NILCA: Land use planning and impact assessment

The Nunavik Inuit Land Claims Agreement (NILCA) was signed in 2006 by the governments of Canada and Nunavut and the Makivik Corporation, and came into effect in 2008. It concerns specifically the use of lands and resources in the Nunavik Marine Region, including a part of James Bay, a part of Hudson Bay, a part of Hudson Strait, Ungava Bay and a part of northern Labrador. Articles 6 and 7 of the NILCA establish respectively land use planning and impact assessment mechanisms strictly for the offshore portion of Nunavik, known as the Nunavik Marine Region.

Map of the Nunavik marine region

Land use planning

The primary purpose of land use planning in the Nunavik Marine Region, which is governed by Article 6 of the NILCA, is to protect and promote the existing and future well-being of those persons and communities resident in or using the Nunavik Marine Region, taking into account the interests of all Canadians while devoting special attention to protecting and promoting the existing and future well-being of Nunavik Inuit and Nunavik Inuit lands. An objective of the planning process is to prepare and implement a land use plan which will guide and direct resource use and development in the Nunavik Marine Region. The Nunavik Marine Region Planning Commission is responsible for developing and implementing the land use plan.

Land use planning in the Nunavik Marine Region is closely tied with the impact assessment procedure established under Article 7 of the NILCA. Indeed, development projects must first be evaluated by the Nunavik Marine Region Planning Commission to validate their compliance with the land use plan before the impact assessment procedure is triggered.

Impact assessment
The impact assessment procedure established under Article 7 of the NILCA is mainly the responsibility of the Nunavik Marine Region Impact Review Board. The primary functions of the Review Board include screening project proposals and determining whether or not an impact assessment under Article 7 is required, undertaking such assessments and reviewing the ecosystemic and socio-economic impacts of project proposals, determining whether project proposals should proceed and under what terms and conditions, and monitoring projects in accordance with the provisions of Article 7. The Nunavik Marine Region Impact Review Board transmits its recommendations to the competent federal minister, who is responsible for final decisions. It is composed of five members: three appointed by the Government of Canada (of whom two are nominated by the Makivik Corporation), one by the Government of Nunavut, and a chairperson appointed by the Government of Canada in consultation with the Government of Nunavut. In the nomination and appointment of a chairperson, preference is given to Nunavik residents where candidates are equally qualified.

The primary objective of Nunavik Marine Region Impact Review Board in carrying out its functions is at all times to protect and promote the existing and future well-being of the persons and communities resident in or using the Nunavik Marine Region, and to protect the ecosystemic integrity of the Nunavik Marine Region.

The project certificate is delivered by the Nunavik Marine Region Impact Review Board. It includes the conditions to be followed by the project proponent and, where applicable, the details of the monitoring program that must be put in place.

Public participation
The Nunavik Marine Region Impact Review Board may request input from concerned communities and relevant regional organizations, such as the Nunavik Marine Region Wildlife Board and the Nunavik Marine Region Planning Commission. The Nunavik Marine Region Impact Review Board may hold public hearings.