helping to fulfil the original spirit and intent of the Framework Agreement.
As noted in materials prepared by LABRC, the benefits of preparing an Environmental Management Plan include:
- Organizing environmental information from a variety of sources,
- Engaging the community in discussions of environmental issues and responses,
- Establishing a clear vision of a desired environmental condition, with associated plan goals and objectives,
- Forming a rigorous process that will reduce the First Nation’s environmental liability risk,
- Creating well-defined direction for the development of environmental laws, regulations, and policies,
- Communicating environmental priorities and work programs to staff, membership, and outside agencies,
- Improving coordination, efficiency and cost effectiveness of environmental actions.
The Framework Agreement and environmental management
The Framework Agreement empowers First Nations to undertake environmental management as part of their resumption of governance for reserve lands. In 2011, amendments to the Framework Agreement removed the requirement for First Nations and Canada to negotiate an Environmental Management Agreement before a First Nation could enact environmental laws. Free of this prerequisite, First Nations are now able to pass laws as well as implement other environmental management activities after ratifying their land codes.
When developing an environmental management plan under a land code, it is important to consider the following relevant sections of the Framework Agreement.
- A First Nation can develop laws (s. 18.1), including environmental laws (s. 23.1) and, in particular, laws on environmental protection and assessment (s. 18.2). Federal laws pertaining to migratory birds or endangered species are not affected by the Framework Agreement or a First Nation’s laws (s. 23.6);
- Each First Nation should have an environmental assessment and an environmental protection regime (s. 23.2), and these regimes will be implemented through First Nation laws (s. 23.4);
- First Nations, federal, provincial environmental regimes need to be harmonized (23.5). The First Nation will harmonize environmental protection with the province in which the First Nation is situated, where the province agrees to participate (s. 24.2);
- A First Nation with a land code in effect will develop an environmental protection regime, with the assistance of the appropriate federal agencies to the extent that they agree to participate (s. 24.1).
- If there is an inconsistency between the provision of a federal law respecting the protection of the environment and a provision in a land code or First Nation law, the federal provision will prevail (s. 24.4);
- The First Nation environmental protection standards and punishments will have at least the same effect as those in the laws of the province in which the First Nation is situated (s. 24.3). This is a so-called “meet or beat” clause, and applies to environmental protection laws, which deal with contamination;
- An environmental assessment process should be prepared within one year of a Nation becoming operational, with support of federal agencies and LAB (s. 25.1). The First Nation’s individual agreement should contain an interim environmental assessment process to apply until the First Nation’s regime is adopted (s. 25.2);
- Federal, provincial, and First Nations environmental assessment processes should be harmonized (s. 25.7). The First Nation’s environmental assessment process will be consistent with requirements of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (s. 25.3);
- The First Nation’s environmental assessment process will be triggered in appropriate cases where the First Nation is approving, regulating, funding or undertaking a project on First Nation land. The assessment will occur as early as possible in the planning stages of the project before an irrevocable decision is made (s. 25.4);
- The obligation of a First Nation to establish environmental assessment and environmental protection regimes depends on adequate financial resources and expertise being available to the First Nation (s. 27.1).
The Framework Agreement also contains other sections that provide more detail on environmental topics, particularly environmental assessment.
Content of an EMP
The content of an EMP will vary from community to community, though certain EMP elements should be included in every EMP. For instance, operational First Nations need to have laws and procedures for conducting environmental assessments and for preventing contamination of their lands. Environmental management, of course, includes far more than these two legal requirements.
The environmental planning “flower diagram” in Figure 1 has been used in discussions with operational and developmental First Nations, and in reports prepared by LABRC.
Figure 1. Environmental Management Plan Elements
A First Nation’s EMP may involve more or fewer elements than are shown in the diagram, but a comprehensive plan for managing environmental issues on First Nations land should consider each of the topics shown. As will be discussed in “Steps in preparing an EMP”, the content of the plan should be based on the issues facing a particular First Nations community.
Note that an EMP establishes why and how a First Nation intends to respond to a specified environmental topic; it does not necessarily resolve the issue. For example, the EMP may say that a law regulating soil deposit will be prepared, and describe the purpose and key components of a law. The law itself, however, would be developed separately and after the EMP has been adopted.
Steps in preparing an EMP
Each First Nation’s approach to preparing its EMP will be determined by the community’s particular circumstances. The topics to be studied, the methods used for developing the plan, and the level of community involvement will be established by the First Nation during the planning process.
The following steps in preparing an EMP are presented as guidance; they are not requirements.
Step 1. Project initiation–assemble the planning team.
Usually, the First Nation’s Lands Governance Director takes a lead role in overseeing the preparation of the EMP. An advisory committee of knowledgeable community members and staff should be involved in development of the plan, perhaps a lands committee or a group convened specifically to guide the EMP process. Consultants with specialties in environmental management are often hired to assist with the work, though a First Nation can rely on its staff to prepare the plan, or arrangements can be made with colleges or universities to provide student or instructor expertise. Legal counsel may be involved in a review of the EMP, to make sure it is consistent with the land code and other First Nation legal matters. Chief and Council, of course, are responsible for authorizing preparation of the EMP and for its approval and implementation.
Step 2. Collect and analyze information.
During the development of its land code, most First Nations will have conducted various studies, including various environmental investigations. For example, Environmental Site Assessments (ESAs) that are conducted during development of the land code, to determine whether contaminants are present on the reserve lands to be governed by a First Nation. Information from these ESAs should be reviewed during the EMP process, as should other studies dealing with water, soil, habitats, and pollutants, or plans dealing with present and future development on reserves. Traditional practices associated with environmental management should be included as information is assembled to support the EMP. If community members have expressed concern about environmental matters, those issues should be examined to determine how they should be addressed in the EMP.
Step 3. Identify environmental issues and responses.
Using information from previous plans, studies, and community input, the First Nation should identify environmental issues affecting communities and ecosystems, and the potential methods for resolving those issues. Potential responses to environmental issues include the development and implementation of:
- traditional ecological knowledge or practices,
- guidelines and Best Management Practices (BMPs),
- education and outreach,
- monitoring and reporting, and
- environmental laws and regulations (First Nation-specific laws or application of federal or provincial laws on reserves).
Depending on the issues facing a First Nation, it may be appropriate to meet with local, provincial, and federal government staff to discuss environmental issues of mutual concern, applicable laws and regulations, and potential collaboration in delivery of environmental management programs.
Step 4. Formulate environmental goal and objectives.
The EMP should articulate a goal describing desirable future environmental conditions on First Nations reserve land that could be achieved by implementing the EMP. The goal statement should be clear, simple, and inspirational. It should avoid technical jargon or lengthy descriptions. A series of specific objectives should follow the goal. The objectives are actions or outcomes that support progress toward achieving the environmental goal.
Step 5. Engage community in review of issues, responses, and goals.
The EMP will affect the lives of First Nation members and businesses, so those people should be involved in the design and content of the plan. After drafting the goal, objectives, issues, and responses, the community should be brought together to learn about the EMP and to comment on the draft materials. Participants should be asked to identify what environmental issues they perceive to be present on reserves, what responses to those issues they consider appropriate, and whether the goals and objectives are consistent with their views of a desirable future.
Step 6. Draft the EMP.
With an understanding of the issues and topics that need to be included in the EMP and the goals to be achieved by environmental management, a First Nation is ready to prepare the plan. The EMP may contain the following main sections:
a) EMP Introduction
b) Goals and Objectives
c) Environmental Issues and Responses (focusing on issues deemed important by the First Nation)
d) Implementation of the EMP
Attached to this guide is the title page and table of contents for the EMP prepared by the Matsqui First Nation, and land code First Nation located in the Fraser Valley of British Columbia. The Matsqui reserves include residential and industrial areas, farmland, forest, and riverfront land, and are crossed by highways and railways. The 56-page stand-alone EMP is accompanied by nine technical appendices that provide detail about responses to the environmental issues, and are several times longer than the plan itself.
The content of an EMP will be influenced by the environmental issues faced by a First Nation and the way the community chooses to respond to those issues. Regardless of conditions on reserves, however, the Framework Agreement requires that EMPs must contain descriptions of environmental assessment and environmental protection regimes. This requirement is consistent with the purpose of EMPs, because First Nations that have adopted Land Codes typically want to control the process of environmental assessment and to prevent future contamination of their lands.
An EMP will have several audiences, including First Nation members and staff, businesses, and other governments. To keep the EMP readable, the main body of the plan should be short. Detailed technical information should be placed in a separate section or set of appendices that can be accessed as needed. This approach prevents the main body of the EMP from becoming large and cumbersome.
Step 7. Review and revise the draft EMP.
The draft EMP should be subject to a thorough review by community members, businesses, and other governments. A community meeting or other method of engagement should be held to explain the content of the plan and to encourage members to discuss the document. Participants should be asked to comment on the clarity and completeness of the plan, and to confirm that the proposed responses to environmental issues are acceptable to the community.
First Nations are not required to provide copies of their EMPs to other governments. However, in the spirit and collaboration and harmonization (see s. 23.5 of the Framework Agreement), a First Nation may choose to circulate the draft EMP to regional offices of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) for comment. Depending on the contents of the plan, it may be appropriate to involve provincial or local government staff in the review. In managing environmental issues, First Nations often find it useful or even necessary to work with adjacent local governments. For instance, waste management, building inspection, or other services may be obtained from municipal or regional governments. Sharing the draft EMP helps to confirm a First Nation’s right to govern its reserve land and to build cooperative relationships among governments.
Comments received from participants in the examination of the draft EMP can often be used to revise and improve the document, creating a final draft of the plan.
Step 8. Adopt and implement the EMP.
When the EMP preparation team has considered the comments received and has made appropriate revisions, the final document should be conveyed to Chief and Council for approval. The method of approval may be determined by the First Nation’s land code.
EMPs should include a section on implementation, describing how the policies and actions in the plan will be executed. After the EMP has been approved, staff or other responsible parties identified in the plan should develop a schedule and strategy for implementation. The strategy should begin with a logical sequence of steps and actions. Annual budgets for implementing the EMP should be prepared, covering the costs of staffing, training, equipment, and supplies.
Costs and funding
First Nations are justifiably concerned about the costs of preparing and implementing an EMP. This section describes some of the considerations affecting the costs of preparing an EMP. The costs of implementation can be determined only after an EMP has been prepared.
The scope of work required to prepare an EMP, and the associated costs, are influenced by the following conditions of a First Nation community:
- Size (area, population). A larger land area typically implies that more environmental issues may need to be included in an EMP. Similarly, a larger population usually is associated with more human activity and potential environmental issues requiring action.
- Complexity of issues. First Nation land that has been subject to industrial or other development uses may face a complex array of environmental issues (contaminants, habitat loss, effects on hydrology or water quality, etc.). Lands with a natural landscape free of development may face fewer environmental issues.
- Previous studies conducted. If a Phase II or Phase III Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) was conducted before a land code was adopted, a First Nation will have useful information on the presence of contamination on its lands. If such studies were not conducted, then the First Nation may need to prepare ESAs as part of the EMP process. Note that Phase II and III ESAs can be costly, as sampling and laboratory analysis of soil, water, and air are typically required.
- Environmental services offered. If a First Nation already delivers environmental services, the EMP need not devote much attention to those specific topics. If, however, a First Nation offers few environmental services, then the EMP will need to develop new approaches to managing the associated environmental issues.
- Staff complement and expertise. If a First Nation’s staff are trained and experienced in environmental planning, then a greater proportion of tasks associated with EMP preparation can be conducted by the First Nation. If external consulting support is needed, higher hourly costs can be expected. The presence of trained and experienced staff can also aid in plan implementation.
- Amount of community involvement desired. Community meetings and outreach are necessary parts of the EMP process. These activities also can be expensive. The level of community involvement desired by a First Nation will influence the cost of preparing an EMP.
- Available funding. In some regions, INAC has released funds specifically for operational First Nations to prepare EMPs. This funding was temporary can cannot be anticipated to be available in the future. First Nations should plan on using their annual budgets for preparing EMPs. If other sources of funding can be identified, a First Nation may be able to afford a more detailed or in-depth EMP.
With all of the foregoing factors affecting the scope and cost of EMPs, each First Nation will need to prepare its own estimate of EMP costs, reflecting its circumstances and expectations. Based on estimates prepared by LABRC and the limited number of First Nations communities that have prepared EMPs, it may be possible to prepare an EMP for as little as $70,000 in communities facing few environmental issues. It is more likely that a First Nation would need $80,000 to $120,000 for a thorough EMP. If ESAs or other studies are needed to support the EMP, or for environmentally complex communities, costs could easily reach or exceed $250,000.
Proceeding with an EMP
The LABRC has noted that the preparing an Environmental Management Plan will generate a variety of benefits for operational First Nations. Any EMP will aid the First Nation in complying with its obligations under the Framework Agreement, create an organized framework for conducting environmental initiatives, and engage the community in environmental planning.
A First Nation that proceeds with environmental actions in the absence of an EMP runs the risk of having gaps and overlaps in environmental initiatives. Delivery of services could be inefficient and might waste scarce financial and staff resources. Environmental issues may not be clearly understood, and risk and liability would remain unmitigated.
An EMP helps to establish a First Nation’s rights to manage its lands, and reinforces the First Nation’s commitment to fully implement the Framework Agreement. A well-conducted EMP will create community support for environmental management, and will guide and improve the efficiency and effectiveness of governance activities of Chief, Council and staff.
The following are samples that First Nation have developed:
- Matsqui First Nation Environmental Assessment – See Attachment “M” – link coming soon.
- Semath EMP EOPS – July 24 2013 – See Attachment “N” – link coming soon.
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