Backgrounder - Nunavut Planning and Project Assessment Act

The Northern Jobs and Growth Act fulfills an outstanding legislative obligation of the federal government resulting from the 1993 Nunavut Land Claims Agreement. Specifically, the Agreement commits the federal government to developing legislation for land use planning and environmental impact assessment.

Under the provisions of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement, the Nunavut Planning Commission (‘Commission’) and the Nunavut Impact Review Board (‘Board’) were established in 1996 as institutions of public government. The bill will confirm the establishment of these bodies in legislation, describe in detail the processes under which they will operate, and establish a more streamlined system for environmental assessments and land-use approvals.

The proposed legislation is the result of comprehensive consultations with the Government of Nunavut, Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated, the Nunavut Planning Commission and the Nunavut Impact Review Board.

Provisions of the bill:

The proposed legislation will:

  • Continue the functioning of the Commission and the Board and clearly define and describe their powers, duties and functions, including how their members are appointed. It will also clearly define the roles and authorities of Inuit, federal and territorial governments;
  • Establish timelines for decision-making in the land use planning and environmental assessment processes to create a more efficient and predictable regulatory regime;
  • Define how, and by whom, Land Use Plans will be prepared, amended, reviewed and implemented in Nunavut;
  • Describe the process by which the Commission and the Board will examine development proposals; and
  • Harmonize the assessment process for transboundary projects by providing for review by joint panels and providing an opportunity for the Board to review and assess projects outside the Area that may have an adverse impact on the Nunavut Settlement Area;
  • Provide for the development of general and specific monitoring plans that will enable both governments to track the environmental, social and economic impacts of projects;
  • Establish effective enforcement tools to ensure terms and conditions from the plans and impact assessment process are followed; and
  • Streamline the impact assessment process, especially for smaller projects, and provide industry with clear, consistent and transparent guidelines, making investments in Nunavut more attractive and profitable.