The Nunavut Land Claims Agreement (NLCA) is a 1993 land claims agreement between the Inuit of the Nunavut Settlement Area (then part of the Northwest Territories) and the Government of Canada subject to the Constitution Act of 1982. The lands are not deemed to be "Lands Reserved for Indians" with respect to the Constitution Act of 1867. The Inuit were represented by the Tunngavik Federation of Nunavut to establish the agreement.
The agreement of July 9, 1993 was the basis for creating the new territory of Nunavut, which was officially established on April 1, 1999. The agreement led to a political accord which established dates for introducing legislation to Parliament for the eventual creation of the territory, the Government of Nunavut, and a transition process.
Under the terms of the agreement, jurisdiction over some territorial matters was transferred to the new government, among them wildlife management, land use planning and development, property taxation, and natural resource management. The Nunavut Surface Rights Tribunal (NSRT), the Nunavut Planning Commission (NPC), Nunavut Impact Review Board (NIRB) and the Nunavut Water Board (NWB) were established by Article 10 of the NLCA. The powers, functions, objectives and duties of the NIRB were set out in Article 12 of the NLCA, while an obligation to establish legislation to further set out the powers of the NIRB was also included.
The Nunavut Planning and Project Assessment Act (NuPPAA) received royal assent on June 19, 2013. The NuPPAA establishes a proven, highly efficient "single-entry" system which promotes the concept of a "one-project - one-assessment" approach to resource development projects and land use planning approval for Nunavut.
The 1993 Nunavut Land Claims Agreement Act requires that Inuit and the federal government establish a joint regime for resource management through the creation of stand-alone legislation for land use planning and environmental assessment in the Nunavut Settlement Area (the Area) and the Outer Land Fast Ice Zone. The Nunavut Waters and Nunavut Surface Rights Tribunal Act received Royal Assent in 2002 fulfilling the first part of the obligation.
The Nunavut Planning and Project Assessment Act fulfills Canada's remaining legislative obligation to enact federal legislation describing the land use planning and impact assessment processes. Under the provisions of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement, the Nunavut Planning Commission and the Nunavut Impact Review Board were established in 1996 as institutions of public government. The legislation will formally establish these bodies in legislation and describe in detail the processes under which they will operate.
Provisions of NuPPAA:
The legislation expands on the ability of Inuit, previously established under the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement, to participate in the management of development in Nunavut. It is intended to:
- Continue the functioning of the Nunavut Planning Commission and the Nunavut Impact Review Board and clearly define and describe their powers, duties and functions, including how their members are appointed. It will also clearly define the roles and authorities of Inuit and governments;
- Establish timelines for various decision-making points in the land use planning and environmental assessment processes to create a more efficient and predictable
- regulatory regime;
- Define how, and by whom, Land Use Plans will be prepared, amended, reviewed and implemented in Nunavut;
- Describe the process by which the Nunavut Planning Commission and the Nunavut Impact Review Board will examine development proposals and assess how land use activities and specific development projects will affect the Area and the Outer Land Fast Ice Zone;
- Harmonize the assessment process for transboundary and trans-regional projects by providing for review by joint panels, ensuring the right of Nunavut and Canada to review and assess projects outside the Area that may have an adverse impact on the Nunavut Settlement Area;
- Provide for the development of general and specific monitoring plans that will enable both governments to track the environmental, social and economic impacts of projects;
- Establish effective enforcement tools to ensure terms and conditions from the plans and impact assessment process are followed; and
- Streamline the impact assessment process, especially for smaller projects, and provide industry with clear, consistent and transparent guidelines, making investments in Nunavut more attractive and profitable.