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.
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.
- A project-level impact assessment takes a close-up view. It is a detailed and tailored analysis of specific work proposals.
- A strategic environmental assessment takes a long-term, big-picture view of lands managed by Parks Canada. It applies to plans, policies and programs.
Learn how Parks Canada keeps improving the impact assessment program.
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