Community Access Road Project Update
The intent of our project newsletter is to describe and explain current and ongoing activities being done by the Marten Falls First Nation (MFFN) Community Access Road (CAR) Project Team, and to answer common questions that come up as the provincial environmental assessment (EA) and federal impact assessment (IA) moves forward. If you have questions, please reach out by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone 1-800-764-9114.
Federal Impact Assessment Update
On February 24, 2020, the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada (IAAC) issued a Notice of Commencement of an Impact Assessment for the MFFN Community Access Road Project. The Notice of Commencement marks the start of the Impact Statement Phase where the proponent completes baseline studies and prepares an impact statement document. In addition to the Notice of Commencement, IAAC released final versions of the 1) Tailored Impact Statement Guidelines; 2) Indigenous Engagement and Partnership Plan; 3) Public Participation Plan; 4) Cooperation Plan; and, 5) Permitting Plan. All documents can be found on IAAC’s Environmental Registry (https://iaac-aeic.gc.ca/050/evaluations/050?culture=en-CA) with Reference #80184.
Currently, AECOM and their team of consultants are working to develop workplans and have technical discussions with IAAC and federal and provincial regulators within a 90-day period that started on February 24, 2020. The purpose of the discussions is to review the proponents workplans, clarify federal and provincial expectations and receive feedback on technical workplans from federal and provincial agencies. Following these discussions, the baseline studies and the methodology to assess effects—so as to meet the federal impact assessment process—will be finalized and the work needed to complete the Impact Statement report will begin.
DISTANCING, ENGAGEMENT WILL HAPPEN THROUGH ONLINE METHODS AND CONFERENCE CALLS ONLY.
ENGAGEMENT IN PERSON WILL RESUME ONCE THIS SITUATION CHANGES.
NORTHERN LINK ROAD
The WaWang’Wajing Road, Phase 2, Industrial Supply Road, North-South Road, or Road to Ring of Fire is now also called the Northern Link Road.
On March 2, 2020, Marten Falls First Nation, Webequie First Nation and Ontario announced an agreement to advance the planning and development of the Northern Link Road connecting the Marten Falls Community Access Road to the Webequie Supply Road and the Ring of Fire to the north. This project is separate from the ongoing EA and IA for the Community Access Road and Webequie Supply Road Projects.
The Northern Road Link project is not yet an official environmental assessment or impact assessment project and is currently in the early planning stages. Marten Falls First Nation and Webequie First Nation will be co-proponents for the project. Any questions, issues and matters of consultation will be addressed by the co-proponents as the project comes online.
REGIONAL IMPACT ASSESSMENT
On February 10, 2020, the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada responded in agreement with three requests for a regional assessment to be conducted in an area centered on the Ring of Fire mineral deposits in the Far North of Ontario. Currently there is no terms of reference or timeline available for the regional impact assessment.
Currently, the Agency is meeting with requesters to discuss appropriate activities, outcomes and spatial and temporal boundaries for the assessment. The Agency will involve other indigenous groups and non-governmental organizations. The intent is for the federal government to work in full partnership with Ontario to carry out the regional assessment.
Provincial Individual Environmental Assessment Update
On February 7, 2020, the review period for the draft Terms of Reference (ToR) for the MFFN Community Access Road Project closed. AECOM has compiled all feedback from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, Ministry of the Environment Climate Change and Parks (MECP), Ministry of Energy Northern Development and Mines, several First Nation communities and other stakeholders into a table of concerns and proposed responses. The MFFN Community Access Road Project Team has reviewed the proposed responses and provided feedback. Currently, AECOM is working to incorporate the Project Team’s feedback, and could reach out to those who provided comment if clarification or follow up is required. Next step is to prepare the Proposed ToR that will be submitted to MECP for their official review and decision. First Nations and interested persons will have the opportunity to comment on the Proposed ToR through MECP’s review process. The EA does not officially start until a ToR approval decision is received by MECP.
Coordination the Process and Timelines
In consideration of funding and legislated timelines, the coordination and scheduling of the federal IA and the provincial EA processes for the MFFN Community Access Road Project generally falls into the hands of the proponent. This has been further complicated by the Impact Assessment Act (IAA) coming into force. The IAA process is new for everyone – regulators and proponents. Currently, the IA process is ahead of the EA as shown in the graphic below. The EA and IA process timelines will remain offset until a Proposed ToR is submitted to MECP and a decision is made. More information on project timelines is coming soon.