Public participation in the environmental review process is essential. If potential effects of developments were not of concern, there would not be a need for their review. Those who may be most affected by the development are given the chance to provide their views. The public hearing process is to be a fair and open forum where all can be heard. There are different ways to participate and different levels of responsibility.
Who are the Panel?
The review panel is made up of Commissioners from the Clean Environment Commission. Their job is to hear all the information from all parties, consider the information presented, arrive at conclusions and, then, make recommendations to the Minister of Sustainable Development.
What is a Proponent?
A Proponent is the organization wishing to undertake a development and which has applied for an environmental licence for that project. The Proponent may be a private company, municipal organization, a government agency or other entity.
Often the subject of the review is an Environmental Impact Statement or Environmental Impact Assessment outlining the project and its potential effects in detail.
What is a Participant and how do I become one?
Participants are a key part of Hearing Processes. They are the public groups that bring forward the most critical information. There are no Participants in an Investigation. Participants often act as the opposition in a Hearing and may, with or without the help of experts, question any aspect of a Proponent’s proposal. The documents prepared by the Proponent and the Participants’ questions become part of the public record.
Where the Minister refers a matter for a Hearing process, the Commission will advertise the chance to apply to be a Participant. Those interested must fill out an application form and send it in. To be a Participant you must be prepared to participate in all pre-hearing and hearing activities. These include attending meetings to exchange information and set review procedures before the Hearing actually starts; preparing a written submission that is circulated to all parties before the start of the Hearing; making a presentation to the Panel at the Hearing; calling witnesses; questioning the Proponent; being questioned by the Proponent; and making closing remarks summing up your point of view. A Participant representative generally attends most or all of the hearing sessions. See Process Guidelines for more details.
Funding is sometimes available to help Participants make their case. Funds are provided to hire technical or legal experts to prepare the argument and/or a project coordinator to bring all the information together. If funding is available, this opportunity will also be advertised. An application package, and an application form is also available.
Who are the Presenters and how do I become one?
Presenters are groups or individuals that have information to share, but are not able to put in as much time and effort as a Participant. Generally, Presenters are given 15 minutes to make a presentation or statement before the Panel, but more time and greater involvement can be given if requested and where the Panel feels it will help the review process. Any information provided by Presenters also goes on the public record.
When the dates and times of the Hearing or Public Meeting are advertised, the Commission will also ask anyone interested to sign up if they wish to be a Presenter. Fill out an application and send it in. Members of the public may make a presentation at specific times at Hearings or Meetings, provided they have informed Commission staff of their wish to do so.
What if I can't come to the hearing or meeting?
If you cannot or do not wish to make an oral presentation to the Panel, you may send in a written submission. Use the hearings manager tool in the Presentation section to upload your written submission as a PDF and to view other submissions.
What’s the difference between a public meeting and a hearing?
When the Minister of Sustainable Development requests the Commision to conduct an Investigation the public input phase generally takes the form of a public Meeting. In this case, all public input is in the form of Presenters or by way of a written submission. There are no Participants. All the Commission operating rules apply and all Presenters will promise to tell the truth. The public Meeting is only one part of the information gathering process in an Investigation. Other information gathering or research may take place before the public Meeting and continue well after the meeting until the Panel is satisfied it has enough information to make an informed recommendation. Anyone is welcome to come and observe a public Meeting.
If the Minister requests that the Commission conduct a public Hearing, the information gathering is restricted to that provided by the Proponent, Participants, Presenters and the regulator (government) during the hearing process. Once the Hearing concludes, so does any information gathering. The Panel then makes its recommendations based only on information provided during the Hearing process. Anyone is welcome to come and observe a public Hearing.