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Reality Check

RC-28: How Are Manitoba Environmental Assessment and Reviews Conducted?

Date Posted: December 9, 2011

Manitoba's Environment Act defines "assessment" as " evaluation of a proposal to ensure that appropriate environmental management practices are incorporated into all components of the life cycle of a development."

Development is defined as "any project, industry, operation or activity, or any alteration or expansion of any project, industry, operation or activity which causes or is likely to cause..." significant environmental effects, including social, economic, and cultural effects.

Developments are divided into three classes in the Classes of Development Regulation. Regardless of the class of development, proponent of any development must submit a proposal and obtain a valid license.

Additionally if the proposed development potentially affects federal responsibility (navigation, fisheries, first nations, national parks, endangered species, etc.) or uses federal funds an environmental assessment will be required as outlined in the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA). When both a provincial and federal assessment are required, a co-operative assessment can be carried out in accordance with applicable legislation, regulations, and the "Canada-Manitoba Agreement on Environmental Assessment Cooperation." The Minister must be satisfied the assessment at least equivalent to that be required under the Manitoba Environment Act.

There are five to seven basic steps to an EIA in Manitoba:
  1. Proposal (mandatory) - A one-page proposal must be filed by the proponent in under Licensing Procedures Regulation (MR 163/88), and a contact person from the Environmental Assessment and Licensing Branch (EALB) is assigned.
  2. Screening (mandatory) – The director EALB, through the contact person assigned, determines if any additional information is required, including environmental protection management plans, or further technical or environmental studies. If an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is required, guidelines for the preparation of an EIS for the project are compiled, usually through a public review process.
  3. Public/TAC Notification & Review (mandatory) – The proposal documents, and EIS guidelines must be submitted to the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) (representatives from provincial and federal government)s. Public notification through advertisement(s) in the local newspaper or radio, etc, are required. The advertisement must state: a proposal has been received, there is an opportunity and a timeframe to provide comments and/or objections, along with where a copy of the proposal, and EIS guidelines if applicable, can be found in public registry files located the province.
  4. EIS Review (optional, only if EIS required) – If it is determined that an EIS is required, then after draft guidelines are compiled and reviewed, final guidelines which incorporate public and TAC comments are issued. The proponent must then submit an EIS in accordance with final guidelines, and this EIS is in turn reviewed again.
  5. Public Hearings (optional) – The Minister calls upon the Clean Environment Commission (CEC) to hold public hearings where, in the Minster's opinion, a development proposal interests or may affect a large number of Manitobans. The Minister provides terms of reference to the CEC, who provides advice and recommendations to the Minister based on the hearings. The final decision on the development proposal rests with Manitoba Minister of Conservation.
  6. Summary Report (mandatory, unless CEC is requested to make report to Minister) – A summary report of public and TAC comments on the proposal or/and EIS is prepared and placed in public registry. If a license is issued then a draft license is first submitted to TAC for review.
  7. Licensing Decision (mandatory) - At the conclusion of the assessment process, the EALB Director, or Minister in the case of a Class 3 development, decides to either issue or refuse a license. The proponent must be notified of the decision, including the reason(s) for refusal if applicable. If a license is issued, the proponent is required to abide by the terms and conditions contained in the license. A license decision can be appealed within 30 days of the decision.
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