Environmental Assessments

Res #: 34-02A
Number: 34
Year: 2002
Midterm: No
Expired: Yes
Responses Received: No
Departments: Saskatchewan Environment

Resolution No. 34-02A 

WHEREAS, many projects require environmental assessments; and 

WHEREAS, the environmental reviews can be a lengthy process; and

WHEREAS, some Federal and Provincial environmental agencies appear to have no time line in regards to the process; and 

WHEREAS, these delays generally incur additional cost and/or termination of the project, which may or may not be deliberate;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that SARM lobby both Federal and Provincial environmental agencies to act in an appropriate expedient manner.

Response From the Hon. Pat Lorje:

Environmental Assessment (EA) is a development planning approach that ensures environmental (biophysical and social) values are considered during the design of a project, along with economic and technical factors. EA is used to protect human health, community well-being and the productivity and capacity of natural systems. It encourages better designed and planned projects and promotes development that is sustainable. Through EA, development proposals, that have the potential for significant effects, are evaluated and ways are found to prevent, minimize or offset a project's adverse impacts.

Saskatchewan introduced The Environmental Assessment Act, 1980 to provide a practical means of ensuring that economic development proceeds with adequate environmental safeguards and in a manner that is understood by and broadly acceptable to the public. The Act is a general application statute; it requires proponents (both public and private) to conduct an environmental impact assessment (EIA) if their development is likely to significantly affect the environment. Tha Act also requires that this assessment go through technical and public reviews and that the development be approved by the responsible minister in order to proceed. The EIA and review process together provide a mechanism for the minister to obtain advice from the proponent, specialists in government and the public regarding the protection afforded the environment in relation to the proposed development.

While the EA branch may provide advice to over 100 developers across the province each year on how to proceed with respect to the environmental issues associated with their projects, only eight to 10 proposals raise the kinds of issues that result in a full EIA being required. While an EIA does take time to complete, where possible, time lines are managed to minimize costs. Saskatchewan's EA process is proponent driven, so businesses can incorporate EIA activities when it makes sense to them to do so, concurrent with the preliminary phases of their normal business planning cycle. The Act describes the time available for the public review portion of the process and the government's technical reviews are conducted in relation to stated time targets. Furthermore, Saskatchewan entered into an agreement with Canada on November 30, 1999, to improve co-operation in cases where a project also raises issues that require a federal EA. This agreement sets out an efficient and effective, co-operative process that enables both governments to ensure their legal requirements are met and ensures the project undergoes a single assessment only. An important feature of this agreement is ensuring that joint reviews are conducted in a timely manner.