Changes to the Nunavut Waters and Nunavut Surface Rights Tribunal Act (NWNSRTA)

The Yukon and Nunavut Regulatory Improvement Act (YNRIA) includes improvements to the regulatory regimes governing resource development in Yukon and Nunavut.  These changes involved amendments to two existing pieces of legislation: the Nunavut Waters and Nunavut Surface Rights Tribunal Act (NWNSRTA) and the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Act (YESAA).

A number of the changes to the NWNSRTA (administrative monetary penalties, security arrangements and fines) came into force on June 18, 2015, when the YNRIA received Royal Assent, and became law.

The remaining changes to NWNSRTA (time limits, life of project water licences and cost recovery) will come into force within the next 12 months. This will allow those affected by the change to prepare appropriately, and allow time for consultation on the development of regulations linked to the amendments.

Highlights of Changes to NWNSRTA

Before Bill S-6 New Features
Time Limits (Not yet in force)
  • No legislated time limits for assessments and reviews
  • 9 month limit for Nunavut Water Board decisions
  • Up to a 90 day extension for Ministerial decision making
  • Proponent time not included
  • Time during which the process is suspended by the Board is not included
"Life of Project" Water Licenses (Not yet in force)
  • Board can issue "Life of Project" licence, for anticipated duration of the project, no maximum amount of time.
  • Future review of water licences only if there is a substantive change in the project
  • Substantive changes may include:
    • Diverting the course of a stream
    • Increasing the size or changing the location of a tailings pond
    • Large increase in the use of water due to a change in the project
Cost Recovery (Not yet in force)
  • No cost recovery
  • All costs borne by Government of Canada.
  • Regulation-making authority for a cost recovery regime to recover assessment costs from proponents
  • Specific costs for recovery, to be determined by regulations, may include:
    • Board travel costs
    • Public hearings
    • Third party costs
Administrative Monetary Penalties (AMPs) (In force now)
  • No civil penalties
  • Maximum penalty for individuals: $25,000
  • Maximum penalty for organizations: $100,000
  • A contravention subject to administrative monetary penalties or criminal offense, but not both
  • Requests for Ministerial review available
Fines (In force now)
  • Maximum fine for Type A offences: $100,000 and/or imprisonment for up to one year.
  • Maximum fine for Type B offences: $15,000 and/or imprisonment for up to six months
  • No specific fine for a second or subsequent offence
  • Maximum fine for Type A offences: 250,000 and/or imprisonment for up to one year
  • Second Type A offence: maximum fine of $500,000 and/or imprisonment up to one year
  • Maximum fine for Type B offence: $37,500 and/or imprisonment for up to six months
  • Second Type B offence: maximum fine of $75,000 and/or imprisonment up to six months
  • If an offence is committed on, or continues for more than one day, it will be considered a separate offense for each day on which it is committed or continued
Posting Security/'Over Bonding' (In force now)
  • No mechanism to address over bonding
  • Limits potential for over bonding
  • Minister can enter into agreements with Inuit land owners and the proponent to coordinate security on behalf of Inuit organizations and the Crown
  • Nunavut Water Board is required to take these agreements into account when determining the amount of security required to be furnished by a licensee

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