NWT Regulatory Regime

The Northwest Territories Devolution Act includes improvements to the regulatory regime governing resource development in the Northwest Territories.  These changes involved amendments to three existing pieces of legislation: the Territorial Lands Act, the Northwest Territories Waters Act and the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act.

Most of these regulatory changes came into force on March 25, 2014 when the Northwest Territories Devolution Act received Royal Assent, and became law. The remaining changes will come into force gradually over several years to help ensure a seamless transition.

See also: Coming into Force

Highlights of Immediate Changes to NWT Regulatory Regime

Fines

Prior to Devolution/ NO LONGER IN FORCE

LAND:

  • Maximum fine of $5000 for contravening a regulation or failing to comply with a term or condition of a permit under the Territorial Lands Act
  • $300 fine for trespassing under the Territorial Lands Act
  • Maximum fine of $15,000 and/or up to six months in prison for a land use offence under the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act
  • Maximum fine of $2000 and/or up to six months in prison for failing to assist an inspector/ hindering an inspector/ providing false information to an inspector
  • No increased fines for subsequent offenses

WATER:

  • Maximum fine of $100,000 for a violation respecting the use of water or deposit of waste
  • Contravening Type A license: maximum fine of $100,000 and/or one year in prison
  • Contravening Type B license: maximum fine of $15,000 and/or six months in prison

After Devolution/ IN FORCE NOW

LAND:

All fines increased to a maximum of $100,000 and/or six months in prison for a first offence and a maximum of $200,000 and/or six months in prison for a second or subsequent offence


WATER:

  • Fine increases to a maximum of $250,000 for a first offence and a maximum of $500,000 for a second or subsequent offence
  • Contravening Type A license: maximum of $250,000 and/or one year in prison for a first offence and a maximum of $500,000 and/or one year in prison for a second or subsequent offence
  • Contravening Type B license: maximum of $37,500 and/or six months in prison for a first offence and a maximum of $75,000 and/or six months in prison for a second or subsequent offence
Life of Project Licensing

Prior to Devolution/ NO LONGER IN FORCE

Type A and B water licenses could only be issued by a Land and Water Board or Water Board for a maximum of 25 years

After Devolution/ IN FORCE NOW

  • Type A and B licenses may be issued for the anticipated duration of the project, unless the project falls under a particular class of undertakings (outlined in regulations), in which case, the license will be issued for a maximum of 25 years
  • The Board must give public notice of its intention to consider renewal of a license or an amendment to the conditions of a license
Time Limits: Land

Prior to Devolution/ NO LONGER IN FORCE

No legislated provision for time limits on the MVEIRB review process in place in the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act

After Devolution/ IN FORCE NOW

WHEN THERE IS NO PUBLIC HEARING:

Board time:

  • 9 months, once a proposal is referred to an environmental assessment, to complete the assessment and report on it (not including proponent time)

Decision time:

  • The Federal Minister has 3 months to distribute a decision to all affected parties regarding an environmental assessment
  • Designated regulatory agency has 3 months to make a decision whether to adopt a MVEIRB recommendation, with or without modifications, refer it back to the Board or reject it

WHEN THERE IS A PUBLIC HEARING:

Board time:

  • 16 months to complete and report on an environmental assessment (not including proponent time)

Decision time:

  • Federal Minister has 5 months to distribute a decision to all affected parties regarding an environmental assessment
  • Designated regulatory agency has 5 months to make a decision whether to adopt a MVEIRB recommendation, with or without modifications, refer it back to the Board or reject it

ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT REVIEW:

Board time:

  • 3 months after an environmental impact review is ordered, must appoint members to a review panel and complete the panel’s terms of reference

Panel time:

  • Report must be submitted within 15 months of the members’ appointments and establishment of the terms of reference (not including proponent time)

Decision time:

  • Federal Minister/designated regulatory agency have 6 months to make a decision regarding the review panel’s report

OTHER INFORMATION:

  • Should circumstances warrant, time limits may be extended by the Minister/Governor in Council
  • Time limit provisions apply to environmental assessments and environmental impact reviews underway on the day that the time limits come into force; starting at zero, time limits would be counted starting from the day that the time limit provisions came into force
Time Limits: Water

Prior to Devolution/ NO LONGER IN FORCE

No legislated provisions for time limits on a Land and Water Board or Water Board review processes and decision points in the Northwest Territories Waters Act

After Devolution/ IN FORCE NOW

The following time limits will be incorporated into the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act:

Board time:

  • 9 month time limit for decisions on water licenses (not including proponent time)

Decision time:

  • If a public hearing for a water license is required, the responsible Minister will have 45 days to approve or deny the issuance of the license.
  • Should circumstances warrant, the 45 day time limit may be extended.
  • If no decision to approve/deny a license has taken place within the prescribed or extended time limit, the license is deemed approved.
Ministerial Policy Direction

Prior to Devolution/ NO LONGER IN FORCE

Under the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act, the Minister may give policy direction to the Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board

After Devolution/ IN FORCE NOW

The Minister may give policy direction to all boards under the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act: Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board and its regional panels (pre-restructuring), Mackenzie Valley Environmental Impact Review Board and the Gwich’in and Sahtu Land Use Planning Boards

Jurisdiction of the Supreme Court of the Northwest Territories

Prior to Devolution/ NO LONGER IN FORCE

Federal Court had concurrent jurisdiction with the Supreme Court of the Northwest Territories in the interpretation and application of the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act

After Devolution/ IN FORCE NOW

Exclusive jurisdiction of the Supreme Court of the Northwest Territories in interpreting and applying the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act

Consultation

Prior to Devolution/ NO LONGER IN FORCE

Federal Minister must consult with Tlicho Government before ordering an environmental impact review or joint review of a project, if the proposed development is to be carried out wholly or partly on Tlicho lands

After Devolution/ IN FORCE NOW

Federal Minister must consult with Tlicho Government, Gwich’in First Nation or Sahtu First Nation before ordering an environmental impact review or joint review of a project, if the proposed development is to be carried out wholly or partly on any of those respective lands

 

Highlights of Upcoming Changes to NWT Regulatory Regime

 

Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board

Prior to Devolution/ STILL IN FORCE NOW

  • Current structure, processes and administration of Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board remains in force
  • Regional land and water panels remain in place

After Devolution/ CHANGES TO BE PHASED IN

Spring 2015

Mackenzie Valley land and water boards will be restructured:

  • Regional panels (Gwich’in, Sahtu and Wek’èezhìi Land and Water Boards) eliminated.
  • Single, consolidated Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board for the entire Mackenzie Valley
  • Guaranteed representation on MVLWB from Delcho (North Slave and South Slave), Gwich’in, Sahtu and Tlicho regions
Regional Studies

Prior to Devolution/ STILL IN FORCE NOW

 

After Devolution/ CHANGES TO BE PHASED IN

Spring 2015

The Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development will be given the ability to appoint committees or individuals to conduct regional studies on the effects of existing and/or future development projects.

Development Certificates and AMPs

Prior to Devolution/ STILL IN FORCE NOW

After Devolution/ CHANGES TO BE PHASED IN

Spring 2016

Enforceable development certificates and administrative monetary penalties will be introduced to ensure compliance with all measures and conditions placed on a development during permitting/licensing.

Inspectors

Prior to Devolution/ STILL IN FORCE NOW

 

After Devolution/ CHANGES TO BE PHASED IN

Spring 2016

Designated inspectors will receive enhanced powers and abilities to ensure compliance with the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act

Additional Changes to be Phased In

Glossary of terms:

Type A licence: Type A licenses are generally issued for larger projects. Water license classification for projects, as defined by criteria set out in Schedules IV-VIII in the NWT Waters Regulations.

Type B licence: These are generally issued for smaller projects. Water license classification for projects, as defined by criteria set out in Schedules IV-VIII in the NWT Waters Regulations.

MVEIRB: Mackenzie Valley Environmental Impact Review Board

Proponent time: Any time when an applicant is required to provide information, enter into compensation agreements or where the proposed use of waters is part of a development that is undergoing an environmental assessment or an environmental impact review.