The impact assessment process

Impact assessment is a process for evaluating how proposed actions, projects or policies could disturb or harm the environment. Impact assessment is a key tool that helps Parks Canada minimize impacts on the environment and achieve its mandate. Parks Canada’s mandate is to protect and present nationally significant examples of Canada’s natural and cultural heritage. National parks, park reserves, historic sites and canals, and marine conservation areas all benefit from impact assessment.

Representation of the guiding principles of impact assessment at Parks Canada.
  • Guiding principles: long text

    This image shows a series of small circles around a larger circle. The small circles are labeled as follows:

    • transparency
    • meaningful public engagement
    • meaningful participation of Indigenous Peoples
    • inclusiveness
    • evidence-based
    • focused and appropriate effort
    • flexibility
    • early initiation and integration

    The large circle is labeled “Mandate-oriented."

During an assessment, Parks Canada evaluates how each phase of a proposal would interact with the environment. We consider the risk of harm to natural and cultural resources. The proposal could be as simple as building new signage for a hiking route at a national park. Or it could be as complex as replacing a large dam that controls water levels at a historic canal.

Evidence—which comes from both science and Indigenous knowledge—always informs the evaluation. Every assessment includes mitigation, the steps that must be taken to avoid and reduce harm. Public participation provides transparency and opportunities to inform the impact assessment. Respecting the rights and interests of Indigenous peoples results in better decisions and supports reconciliation.

Types of impact assessment

Parks Canada conducts two types of impact assessment in a layered approach to environmental protection.

Learn how Parks Canada keeps improving the impact assessment program.

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