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Quebec Provincial Environmental Review (9-QC-a)

Information current as of 2019
In Quebec, a person (developer) may need a Certificate of Authorization (Certificate) from the Quebec Ministry of Sustainable Development, Environment, and the Fight Against Climate Change for any construction, work, activity, or operation in the cases prescribed by the Government, which include transmission lines greater than 75kV (kilovolts). R.S.Q., c. Q-2, ss. 31.1, 153, 188, Annex A(e). Projects identified in Annex A of the Environmental Quality Act are automatically subject to the environmental and social impact assessment outlined in sections 153–67 and 187–204 of the Environmental Quality Act.

The Quebec Ministry of Sustainable Development, Environment, and the Fight Against Climate Change regulates environmental compliance with Quebec law pursuant to the Environmental Quality Act and the Regulation respecting the environmental impact assessment and review of certain projects.

Provincial Environmental Review Process

9-QC-a.1 to 9-QC-a.2 – Notify the Minister (If Applicable)

The developer must notify the Minister of Sustainable Development, Environment, and the Fight Against Climate Change (Minister) that they intend to undertake a project that includes a transmission line of more than 75 kV. This notice should also include the general nature, location, and start date of the project. Then the Minister forwards the notice to the Evaluation Committee within the Ministry. R.S.Q., c. Q-2, s. 155.

9-QC-a.3 to 9-QC-a.4 – Send Preliminary Information to the Minister

The developer must send preliminary information about the project to the Minister. R.S.Q., c. Q-2, ss.156, 190. This information must include, at minimum:

  • The developer's name and contact information;
  • The developer's Quebec business number, which is assigned when registered under the Quebec – Act respecting the legal publicity of enterprises, R.S.Q., c. P-44.1;
  • A certified copy of a resolution of the municipal council (or copy of a by-law) authorizing the mandatary to sign the project notice, if the developer is a municipality;
  • The names and contact information for any other parties who may work on the project, and a brief description of their contribution;
  • A short description of the project and a plan for carrying it out;
  • The purpose and goals of the project;
  • A site description that includes the main characteristics of the site and a site plan;
  • A brief description of the main issues identified and the anticipated impact on the environment;
  • A timetable for each stage of the project;
  • A summary of any related proposed activities, if applicable;
  • The terms of how the developer plans to inform and consult the public during the project's development, including Native communities, and how the developer intends to handle the concerns raised, if applicable; and
  • Whether each phase of the project is likely to include the emission of greenhouse gases, and if so, which gases.

R.R.Q., c. Q-2, r. 23.1, s. 3.

Then the Minister must send the preliminary information to the Evaluation Committee of the Ministry if the project is south of the 55th parallel or the Kativik Environmental Quality Commission (Commission) if the project is north of the 55th parallel. R.S.Q., c. Q-2, s. 156, 190.

9-QC-a.5 – Publish Notice of the Project (If Applicable)

The Commission must publish notice of the project in the Gazette officielle du Quebec (Official Gazette) within 30 days of receiving the preliminary information from the Minister. R.S.Q., c. Q-2, s. 194.

9-QC-a.6 to 9-QC-a.7 – Determine the Scope and Type of Impact Assessment(s)

The Minister (with advice from the Evaluation Committee or the Commission, depending on the jurisdiction) determines the scope and the content of the assessment(s) that the developer must prepare and notifies the developer of their decision. R.S.Q., c. Q-2, ss. 158, 195. For project below the 55th parallel, the Minister must notify the Cree Nation Government of the project within 30 days of receiving the developer's preliminary information. The Minister can extend this time period if he or the Evaluating Commission need more time. R.S.Q., c. Q-2, s. 159.

9-QC-a.8 to 9-QC-a.11 – Complete Impact Assessment(s)

The developer must complete the environmental and social impact studies as required by the Minister and submit the results to the Minister with an Application for a Certificate of Authorization (Application). The Minister may require the developer to complete more studies. When the Minister thinks the project's file is complete, they must notify the Review Committee of the Ministry and the Cree Nation Government or the Commission, depending on the jurisdiction. R.S.Q., c. Q-2, ss. 160, 196. The developer must update the file before a decision is made if there are any changes, errors, or new circumstances not considered by the original assessment(s) that could lead to significant adverse environmental or social impacts. R.S.Q., c. Q-2, s. 198.

9-QC-a.12 – Comment on Project

For projects located below the 55th parallel, the Cree Nation Government or any Cree village can make representations to the Review Committee within 30 days of receiving the developer's studies from the Minister. Individual Cree members can also make written or oral submissions to the Review Committee. The Minster has the authority to extend the 30-day time limit and can authorize other methods of public consultation as needed. R.S.Q., c. Q-2, s.161. For projects located above the 55th parallel, any interested person, group, or municipality can submit a written comment on the project to the Commission. The Commission can also invite interested parties to make representations directly to the Commission about a particular project. R.S.Q., c. Q-2, s. 199. If the Commission does not include a Naskapi member or agent when the Commission is deciding on an Application, the Commission must send copies of the developer's studies to the Naskapi village for comments before issuing a final decision. R.S.Q., c. Q-2, s. 200.

9-QC-a.13 – Send Recommendation to Minister

The Review Committee or the Commission, depending on the jurisdiction, must send its recommendation to the Minister on whether to authorize the project (and if so, what under what conditions) within 45 days of the Minister saying the file was complete. The Minister, with the advice of the Review Committee or the Commission) can extend the 45-day time limit. R.S.Q., c. Q-2, ss. 162, 200.

The following factors may be considered in making a recommendation:

  • The favorable and unfavorable aspects of the project as well as its positive and negative effects on the environment and society;
  • The environmental adversities that cannot be avoided using presently available technology and those that the developer has chosen to avoid completely, as well as the proposals of the latter aimed at limiting such adversities;
  • Reasonable and available measures for preventing or reducing negative impacts and intensifying positive impacts of the project;
  • Reasonable alternatives to the project and aspects of the project;
  • The methods and other measures proposed by the applicant to sufficiently control the emission of contaminants into the environment or to regulate other environmental problems as needed;
  • The conformity of the project with laws and regulations concerning the environmental problems caused by this type of project (including proposed legislation and regulations not yet passed); and
  • Safety measures which are to be set in operation by the applicant in case of accident.

R.S.Q., c. Q-2, s. 197.

9-QC-a.14 to 9-QC-a.15 – Review Application for Completeness

The Minister must review the Application for administrative and technical completeness. If the Minister finds the developer's studies insufficient, then the Minister request that the developer complete additional studies. R.S.Q., c. Q-2, s. 163.

9-QC-a.16 to 9-QC-a.17 – Review Application for Approval

The Minister or Deputy Minister, depending on the jurisdiction, must review the Application for approval.

9-QC-a.18 to 9-QC-a.19 – Certificate of Authorization

Projects Located South of the 55th Parallel

When the Minister is satisfied with the completeness of the developer's studies, he makes a decision on the Application—issue the Certificate of Authorization or deny the request in writing—and forward a copy of that decision to the Cree Nation Government. If the Application is approved, the Minister can add conditions to the Certificate of Authorization with which the project must comply. If the Minster disagrees with the Review Committee's recommendation, the Minister must consult with the Review Committee again before making the final decision. R.S.Q., c. Q-2, s. 164.

Projects Located North of the 55th Parallel

The Deputy Minister must issue a Certificate of Authorization if the Commission determines it is appropriate. The Commission may also recommend conditions to include with the Certificate of Authorization. The Minister may decide to substitute a different decision for that of the Commission. The Deputy Minister must send a copy of their decision to the Commission and the Kativik Regional Government as well as the Naskapi village if there are no Naskapi members or agents on the Commission. Notice of refusal to grant Certificate must be sent in writing to the developer as well as any other parties that are required to receive a copy of the final decision. R.S.Q., c. Q-2, s. 201.

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