The Clean Environment Commission is established under The Environment Act (1988) to provide an avenue through which the public can participate in the decision making process regarding the environment in Manitoba. The Commission also provides advice and recommendations to the Minister of Sustainable Development with respect to environmental issues and licensing.
Commission membership includes a full-time Chairperson and part-time Commissioners appointed by Order-in Council. Commissioners come from a wide variety of backgrounds and disciplines as well as different regions of the province.
The Commission may engage in the following activities to assist in environmental management:
As part of the provincial environmental assessment process, the public is invited to submit comments and/or objections regarding a proposed project through the Public Registry. In response to valid concerns, the Minister may request the Clean Environment Commission to convene a public hearing. During such a hearing the Commission receives representations from the project proponent, the general public-both supporters and opponents, and from various government departments responsible for reviewing the proposal. The Commission reviews the evidence and information presented at the hearing and prepares a report containing advice and recommendations for the Minister.
Upon receipt of the Commission’s report, the Minister may choose to accept all or part of its recommendations but is under no legal obligation to do so. If, however the Commission’s recommendations are not acted upon, or incorporated into the licence under review, written reasons must be provided by the Minister or the Department Sustainable Development and these must be filed in the Public Registry.
In addition to licensing matters, some environmental issues require public involvement before government policy can be developed. In these cases, the Minister can request that the Commission convene a hearing to gather public opinion.
Manitoba Sustainable Development has also signed onto a Canada-Manitoba Agreement on Environmental Assessment Cooperation with Environment Canada. As part of this agreement, regarding projects where there is also federal jurisdiction, a process is set out respecting joint review. Commission hearings may be used as a source of information for the federal review or there may be a joint review panel formed for specific projects. Commission members would be part of these panels.
The Environment Act allows the Commission to investigate any matter of environmental concern and to provide advice and recommendations to the Minister of Conservation.
The Commission can provide mediation services to parties involved in an environmental management dispute. These activities are undertaken at the request of the Minister of Sustainable Development. All Commission assisted mediations require a voluntary agreement of all parties to participate in the process in good faith. The Commission reports to the Minister regarding the outcome of any mediation exercises in which it becomes involved.