The Wataynikaneyap Power Phase 1 project, New Transmission Line to Pickle Lake, and Phase 2 project, Connecting 17 Remote First Nation Communities, transmission projects are undergoing environmental assessments under the Ontario Environmental Assessment Act. The Canadian Environmental Assessment Act will also apply for those portions of the projects on reserve land.
What are Environmental Assessments?
Apart from the regulatory requirements, an Environmental Assessment (EA) is an effective planning and environmental management tool that is used to predict, analyze and interpret the effects of a project on the environment and to identify the impact management measures that will be used to avoid or otherwise mitigate net effects. An EA is a process through which the potential environmental effects of a proposed project, or set of activities, can be predicted and managed in advance of carrying out the project. Through the process, the existing environmental features of the lands that will support the project are described in detail, possible environmental effects of the project are described, impact management measures are proposed to mitigate the possible environmental effects, and an assessment is made as to whether the project will cause net effects despite implementation of the identified impact management measures. An EA also serves the purpose to encourage decision makers to take actions that promote sustainable development and thereby achieve or maintain a healthy environment and a healthy economy.
Meaningful and respectful Aboriginal engagement is an important part of EAs that can improve the environmental studies and the overall project. Identifying and engaging with First Nation communities and other Aboriginal groups and traditional land based rights holders early in the process and throughout the EA to understand their concerns, gather traditional knowledge, and determine how the project may affect them and their homelands builds support for the Project and helps to identify and manage effects to both people and the environment.
For the Phase 1 and Phase 2 projects, the baseline and environmental effects studies proposed to be completed for the EA include the following:
- Natural Environment, including:
- Terrestrial environment, including vegetation, soils, wildlife and wildlife habitat;
- Aquatic environment, including fish and fish habitat;
- Air quality;
- Surface water, including hydrology and water quality; and
- Groundwater and geology.
- Human Environment, including
- Socio-economic conditions, including Aboriginal interests and human health, land and resource use, visual aesthetics, community, and recreation and tourism ;
- Cultural heritage landscapes, cultural heritage resources, including archaeology, and built heritage ; and
- Built environment (e.g., existing roads, buildings, etc.).
Courtesy of Nathalie Osipenko from the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change