The following definition is taken from the website of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency:
“Environmental assessments (EA) support sustainable development by helping to eliminate or reduce a project's potential impact on the environment before it begins and ensuring that mitigation measures are applied once the project is initiated. EAs support informed decision making.”
When development projects are proposed they must undergo an environmental assessment in order to identify potential impacts on the environment and the organisms that live in it. The assessment identifies potential mitigation measures to reduce or eliminate identified expected impacts and predicts whether the measures will be successful in preventing adverse effects.
Federal Environmental Assessment
Recently, changes have been made to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. The Canadian Environmental Assessment Act 2012 (CEAA) provides the current legislative basis for federal environmental assessments. Projects that are actively undergoing assessment subject to the CEAA and those projects that have been assessed under the CEAA are found in the Canadian Environmental Assessment Registry Internet Site (CEARIS).
Under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, a Federal environmental assessment focuses on potential adverse environmental effects that are within federal jurisdiction, including:
- fish and fish habitats;
- other aquatic species;
- migratory birds;
- federal lands;
- effects that cross provincial or international boundaries;
- effects that impact on Aboriginal peoples, such as their use of lands and resources for traditional purposes;
- changes to the environment that are directly linked to or necessarily incidental to any federal decisions about a project.
For more information about the CEAA, review the Act, and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency’s Guidance Materials.
Provincial Environmental Assessment
Policies and legislation concerning environmental assessments vary from province to province. Information about environmental assessments under provincial jurisdiction in the four Atlantic Canadian provinces can be found in the links below. The provincial website links also include related legislation and regulations, as well as lists of pending or completed assessments.
Newfoundland and Labrador
Prince Edward Island