One Stop Approval Agency
Res #: 21-11A
Responses Received: No
Departments: Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment
WHEREAS any drainage project may require permits and authorization from as many as four government departments, (i.e. SaskWater, Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and Transport Canada); and
WHEREAS the length of time to get approval from each department can be many months; and
WHEREAS each department has to review the same area, which creates extra work and can become very cumbersome; and
WHEREAS combining all permitting, licensing, grievances and enforcement into one office, so that one agency would be responsible for all aspects of a specific project, would ultimately reduce waiting time;
BE IT RESOLVED that SARM lobby the Provincial and Federal Governments to combine all permitting, licensing, grievances and enforcement for drainage projects into one department.
Response from Honourable Dustin Duncan, Minister of Environment:
In Saskatchewan, there are at least four agencies, the Saskatchewan Watershed Authority, Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and Transport Canada, that are involved in many of the approvals required for RM activities alongside watercourses. The approval process varies depending on the complexity of the project and the potential impacts to the environment. Each of the agencies is reviewing the proposal to address differing interests and legislation requirements.
The resolution makes sense from a project proponent perspective, that is, issuing permits from a single agency. The province is exploring opportunities to streamline the regulatory process for approvals, including a comprehensive water management strategy. The province is also working with stakeholders including the Federal Government on developing an environmental code to facilitate the approvals process.
Response from Honourable Dustin Duncan, Minister Responsible for Saskatchewan Watershed Authority:
Thank you for your recent letter concerning the resolution that was passed at the 2011 Annual Convention of the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities (SARM). The resolution speaks to a one stop approval agency to improve efficiencies and timelines by streamlining the regulatory process for the authorization of drainage projects. Associated regulatory activities such as grievance resolution and enforcement were also suggested to be combined within a single agency.
The concept of this resolution aligns with the comprehensive water review process that is currently underway. As SARM is aware, the Provincial Government has engaged a consultant to meet with various interest groups in the development of a provincial water strategy. This process will be considering various regulatory options, including opportunities to more efficiently deliver water programming. The drainage and wetland issue will form part of the water review process. I understand that SARM has been involved in the consultation process. Your organization's continued involvement and valuable contribution is greatly appreciated.
Response from Honourable Denis Lebel, P.C., M.P., Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities:
I am encouraged by and appreciative of your association's continuing comments and suggestions as Transport Canada officials review, revise and draft the Minor Works and Waters (Navigable Waters Protection Act [NWPA]) Regulations.
Drainage projects can incorporate many types of projects and waterways, ranging from extensive dredging in major waterways to the creation of small ditches beside roadways.
The Minor Works and Waters Order, which falls under the NWPA, is currently in effect. This Order includes a section entitled "Artificial Irrigation Channels and Drainage Ditches," which is available online at www.tc.gc.ca/eng/marinesafety/tp-tp14838-3097.htm. Under the Order, work done in accordance with the listed criteria may proceed without further review by departmental staff.
You may be encouraged to know that the proposed regulations incorporate this class of work and expand the criteria in an effort to include a greater number of irrigation channels and ditches. A recent information paper explaining this matter is available on Transport Canada's website at www.tc.gc.ca/eng/marinesafety/oep-nwpp-menu-2983.htm.
You may also be encouraged that the department continues to review the existing NWPA.
In the interim, Transport Canada continues to streamline the NWPA approval process, its internal processes and the use of the regulatory powers in the NWPA. I look forward to your continued support in the department's streamlining efforts.
If you have any additional comments or questions, I would encourage you to work directly with departmental experts in the Navigable Waters Protection Program, led by Mr. David Osbaldeston, National Manager. You may reach Mr. Osbaldeston at 613-990-5929 or firstname.lastname@example.org.