Preliminary Information for Projects in Northern Environments
The James Bay and Northern Québec Agreement (JBNQA), by its chapters 22 and 23, establishes a system of protection for both the natural and social environment in the James Bay and Northern Quebec region. Depending on the type of project, some aspects of these chapters may report under the responsibility of the Government of Canada, or the Government of Québec or both levels of government. Some projects can also be reported under the responsibility of the Cree Nation Government, notably for projects conducted on Category IA lands. Title II of the Environment Quality Act (EQA) presents the environmental and social impact assessment and review procedures applicable in the James Bay region (section 133 of the EQA) and in Northern Quebec (section 168 of the EQA).
The projects mentioned in schedule A of the EQA are subjected to one of the procedures applicable in the Northern environment, contrary to those mentioned in schedule B, which are exempt from the procedures. Projects not outlined in either schedule are considered "grey zone" projects. Anyone who intends to undertake a project in a northern environment covered by schedule A of the EQA must apply for a certificate of authorization. For “grey zone” projects, a proponent must request an attestation of exemption and the Provincial administrator will confirm to him, after analysis of the project by the northern committee concerned, whether the project is not subject to the Environmental and social impact assessment and review procedure or if it is subject to it. In the first case, an attestation of exemption will be issued to the proponent for the project and, in the second, a directive will be prepared and sent to him, which will indicate the nature, scope and extent of the impact study he must prepare. Thus, except for the projects listed in schedule B, a proponent must file a preliminary information form with the Provincial administrator of the JBNQA.
If necessary, it is possible to confirm whether your project corresponds to an activity listed in schedules A and B of the EQA or a “grey zone” by sending an e-mail request for verification of exemption, including a short description of your project, its location and the anticipated impacts at the following email address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The preliminary information form is used to describe the general characteristics of a project. It must be completed in a clear and concise manner and the information must be limited to the elements that are relevant for a proper understanding of the project, its anticipated impacts, and possible ramifications.
Listed below is the information required during submission:
In accordance with the EQA, the preliminary information form is either sent to the Evaluating Committee (COMEV), if the project concerns the region south of the 55th parallel (James Bay), or to the Kativik Environmental Quality Commission (KEQC), if the project concerns the region north of the 55th parallel (Nunavik). These two committees review the preliminary information and, in the case of projects covered by schedule A of the EQA, produce a recommendation on the directive indicating the nature, scope and extent of the study impact that the proponent must prepare. For "grey zone" projects, these committees produce a recommendation (COMEV) or a decision (KEQC) on whether the project is subjected to or exempt from the procedure. These recommendations and decisions are then forwarded to the Provincial administrator who communicates his decision to the proponent. The proponent may be issued an attestation of exemption for projects that are exempt from the procedure or issued a directive for those subjected to the environmental and social impact assessment and review procedure.
Also note that the preliminary information form will be published in the Environmental assessment register (French only) as defined in section 118.5 of the EQA but only for projects for which a directive will be issued. The COMEV and KEQC also publish preliminary information form on their websites.
In accordance with sections 115.5 and 115.12 of the EQA, the applicant for any authorization granted under that act must, as a condition of issuance, complete a « Declaration of the applicant or the holder of an authorization issued under the act respecting the Environment Quality Act », together with the other documents required by the minister. You will find the explanatory guide and the associated forms at the following address: https://www.environnement.gouv.qc.ca/lqe/renforcement/index.htm (French only).
The preliminary information form must be accompanied by the payment, charging the proponent for services provided under the environmental authorization system. This payment must be made to the ministre des Finances. Details regarding the applicable rates are available in the Tarification section (French only) of the environmental assessment web page. It should be noted that the MELCC will not process the application until payment is received.
Once completed, the proponent must send its preliminary information form together with a letter of transmission, which must be sent to the JBNQA Provincial administrator: