AUC updates Indigenous consultation requirements for applicants
The AUC announced changes to Rule 007: Applications for Power Plants, Substations, Transmission Lines, Industrial System Designations and Hydro Developments on March 5, 2021, including outlining the AUC's expectations for Indigenous consultation. As a result of these changes, AUC Rule 020: Rules Respecting Gas Utility Pipelines has been merged into Rule 007. Rule 020 was rescinded effective September 1, 2021.
The engagement with Indigenous groups and stakeholders was instrumental to developing the guidelines. The AUC thanks everyone for their active participation throughout the consultation process. Having clear requirements will help improve the consistency and predictability of how Indigenous consultation is addressed in AUC decisions.
If you have questions contact Amanda Spyce, Indigenous consultation lead, by phone at 403-592-4547 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
AUC's role in Indigenous engagement
The AUC regulates the construction and operation of utility projects such as transmission lines, substations, power plants, hydro projects, industrial system designations and gas utility pipelines. The AUC has the authority to consider and address potential adverse impacts to Aboriginal and treaty rights when deciding whether approval of a utility project is in the public interest. This authority has been confirmed in recent decisions of the Supreme Court of Canada and by the Alberta government.
Amanda Spyce, Indigenous consultation lead
Amanda Spyce, the AUC's Indigenous consultation lead joined the AUC in May of 2019. Amanda has over 15 years of experience with Indigenous consultation and natural resource development from both a public and private sector perspective in Alberta, British Columbia, Northwest Territories and the Yukon.
Throughout her career, Amanda has developed comprehensive knowledge of Alberta's regulatory processes, including relevant legislation and policies, and a strong respect for the unique history, culture and protocols of Indigenous peoples from working with over 30 First Nation and Métis communities.
Amanda works closely with the AUC's Facilities and legal staff and the organization's Indigenous consultation policies and procedures. Amanda regularly liaises with the Alberta government, including Indigenous Relations, the Aboriginal Consultation Office and Alberta Environment and Parks with respect to policy developments and in relation to specific AUC regulated projects.
A key part of Amanda’s role is to work with Indigenous groups and industry to help them understand the AUC’s regulatory process and explore opportunities for improvement.
Amanda can be contacted at 403-592-4547 or by email at email@example.com.
Roles and responsibilities
The AUC is committed to ensuring that Indigenous groups, whose constitutionally protected rights may be directly and adversely affected by proposed developments, have the opportunity to have their concerns heard, considered, understood and accommodated (if required).
The Supreme Court of Canada recognizes that regulatory tribunals, like the AUC, may have a role to play in the Crown's duty to consult with Indigenous groups. In addition, the Alberta government recognizes that AUC decisions may, in some cases, trigger a duty to consult Indigenous communities. When a consultation is triggered, the Alberta government relies on the AUC's processes to address potential adverse impacts to Aboriginal and treaty rights prior to making regulatory decisions.
Under AUC Rule 007, applicants are required to file a participant involvement program (PIP) to ensure that all parties, including First Nations and Métis whose rights may be directly and adversely affected by a proposed development, are informed of the application and have an opportunity to voice their concerns so that those concerns may be properly addressed and if possible, resolved.
Utility projects often require multiple approvals from different provincial and federal regulators. Other provincial regulators that issue utility project-related approvals include:
- Alberta Culture, Multiculturalism and Status of Women for the Historical Resources Act.
- Alberta Environment and Parks for the Public Lands Act, Water Act and Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act.
The AUC's expectations for Indigenous consultation are outlined in AUC Rule 007. The rule includes guidelines for applicants on including Indigenous groups in the PIP (Appendix A1-B – Participant). Applicants can now request feedback from the AUC on the PIP for Indigenous groups prior to submitting an application to the AUC, including determining a project category for consultation purposes.
The AUC also offers a statement of intent to participate form for Indigenous groups that is intended to help Indigenous groups provide the necessary information to demonstrate how the rights being asserted may be directly and adversely affected by the AUC's decision on an application.
You can visit the Participating in a proceeding or Guidance for proponents pages for more information about the AUC's application process or how to participate in a proceeding.
Approvals by these departments (especially Alberta Environment and Parks) are often informed by recommendations from the Aboriginal Consultation Office.
You can also learn about a project being considered by the AUC by using the eFiling System database.
How to find out about a proposed project in the AUC’s eFiling System
The AUC has a comprehensive database called the eFiling System. You can register to receive three types of global notifications through the eFiling System:
- filing announcements
- notices of application
- issued dispositions
If your community wishes to learn more about a specific application and receive regular updates about the documents filed in the proceeding to consider the application(s) it can register through the eFiling System as an observer or participant for that proceeding. Please check to see if your community is already registered with the eFiling System. If your community is not registered, but would like to be, please contact us at 310-4282 (310-4AUC) or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more details about how to set up global notifications or other eFiling System functions please visit our How to use the eFiling System page and the eFiling System user guide or contact us for more information.