Before Proponents can obtain the licences, permits and approvals needed to carry out a project, the requirements of Nunavut’s integrated regulatory process must be satisfied. Nunavut’s regulatory process is established by the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement and several pieces of accompanying legislation, such as the Nunavut Waters and Nunavut Surface Rights Tribunal Act and the Nunavut Planning and Project Assessment Act.  Nunavut’s institutions of public government play an important role in overseeing the use of renewable and non-renewable natural resources within the Nunavut Settlement Area.

Proponents of projects must submit a project proposal to the Nunavut Planning Commission (NPC) to determine whether the project conforms to the requirements of any approved land use plans, and if so, whether the project type is exempt from the requirement for screening by the Nunavut Impact Review Board (NIRB). The NPC may take up to 45 days to complete its consideration of a project proposal. The NPC can be contacted through its website at www.nunavut.ca to learn more about submission requirements and applicable land use plans. 

Generally, many low-impact projects, community resupply and individual ship movements, and developments within municipalities are exempt from the requirement for screening by the NIRB and may only be referred to the NIRB for assessment if the NPC has concerns regarding potential cumulative effects.  The NIRB only screens project proposals which have been referred to it by the NPC. Schedule 12-1 of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement (NLCA) and specific Screening Exemption Agreements negotiated by the NIRB specify which project types are exempt from the requirement for screening.

Screening by the NIRB is designed to determine whether proposed projects require a full environmental review, or whether they should instead be allowed to proceed and receive their required permits, licenses and approvals without further assessment.  Full environmental reviews may be required for projects using untested technologies, where significant public concern exists, or for major development projects with the potential to significantly impact the environment.  The NIRB’s screening decision reports are issued directly to the government ministers responsible for authorizing a proposed project (i.e. responsible ministers) and include a detailed assessment of the proposal and its potential to cause ecosystemic and socio-economic impacts to the environment and communities.  Should screening by the NIRB be required, authorizing agencies are prohibited from issuing licences, permits and approvals for a project until the NIRB’s screening is complete. 

Should screening by the NIRB be required, Proponents must register an account and complete an online application form through the NIRB’s online public registry at www.nirb.ca.  Upon receipt of a project proposal from the NPC, the NIRB’s screening process may take up to 45 days to complete and includes a public commenting opportunity.  There are no fees associated with the NIRB’s screening process, however Proponents are responsible for ensuring all required information has been provided, including translated materials in Inuktitut and/or Inuinnaqtun. A complete and adequate project proposal will limit additional information requests.