EA Reform Summit

In November, the Ministers of Environment and Climate Change, Fisheries, Transport, Climate and Natural Resources were given the mandate to “immediately review Canada’s environmental assessment processes.” We expect an announcement on the process of that review in summer 2016.

In anticipation of that review, West Coast Environmental Law organized a federal EA Reform Summit in Ottawa. From May 1-3, 2016, EA experts, practitioners and academics gathered from across Canada to discuss, crystallize their thinking, weigh options and seek to find common ground on solutions to key issues in federal EA in preparation for participation in the mandated review of EA processes.

The Summit consisted of plenaries and workshops led by leading issue-area experts. Below are the outcomes of the Summit, along with a list of the workshops and background reading for each.

Summit Proceedings

The Executive Summary sets out twelve interdependent pillars of a visionary new environmental assessment regime for Canada, distilled from the key principles and recommendations that flowed from the Summit. (version française)

For the entire proceedings: Anna Johnston, Federal Environmental Assessment Reform Summit Proceedings  (2016: West Coast Environmental Law).


Click here for the summit agenda.


Next Generation Environmental Assessment

Speakers: John Sinclair, Meinhard Doelle, Mark Winfield and Merrell-Ann Phare

Reading: Robert B. Gibson, Meinhard Doelle, A. John Sinclair, "Fulfilling the Promise: Basic Components of Next Generation Environmental Assessment," JELP, 27 (forthcoming 2016).

Meinhard Doelle, "CEAA 2012: The End of Federal EA as We Know It?,"JELP, 1 (2012).

Mark Winfield, "A New Era of Environmental Governance in Canada" (2016: Metcalf Foundation).


1. Sustainability Assessment

Leads: John Sinclair and Meinhard Doelle (with Anna Johnston)

Reading: Robert B. Gibson, Meinhard Doelle & A. John Sinclair, "Fulfilling the Promise: Basic Components of Next Generation Environmental Assessment," JELP, 27 (forthcoming 2016).

West Coast Environmental Law, "A Better Approach to Environmental Reviews: A Sustainability Assessment and Democratic Decision-Making Act," (2015).

West Coast Environmental Law, "Environmental Assessment for a healthy, secure and sustainable Canada: Statement of principles," (2012).

West Coast Environmental Law, "Environmental Assessment Law for a Healthy, Secure and Sustainable Canada: A Checklist for Strong Environmental Laws," (2012).

Meinhard Doelle, "The Lower Churchill Panel Review: Sustainability Assessment Under Legislative Constraints," (August 14, 2014).

2. Strategic EA and Regional Assessments

Lead: Stephen Hazell, with Cheryl Chetkiewicz

Presentation: Cheryl Chetkiewicz & Bram Noble, "Regional Strategic Environmental Assessment: Opportunities and Challenges in northern Ontario and across Canada," (Presentation, May 2016).

Reading: Office of the Auditor General, "Departmental Progress in Implementing Sustainable Development Strategies,2015 Reports of the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development (2015).

Cheryl Chetkiewicz & Anastasia M. Lintner, Getting it Right in Ontario's North: The Need for a Regional Strategic Environmental Assessment in the Ring of Fire [Wawangajing], (2015: Wildlife Conservation Society Canada and Ecojustice Canada).

Courtenay Fidler & Bram Noble, "Advancing Regional Strategic Environmental Assessment in Canada's Western Arctic: Implementation opportunities and challenges," (2013) JEAPM 15:1.

Bram Noble, "Cumulative Effects Research: Achievements, Status, Directions and Challenges in the Canadian Context," (2015) 17 JEAPM 1.

Bram Noble et al., "Strategic environmental assessment opportunities and risks for Arctic offshore energy planning and development," (2013) Marine Policy 39 at 296.

Bram Noble and Kelechi Nwanekezie, "Conceptualizing strategic environmental assessment: Principles, approaches and research directions," (2016) EIA Review (forthcoming).

Hugh Benevides, Denis Kirchoff, Robert B. Gibson & Meinhard Doelle, "Law and Policy Options for Strategic Environmental Assessment in Canada," (2009).

3. Follow-up, Adaptive Management, Monitoring and Enforcement

Leads: Melissa Gorrie and Karen Campbell

Primer: Melissa Gorrie and Karen Campbell, "Workshop on Adaptive Management, Follow-up, Monitoring and Enforcement," (2016).


Nathalie J. Chalifour, "Case Comment: A (Pre)Cautionary Tale about the Kearl Oil Sands DecisionThe Significance of Pembina Institute for Appropriate Development et al. v. Canada (Attorney-General) for the Future of Environmental Assessment."

Brenda Heelan-Powell, "A Model Environmental and Sustainability Assessment Law: Annotated Version," (2013) Environmental Law Centre.

Arlene J. Kwasniak, "Use and Abuse of Adaptive Management in Environmental Assessment Law and Practice: A Canadian example and general lessons," (2010) 12 JEAPM 4 at 425.

Sarah Njoki Macharia, "A Framework for Best Practice Environmental Impact Assessment Follow-up: A Case Study of the Ekati Diamond Mine, Canada," A Thesis Submitted to the College of Graduate Studies and Research in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts in the Department of Geography University of Saskatchewan Saskatoon (2005). 

Martin Z.P. Olszynski. "Adaptive Management in Canadian Environmental Assessment Law: Exploring uses and limitations," (2010) JELP 21:1.

4. Multijurisdictional Assessments

Leads: Meinhard Doelle, Chris Tollefson and Jason McLean

Reading: Meinhard Doelle, Chris Tollefson and Jason MacLean, "Multi-Jurisdictional and Polycentric Environmental Assessment Workshop: A Once-in-a-Generation Law Reform Opportunity," (2016).

5. Public Participation

Lead: John Sinclair, Pat Moss and Gary Schneider 

Primer: Pat Moss, Gary Schneider and John Sinclair, Public Participation in Next Generation EA – A Primer (2016).

Background Reading:

A. John Sinclair & Alan P. Diduck, "Reconceptualizing public participation in environmental assessment as EA civics" (forthcoming 2016) Environmental Impact Assessment Review.

A. John Sinclair, Gary Schneider & Lisa Mitchell, "Environmental impact assessment process substitution: experiences of public participants," Impact Assessment and Project Approval (2012) 30:2 85-93.

A. John Sinclair, Alan P. Diduck and Morgan Vespa, "Public Participation in sustainability assessment: essential elements, practical challenges and emerging directions,"Handbook of Sustainability Assessment (2015: Edward Elgar Publishing, UK and US).

6. Nation-to-Nation Relationships and UNDRIP

Leads: Merrell-Ann Phare, Michael Miltenberger and Larry Innes

Powerpoint: Merrell-Ann Phare, Michael Miltenberger and Larry Innes, "Collaborative Consent: Considering a framework for building nation-to-nation relationships in environmental assessment…" (2016).

ReadingCollaborative Consent: A Nation-to-Nation path to partnership with Indigenous Governments, (2015: Prepared for the Minister of Natural Resources by: Ishkonigan, Inc, The Phare Law Corporation & North Raven.

7. Cumulative Effects Assessment

Lead: Peter Duinker

Reading: Peter N. Duinker & Lorne A. Greig, "The Impotence of Cumulative Effects Assessment in Canada: Ailments and Ideas for Redeployment" (2006) Environmental Management, 34:2, 153-61.

A. John Sinclair, Meinhard Doelle & Peter Duinker, "Looking Up, Down, Sideways: Reconceiving Cumulative Effects Assessment as a MindsetEnvironmental Impact Assessment Review (2016).

8. Assessing Climate in EA

Leads: Chris Tollefson and Anthony Ho

Reading: Anthony Ho & Chris Tollefson, "Sustainability-based Assessment of Project-related Climate Change Impacts: A Next Generation EA Policy Conundrum," (2016). 

Additional Reading

Lee Doran, "Comprehensive Integrated EA for Canada? Some notes on who should be doing what to get from there to here," (2016).

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