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Before a utility project applicant submits an application to the AUC, the applicant must develop a Participant Involvement Program (PIP) that includes Indigenous groups if there is a potential for the project to impact to Aboriginal and treaty rights.
The AUC’s interim consultation and information requirements outlines existing best practices that are applicable to all new transmission lines, substations, power plants, hydro projects, industrial system designations and gas utility pipelines filed on or after January 1, 2020.
The AUC’s Rule 007: Applications for Power Plants, Substations, Transmission Lines, Industrial System Designations, Hydro Developments and Gas Utility Pipelines includes guidelines for applicants for including Indigenous groups in the PIP (Appendix A1-B – Participant).
Overview of applicant guidelines for Indigenous consultation:
The AUC requires an applicant to inform the Indigenous groups of, and involve them in discussions about, the applicant’s project if there is a potential for that project to impact Section 35 rights.
The applicant must specifically address Indigenous consultation as part of the PIP and identify the Indigenous groups it consulted. If no steps were undertaken to identify and consult with Indigenous groups, the applicant must provide an explanation.
Applicants can seek feedback from the AUC staff on participant involvement for Indigenous groups by emailing the completed “Request for AUC staff feedback on participant involvement program for Indigenous group form” to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tips for filling out this form:
The AUC recommends using the Alberta government’s Landscape Analysis and Indigenous Relations Tool (LAIRT) to identify which Indigenous groups may require early engagement in an area.
The AUC uses three Indigenous consultation categories to improve regulatory consistency, predictable decision-making and public transparency. In the event that an application has characteristics that fall into two or more categories, more stringent notification requirements should be followed.
A First Nation reserve or Metis Settlement is within the consultation areas (Notification radius right).
First Nations or Metis Settlements with reserves or Settlements within the consultation area must be included in the PIP.
The AUC considers the nature, scope, magnitude and duration of the potential adverse impacts on Section 35 rights in reviewing applications to determine if Indigenous groups should be included in the participant involvement program. Questions that the AUC considers during the assessment of projects can be found in AUC Rule 007 on page 138.
Notification to Indigenous groups should be provided to the official consultation contact(s) and by the method identified on the Aboriginal Consultation Office (ACO) website.
It is helpful for the Indigenous groups to be notified early in project planning to provide sufficient time for relationship building, issue identification and mitigation exploration.
The applicant must retain documentation of potential mitigation measures for objections that were identified or considered through the notification and consultation process prior to filing an application. The applicant is expected to document all commitments made during its PIP and have a process in place to monitor and follow up on those commitments.
Applicants are encouraged to consider options to avoid, minimize, or mitigate impacts on Section 35 rights identified during consultation with Indigenous groups. Exploration of these concerns should be documented thoroughly in the consultation record.
Efforts to accommodate concerns may include:
The applicant must keep a log containing information on the dates notification occurred or was attempted, whether project information was provided, and to whom the project information was given, as well as any follow-up discussions.
The applicant must indicate if Indigenous groups were included the PIP. If so, the applicant must include a summary of the consultation undertaken including a description of the unresolved objections that it is aware of, and its responses and follow-up to these objections.
If no steps were undertaken to identify and consult with Indigenous groups, the applicant must provide an explanation.
If resolution of concerns is not possible applicants are responsible for providing the AUC with the record of the consultation that was undertaken, including a summary of any objections received, mitigations discussed, and any outstanding objections.