Federal assessment process
On 18 March 2013, following public consultation based on the project notification form, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency ruled not to proceed with a more in-depth environmental assessment of the IFFCO Canada project under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act.
Québec assessment process
The Québec environmental assessment process is a prerequisite for obtaining the provincial authorizations necessary to build the plant. IFFCO Canada therefore tabled the company’s Social and Environmental Impact Study with the Ministry of Sustainable Development, Environment, Wildlife and Parks (MDDEFP). The ministry analysed the study in detail and consulted broadly with all provincial ministries concerned.
MDDEFP subsequently ruled that the study complied with the environmental assessment requirements set out in the Environmental Impact Assessment and Examination Regulations and Environment Quality Act (Québec). A notice of admissibility was issued in June 2013.
Intervention of BAPE
MDDEFP requested that Bureau d’audiences publiques sur l’environnement (BAPE) set up a Commission of Inquiry and hold public hearings into all project aspects and issues. Hearings were conducted in two parts. The first part focuses on the garnering of information, while the second allows the general public to express their opinions on the project at hand.
The first phase of hearings took place on the 3rd and 4th of September 2013 at Bécancour. IFFCO Canada representatives and resource persons invited by the commission answered questions posed by BAPE commissioners and the general public.
The second phase of hearings took place on the 1st and 2nd of October 2013, enabling commissioners to hear the opinions of individuals, groups and organizations having tabled briefs in relation to the project.
With public hearings now ended, the Commission of Inquiry presided by Mr. Pierre André completed its mandate when it tabled its report with the minister of Sustainable Development, Environment, Wildlife and Parks (MDDEFP) on December 20, 2013.
On January 23rd 2014, the minister of of Sustainable Development, Environment, Wildlife and Parks, Yves-François Blanchet, made public the BAPE report that considers that the proposed plant fulfils a need and that the proposal tabled by IFFCO Canada is acceptable from the economic, social and ecological standpoints.
The publication of the BAPE report is an important step in the project’s evolution. Although BAPE has no decision-making powers, BAPE analyses are of the utmost importance to government decision-makers.
Intervention of other ministries
In parallel to BAPE commission hearings, various other provincial ministries concerned (Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Public Safety, Natural Resources, etc.) assess the project based on their respective fields of expertise. These ministries also report to the minister of Sustainable Development, Environment, Wildlife and Parks (MDDEFP) who has 60 days within which to render the various assessments (BAPE and ministerial) public.
Lastly, the minister makes a recommendation to the provincial cabinet. The final decision to authorize construction of the plant lies with the Government of Québec which proceeds by decree.