On March 12, 2009, the Navigable Waters Protection Act (NWPA) was amended (by the Budget Implementation Act, 2009) to eliminate the need for an environmental assessment under the CEAA in certain circumstances. More specifically, the amendments to the NWPA created a “tiered” system for Canada’s navigable waterways, granting the federal government authority to “declassify” certain waterways. As a result, works or undertakings affecting declassified waterways, for example, would not be required to obtain an approval under the NWPA, which in turn triggers the need for an environmental assessment approval under the CEAA. Including these kinds of amendments in a budget bill is unusual; consequently, the substance of the amendments was not actively debated and there was virtually no opportunity for public comment or debate.
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