Using a Community-Well Being Framework to Obtain a “Social License to Operate”

CIM Montreal 2015
Marc Rose (AECOM)
The Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA 2012) focuses heavily on the effects of projects on natural and cultural heritage to the exclusion of most other considerations. CEAA 2012 requires that effects on aboriginal peoples be examined, but only when they are the result of effects of a project on the “environment”. CEAA 1992 required a slightly broader assessment of socio-economic effects, but again only when associated with an effect on the environment.

The session will present the use of the framework outlined below for projects in the energy sector, how it has been used to help build support (and counter opposition) for those projects, and how it can be applied to the mining sector. The limited scope of the assessment required under CEAA 2012 means that legitimate concerns raised by communities, including aboriginal ones, may not be addressed in the assessment and reporting of effects. These concerns may relate to socio-economic considerations associated with a project, which may have both positive and adverse effects. For example, job creation and contribution to the local tax base, as examples of positive effects, may be important issues in the local community and key benefits of a project. However, merely addressing the requirements of CEAA means that these positive effects may be overlooked. Conversely, projects may have adverse effects on communities, such as health effects or effects on other industries, which are likely not addressed under CEAA 2012.

This session will explain how EAs can be used to present a comprehensive view of a proposed project that assesses the issues that matter to the community while demonstrating the potential contributions of the project. Specifically, it will outline how a community well-being framework can be used to understand and communicate socio-economic considerations, including how they may be influenced by natural and cultural factors. This framework typically examines:

• Human Assets: population and demographics; skills and labour supply; education; health and safety; social services; and economic development services;
• Financial Assets: employment; business activity; tourism; income; residential property values; and municipal finance and administration;
• Physical Assets: housing; municipal infrastructure and services; and community character;
• Social Assets: community and recreational facilities and programs; use and enjoyment of property; and community cohesion; and
• Natural Assets


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