Community Workshop to Draft the Environmental Impact Assessment Terms of Reference
As a first step in the engagement strategy, the Project Team needed to help stakeholders understand the new technologies, regulatory processes, and the opportunities for input to influence the project design.
To begin this process, the team identified the opportunity to engage community residents in a workshop for the preparation of the development of the draft Terms of Reference (TOR) for the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), a key initial step in the regulatory process for the proposed project.
Typically for an EIA in Alberta, a TOR is developed by the project proponent in conjunction with their environmental consultant to meet the first stage of regulatory requirements for an environmental review. The final draft of the TOR is prepared and made available to stakeholders to provide input before it is finalized with the regulator.
Aligned with the CPC corporate guiding principle, that no project or its elements be unchangeable, the CPC Team decided to take a new approach to drafting the EIA TOR. The approach put the development of the EIA TOR in the hands of community stakeholders. Through a facilitated workshop in collaboration with the Environmental Consultant responsible for the EIA, local community members worked in small groups to develop a document to detailing all of their questions, in their words, to be answered as part of the EIA for the proposed project.
The community input represented a large inventory of questions to be studied or otherwise formally addressed in the course of the EIA and consistent with the CPC team’s goal of ensuring the EIA is as complete and comprehensive as possible, with respect to area resident’s interests. Questions were grouped, and cross-referenced as appropriate, into the following study areas of possible impacts (positive and negative) with respect to:
- • Air Quality—a sample follows
- • Water Quantity and Quality
- • Land Use and Reclamation
- • Noise
- • Fish, Wildlife, and Habitat
- • Human Health
- • Public Safety
- • Socioeconomic
- • Historical Resources and Traditional Knowledge
- • Technology Use and Operation
The EIA TOR that was developed with input from the community for the proposed project required the same environmental studies that CPC would have conducted without community input. The outcome was the same, but with a very different process.
Through the new process of working with the community, in collaboration with the environmental consultant to draft an EIA TOR in their words and questions, CPC was able to build credibility with community stakeholders and the regulators that the project team was committed to addressing key stakeholder issues of concern.