Put "Impact" in the 
Impact Assessment Act

Now's Canada's chance to protect future generations with strong laws for reviewing pipelines, dams and mines


Make your call to Minister McKenna today

Right now in Ottawa the environment committee is making critical, lasting decisions about how the federal government will review pipelines, mines, dams and other projects that impact the environment.

The Impact Assessment Act introduced as part of Bill C-69 – is meant to restore public trust in the environmental review process. But, it doesn't go far enough to protect the lands, waters and air that Canadians cherish.

Let's tell Minister McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, that we need an Impact Assessment Act that goes the distance.

Here are some talking points for your call.

Introduce yourself as a voter who wants an Impact Assessment Act that will go further to protect the environment and our grandchildren. 

Tell Minister McKenna:

  • All potentially harmful development projects must go through an impact assessment, not just the worst-of-the-worst.
  • We need to achieve sustainability for the environment and for the well-being of all Canadians. 
  • The new law must uphold the United Nations Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
  • The government shouldn't be able to forego environmental assessments at its own discretion.
  • Canadians, "like me" want assurance that our feedback on projects is taken seriously and can actually influence decisions.

The Site C dam has been personally devastating for BC's Peace Region residents Ken and Arlene Boon, who are losing 387 acres of their own land overlooking the Peace River and Cache Creek, including 185 acres of cultivated farmland. It's all being expropriated to make way for the dam.

Read their story 

The Site C Dam in B.C.’s Peace Region represents many failings to many different people. By flooding 83 kilometres of a sensitive northern ecosystem, it will destroy local wildlife habitats and flora. It will decimate traditional hunting and fishing grounds of Local Treaty 8 First Nations. It’s a budgetary fiasco, at a cost of $10.7 billion and growing. And it has been personally devastating for Peace residents like Ken and Arlene Boon, who are losing 387 acres of their own land overlooking the Peace River and Cache Creek, including 185 acres of cultivated farmland – all being expropriated to make way for the dam.

Yet, in December 2014, Site C passed its environmental impact assessment (IA) and got the green light to move forward. How could a project with so many drawbacks get off the ground? The answer lies partly in the flawed nature of Canada’s IA process, which environmental groups and Canadians are asking the government to improve as part of a new proposed bill, C-69. The once-in-a-generation bill is being finalized right now by the Liberal government.

What’s the number-one thing the Boons would like to see change for the better? True and meaningful public consultation. When the Site C environmental assessment got underway in August 2011, three phases of “public comment” were announced, and the Boons were eager to attend and voice their concerns. But it quickly became clear this was lip service and little more. Most sessions were drop-in style open houses, with reps speaking one-on-one to citizens. Ken had been expecting open mic Q&As.

Ken and Arlene Boon say they're losing their farm due to a flawed assessment process

Tell Ottawa they've got it right when the 
Impact Assessment Act:


Makes sustainability a “bottom line” condition for assessments 

Right now the federal government is making critical decisions about the fate of key laws that protect Canada's environment: the Impact Assessment Act, Canadian Energy Regulator Act, the Canadian Navigable Waters Act and the Fisheries Act. 

For the next few weeks, the government is listening to Canadians about what we want for Canada's future. You can help make sure there are strong laws in place that protect our land, air and water; keep future generations healthy; and make it possible for Canada to respond to climate change and meet Paris Agreement commitments. 

Copyright  © 2018. All rights reserved. Photos: Sang Trinh / CC BY-2 / flickr; Emma Gilchrist / desmog; Icons: Retinaicons, Alberto Miranda, A. Maslennikov, Z. Najdenovski, Vectors Market, Freepik

Environmental laws Canadians can be proud of

With no formal obligation to address public concerns, the IA went forward, conducted (perplexingly, to Ken) by BC Hydro itself. “When you have the proponent doing that work, it’s going to show a bias,” he says.

In August 2013 came a joint review panel: three impartial experts charged with reading the desk-straining, 26,000-page environmental impact statement and holding 30 days of public hearings. The hearings were fast-paced and “often you could tell there needed to be more time,” says Ken. Experts supplied by BC Hydro testified with no cross-examination. “There’s really no accountability,” he adds.

In its final report, the panel suggested BC Hydro hadn’t adequately demonstrated the need for the project to move forward. Yet move forward it did, receiving approval October 14, 2014.

Assesses all potentially harmful projects

Upholds the United Nations Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Ensures bigger-picture regional and strategic assessments happen and that assessment results are applied to decision making

Requires meaningful public participation

Makes all project decisions transparent and accountable

Clearly the IA process lacks teeth, and Ken hopes this will change. “To save everybody from going through a long, drawn-out expensive process, there should be some early markers that can stop a project before too much expense and anguish goes into it,” he says, adding, “In addition to looking at the impacts and issues of a certain project, I feel cumulative impacts, and natural capital value, must be added to the mix and considered.” 

This might have saved northern B.C.’s only fruit-and-vegetable-producing farmland, currently set to be washed away by the Site C reservoir. It might even have stopped the project in its tracks.

Friends of the Earth Canada, 200 - 251 Bank Street, Ottawa, Ontario K2P 1X3

Doesn’t permit government to forego assessments at its own discretion