On February 1, 2019, AUMA President Barry Morishita was part of a delegation that met with a group of independent Canadian senators in Edmonton to discuss Bill C-69. The Bill has been under debate in the Senate since December 12, 2018. There is an opportunity to make amendments before the House of Commons votes on the Bill, likely during this session of Parliament.
The Bill contains amendments to three different pieces of legislation: The Impact Assessment Act, the Canadian Energy Regulator Act, and the Navigation Protection Act. Currently, there is much opposition to the Bill, especially from the oil and gas industry. For municipalities, the Navigation Protection Act has been a key piece for AUMA’s advocacy work with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) and the Western Canadian Municipal Associations (WCMA).
AUMA’s key issues with Bill C-69:
- Municipalities are concerned these amendments will directly impact municipal land-use planning, construction and maintenance of infrastructure. The proposed Bill could result in more municipal infrastructure projects falling under federal review. This could add additional financial and administrative costs to municipal operations.
- Municipalities need more clarification on a new requirement to consider and protect Indigenous traditional knowledge and the consultation process required with Indigenous communities.
- It is unclear how the new process will work for adding navigable waters to the list of waters subject to extra oversight. It is unclear “who” can make this request, local citizens, Indigenous communities, or environmental non-governmental organizations.
- Clarification is needed regarding the definition of navigable water and how “reasonable likelihood” will be defined in relation to the water body being used for navigation. For example, many waterways in Alberta are seasonal, the frequency of navigation needs to be considered and clarified.
- More work needs to be done on the categorization of “Minor Works,” “Major Works,” “works other than a minor work.” These categories create a complex series of requirements.
- FCM has recommended that Transport Canada conduct a review of existing Minor Works to assist municipalities to better understand the requirements.
- Although the impact on the resource development sector does not directly affect local governments, the industry is important to economic prosperity and quality of life in many local communities.
AUMA has been working with FCM and WCMA on advocating for change and seeking clarification. WCMA sent a joint letter to the Minister of Transport in May 2018, and another letter to the Senate of Canada in October 2018. FCM provided its submission to the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development in April 2018. FCM's submission echoed several similar points as WCMA and AUMA.
AUMA continues to follow this issue closely and will provide updates as information comes available.