The federal minister of environment and climate change has ordered a regional impact assessment in the Ring of Fire, the mineral-rich region around 500 kilometres north of Thunder Bay, Ont, which is targeted for mining development.
Jonathan Wilkinson issued the order in response to requests from three parties: Aroland First Nation, the Wildlife Conservation Society of Canada and the Osgoode Environmental Justice and Sustainability Clinic.
It was issued under Canada’s new Impact Assessment Act, which came into force on Aug. 28, 2019 as part of the government’s overhaul of environmental assessment legislation – which it said was aimed at streamlining the approvals process for natural resource projects and improving consultation with Indigenous peoples.
“On one hand, I am quite surprised because this has seemed like such an intractable problem over so many years,” said Dayna Scott, the York research chair in environmental law and justice and associate professor at Osgoode Hall Law School and the Faculty of Environmental Studies at York University.
“But on the other hand, you know, the federal government really had very little choice. Once those provisions were introduced for regional assessment, and they published the criteria that they would use in deciding whether or not to establish a regional assessment, it was very clear that the Ring of Fire was a prime candidate for this kind of study, and the region meets all of the criteria that the federal government established.”
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