CEAR researchers receive grant for work in Canada’s Arctic

Environmental assessment (EA) has a long and influential history in Northern Canada. It was the 1977 Mackenzie Valley Pipeline Inquiry, led by Thomas Berger, which established an “international standard EA in the Arctic and elsewhere, and created expectations about the potential for EA. Much of the current EA regulatory system in the North developed from comprehensive land claims agreements, and is administered through a variety of regional boards and agencies. Through co-management boards and committees, EA in Canada’s Arctic is arguably more, and perhaps better, integrated into regional resource development planning than it typically is in the south.

This is a collaborative research project developed in consultation with the Nunavut Impact Review Board (NIRB). Led by Kevin Hanna at UBC in partnership with Bram Noble at the University of Saskatchewan, the work has two parts. The communication part will examine the best ways to communicate marine related impacts to communities and EA stakeholders to improve participation, including identifying the information routinely needed. The information part will identify key baseline information needs related to marine activities, and assess options for meeting these.

We are working toward two key outcomes of value to Northern communities, agencies and industry. First, the research will work to produce a community tool kit that can help provide information about the routine and expected impacts of marine related operations that can occur from development. Second, it will create a heightened understanding of gaps in baseline information that affects the assessment of marine-related project applications, and consider longer-term options and feasibility for addressing them.

Our work seek to provide a research-based approach to addressing needs identified by the NIRB for helping to advance consultation, information communication and information collection to support an enhanced understanding of the marine related impacts considered in Nunavut’s EA process.

Funding for this project is provided by Irving Shipbuilding International through the Nunavut Research Institute.