Ottawa is rethinking its approach to the federal Regional Assessment process for the Ring of Fire. This week, the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada (IACC) issued information on how stakeholders can participate in the terms of reference process for assessing the cumulative consequences of industrial expansion in Ontario’s Far North.
Former federal Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson in February 2020 proposed for a Regional Assessment of the James Bay area where mining corporations are investigating and hoping to develop mineral deposits. However, the evaluation procedure never began. Wilkinson’s successor, Steven Guilbeault, never signed off on the terms of reference after three years of gathering information.
Guilbeault met with regional Indigenous leaders in Thunder Bay this past January and opted to scrap the initial iteration of the Regional Assessment process in favor of one that is “co-led” by initial Nation representatives and better reflects Indigenous values.
The Regional Assessment has been described as a comprehensive strategy to determining the potential negative consequences of mining in the region. The findings will only be used to guide a federal environmental review of any future mining activities.
The IACC stated that it will collaborate with everyone, including the Ontario government, Indigenous groups, federal authorities, environmental organizations, and members of the general public, “to determine the appropriate activities, outcomes, and boundaries of the regional assessment.”
Simultaneously, Guilbeault’s cabinet colleague, now Natural Resources Minister Wilkinson, is promising a streamlined federal and provincial regulatory approvals procedure to expedite the development of new mines and sources of essential minerals. When it comes to development in the Ring of Fire, Wilkinson says the government will not cut corners on environmental protection or Indigenous rights.
Guilbeault swears that whichever Regional Assessment process arises, it must be “conducted promptly and pursued as a top priority.”
IAAC stated that funding is available to assist eligible individuals and groups in providing input into the development of the draft text, allowing them to have a say and participate in deciding what should be included in the terms of reference.
The deadline for funding applications is June 23.
Information for this story was found via The Globe And Mail, CBC, Sudbury, and the sources mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to the organizations discussed. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.