The Department of Lands has a coordinating role on behalf of the Government of the Northwest Territories for processes related to environmental assessment in the Mackenzie Valley under the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act and in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012 and the Inuvialuit Final Agreement.
These processes include:
- reviewing project applications during the preliminary screening process
- undertaking impact assessments
- consulting with Indigenous peoples and the general public
- building consensus among responsible ministers for decision-making with respect to the proposed project/activity.
Components of environmental assessments are completed by program-specific departments within the Government of the Northwest Territories and feed into one comprehensive project assessment managed and led by the Department of Lands. In general, the Project Assessment Branch within the Department of Lands coordinates the territorial government's technical input during the environmental assessment process. This information helps the Mackenzie Valley Environmental Impact Review Board, the Environmental Impact Review Board located in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region, and other regulatory boards across the Northwest Territories assess projects and make recommendations to government regarding proposed developments.
In consultation with other government departments that have responsibilities related to the project being assessed, the Securities and Project Assessment Division reviews and analyzes board recommendations to assist the Minister of Lands with ministerial decision-making responsibilities as outlined in the Mackenize Valley Resource Management Act or the Inuvialuit Final Agreement (depending on the location of the proposed development).
What is a project assessment?
A project assessment is a legislated planning and evaluation process. It is intended to ensure the environmental, social, cultural and economic well-being of residents and communities is protected from any significant adverse effects that may be caused by a development project. Project assessments consider the potential environmental and socio-economic impacts of a project before it begins to ensure that negative impacts can be adequately mitigated. If the project goes ahead, information gathered through the environmental assessment process is used to guide changes to the project's design that may help minimize impacts on the environment and people.