The Land and Water Boards of the Mackenzie Valley have undertaken and/or are involved with several projects and initiatives with the intention of enhancing the clarity, consistency, and efficiency of our northern regulatory system.
Government of the Northwest Territories
The Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act (MVRMA) sets out the legal requirement and framework for environmental audits to be conducted in the Mackenzie Valley at least every five years. The Audit is also an obligation of the Sahtú, Gwich’in, and Tłı̨chǫ Land Claim Agreements. Previous Environmental Audits have been conducted in 2005, 2010, and 2015. The objective of the 2020 NWT Environmental Audit was to conduct a territory-wide environmental audit that includes both the Mackenzie Valley and the Inuvialuit Settlement Region (ISR), and to make suggestions for improvement in the areas of:
a) the availability and use of environmental trend information to make decisions (the 2020 Audit focused on water quality and quantity);
b) the effectiveness of cumulative impact monitoring (CIM);
c) the effectiveness of the regulatory system (this aspect only considers the Mackenzie Valley, not the ISR); and,
d) the adequacy of responses of parties to the previous Audit.
- Northwest Territories Environmental Audit (2020).
- Northwest Territories Environmental Audit (2015).
- NWT Environmental Audit (2010).
- GNWT Screening Questionnaire Wildlife Management and Monitoring Plan (2019).
- GNWT Template for a Tier 1 Wildlife Management and Monitoring Plan (2019).
As the Water Strategy states “Water is a critical component of cultural, spiritual, economic, and social well-being for residents of the NWT, particularly Aboriginal peoples. Water stewardship is a responsibility shared by many parties. Aboriginal, territorial and federal governments, regional organizations, communities, environmental non-governmental organizations, co-management boards and agencies, industry and residents all play an important role in ensuring water resources in the NWT remain healthy today and into the future.”
The commitment from the Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) and Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC) to develop a made-in-the-North water strategy to guide the use and management of NWT water resources stemmed from:
- Aboriginal peoples and northern residents’ concerns for water resource management;
- Increasing water-related pressures from industrial development and transboundary influences;
- Climate change; and,
- A changing global economy.
Multiple gatherings, discussions, and workshops were held with water partners to help determine the key elements that should be included in the NWT Water Stewardship Strategy and how related actions (keys to success) can be effectively implemented across the NWT.
- Action Plan Plain Language Summary (2016-2020).
- Action Plan (2016-2020).
- NWT Water Stewardship: A Plan for Action (2011-2015).
- Northern Voices, Northern Waters – The NWT Water Stewardship Strategy (2010).
Government of Canada
Mackenzie Valley Operational Dialogue
The Mackenzie Valley Operational Dialogue (MVOD) was created in response to concerns raised by industry during the review of Bill C-88 (an Act to amend the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act, among other Acts which received Royal Assent in 2019). Preliminary discussions between the federal government, the territorial government, and the NWT & Nunavut Chamber of Mines occurred in 2019 to follow up on the commitments made to engage in more regular discussions, which led to the pilot MVOD workshop in March 2020.
The Objective of the MVOD is, “make operational improvements using a dialogue-first approach by seeking to understand issues from various perspectives and collectively building solutions that do not require legislative amendments/change.
The Goal of the MVOD is, “for the regulatory regime in the Mackenzie Valley to be understood, trusted, effective, and efficient for all involved (including IGOs, Governments, Boards, Industry, etc.).”
The Scope of the MVOD is, “limited to topics and approaches that do not require legislative/regulatory amendments/development. However, sometimes discussions beyond operational topics are necessary to better understand an issue. For now, the scope is focused on small-scale mineral exploration (this could change in the future).”
February 2023 Workshop
March 2020 Workshop
- Regulatory Dialogue Workshop eBinder (2020).
- Mackenzie Valley Operational Dialogue Presentations and Case Studies (2020).
- Mackenzie Valley Operational Dialogue Summary Report (2020).
NWT Board Forum
The 26th NWT Board Forum took place in Yellowknife from January 31 to February 1, 2023. The forum marked the first formal gathering of its kind since 2019 and the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Hosted by the Mackenzie Valley Environmental Impact Review Board (MVEIRB), the forum reconnected and renewed the NWT Board Forum network which is compromised of representation from the Mackenzie Valley and Inuvialuit Settlement Regions.
The event's objectives included acknowledging accomplishments, resetting priorities, and providing administrative direction to work towards better integration of the co-management system.
Previous Regulatory Improvement Initiatives
The 2005 Report of the Auditor General on Development of Non-Renewable Resources in the Northwest Territories stated that Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC - now known as Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada) was not adequately fulfilling its responsibilities for managing non-renewable resource development in the Northwest Territories. The 2005 environmental audit conducted pursuant to Part 6 of the MVRMA provided recommendations for improvement of the implementation of the MVRMA but noted that, overall, the MVRMA was achieving its intended purpose. In May 2008, an AANDC-commissioned report by Mr. Neil McCrank was released. The report, The Road to Improvement –The Review of the Regulatory Systems Across the North (the McCrank Report), included recommendations that he felt could provide for improved regulatory systems. In May 2010, Minister Chuck Strahl, in response to the McCrank Report, announced the Action Plan to improve Northern regulatory regimes. The Action Plan has three key elements which includes legislative changes to improve Northern regulatory processes to reduce overlap and duplication, enhanced environmental stewardship, and provide a strong voice for Indigenous peoples. In May 2011, the Land and Water Boards of the Mackenzie Valley released a policy paper titled, Perspectives on Regulatory Improvement in the Mackenzie Valley. The paper is the Full Board’s platform for involvement in the Action Plan.
Canada’s North has come into the international spotlight due to its resource potential, sovereignty concerns, climate change, and its evolving political systems. A vision for the North has become one of Canada’s most important policy agendas. With this greater focus on Canada’s North, there has also been an increased and often negative attention on its regulatory regime, particularly as it pertains to its ability to support and promote resource development.