Public Participation Plan
Value Chain Solutions - Heartland Complex Expansion Project

June 25, 2021

1. Introduction

Public participation is an essential part of an open, informed and meaningful impact assessment. The Government of Canada is committed to providing the public with the opportunity to participate meaningfully in the process and to provide the public with the information needed to participate in an informed way.

On March 15, 2021, the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada (the Agency) determined that an impact assessment is required for the Value Chain Solutions - Heartland Complex Expansion Project (the Project), pursuant to Section 16 of Canada's Impact Assessment Act.

The Public Participation Plan (the Plan), developed by the Agency, takes into account the context of the COVID19 pandemic, to set out the best opportunities for public participation during the impact assessment process. It is intended to be flexible and does not preclude the Agency from making changes to the approaches described in this Plan in order to accommodate changes that may occur during the pandemic or the impact assessment. If this is the case, the Agency will inform the public and stakeholders.

For additional information about the implementation of meaningful public participation, please refer to the Policy Context for Public Participation in Impact Assessment and Guidance for Public Participation in Impact Assessments. A distinct and separate Indigenous Engagement and Partnership Plan is also available, outlining Indigenous engagement opportunities and approaches.

2. Description of the Proposed Project

Value Chain Solutions Inc. (the Proponent) is proposing the Project to expand its approved Heartland bitumen upgrader and refinery, located in Alberta's Industrial Heartland, about 18 kilometres northeast of Fort Saskatchewan. The expansion would increase the facility's input capacity from 29,890 m3 of diluted bitumen per day to 119,240 m3 per day. The Project is designed to upgrade and refine diluted oil sands bitumen to produce a variety of products. The Project would include activities such as construction of processing units and associated infrastructure to enable upgrading and refining, and the expansion of a petroleum storage facility and railway facilities.

3. Objectives of the Public Participation Plan

The Public Participation Plan outlines the various ways a participant may provide input and engage in the process, including for those most likely affected by the Project. The following objectives for public participation are proposed:

  • Public participation is meaningful. This means that members of the public who want to take part in the impact assessment:
    • have the opportunity to do so,
    • have the information they need, and
    • have the capacity to participate in an informed manner.
  • The public is engaged early and often, particularly at each key stage of the impact assessment process.
    • The public is involved in the development or revision of key documents, such as this plan, the Tailored Impact Statement Guidelines, the proponent's Impact Statement, the potential conditions, and draft amendments to the Decision Statement.
  • Participation opportunities are designed to take into account diverse needs and interests of the public. Opportunities include but are not limited to: public comment periods, potential public hearing, and in-person or virtual information sessions or consultation events at key phases of the process.
  • Public views heard throughout the process are tracked and inform decision making.

4. Identification of stakeholders

The following is a list of communities, associations and other stakeholders that have indicated an interest in participating in the impact assessment of this project:

  • Fort Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce
  • Strathcona County

5. Public participation tools

In order to ensure meaningful public participation during the impact assessment process, the following communication and participation tools will be used:

  • public notices posted on the Public Registry, published in newspapers and broadcast on the radio;
  • social media updates (e.g. the Agency's Twitter Feed);
  • interactive community and information sessions (in-person or virtual presentations, with questions and answers);
  • printed copies of key documents held in viewing centres, if requested;
  • training on the impact assessment process and how to participate, available by e-learning and on demand (on demand);
  • public comment periods to gather participants' input on key documents; and
  • other tools based on input from the public input during the comment period on this final Public Participation Plan, as well as during the impact assessment process.

Participation opportunities and associated tools are explained in more detail in Table 1 below.

6. Activities and public participation approach

The following table provides a description of the main phases in the impact assessment process, and an outline of engagement opportunities in each phase, including events led by the Agency. The table describes the objectives of each phase and the anticipated engagement activities that will be used.

In the event that the impact assessment is referred to a review panel, the objectives of the Public Participation Plan will be incorporated into the review panel's Terms of Reference, and the review panel will select engagement activities that align with the review panel's Rules of Procedure and protect the review panel against any real or perceived conflict of interest.

Table 6.1 – Public Participation Approaches and Activities

Objectives of the Phase

Expected Activities

Public Participation Tool

Timelines

Phase I: Planning

  • Support understanding of the proposed Project.
  • Increase public awareness of the impact assessment process and how to meaningfully participate.
  • Gather public input and views on the draft Tailored Impact Statement Guidelines and the Public Participation Plan, prior to finalizing these documents.
  • From November 19 to December 10, 2020, the Agency invited comments on the Initial Project Description.
  • From mid April to mid May 2021, the Agency invited comments on the draft Tailored Impact Statement Guidelines and the draft Public Participation Plan.
  • Virtual and interactive community meetings were held to:
    • inform participants about the Project and the impact assessment process; and
    • provide the opportunity to comment on the draft Tailored Impact Statement Guidelines and draft Public Participation Plan.
  • The Agency continued to respond to any inquiries received via the Public Registry, by email or phone.
  • The Agency continued to administer participant funding to support participation in the impact assessment process.
  • Notices on the Public Registry, newspapers and radio, and social media updates.
  • Online comment periods.
  • Response to inquiries via email or phone.
  • Emails to the public stakeholder distribution list.
  • Virtual community meetings.
  • Calls and meetings with interested stakeholders.
  • The Planning Phase is a maximum of 180 days, excluding any timeline suspension.
  • This Phase commenced on November 19, 2020 with the acceptance of the Initial Project Description.
  • This Phase was completed with the posting of the Notice of Commencement of the impact assessment and related documents on June 25, 2021.

Phase 2: Impact Statement

  • Increase public awareness of the impact assessment process and how to meaningfully participate.
  • Notify participants of key steps in the process such as the receipt of the Impact Statement and the comment period on the Impact Statement.
  • Obtain the views of participants on whether the Impact Statement contains the required information and studies, as outlined in the Tailored Impact Statement Guidelines.
  • Upon receipt, the Impact Statement will be posted to the Public Registry and an email will be sent to the distribution list to notify participants.
  • The Agency will hold an online comment period on the Impact Statement. The comments will assist in determining whether the Impact Statement contains all the information and studies requested in the Tailored Impact Statement Guidelines.
  • The Agency will hold information sessions to provide an opportunity to comment on the Impact Statement.
  • If a Review Panel is appointed during the Impact Statement Phase, the Review Panel may lead public participation activities.
  • Public notices announcing participation opportunities on the Public Registry, emails to the distribution list and updates on social media.
  • Emails to the public stakeholder distribution list informing participants of key steps in the process and posting of documents relevant to the impact assessment and comments received on the Public Registry.
  • Public comment period on the Proponent's Impact Statement.
  • Virtual or in-person information sessions.
  • The Impact Statement Phase is up to three years.
  • This Phase commences upon posting of the Notice of Commencement of the impact assessment and related documents.
  • This Phase is completed when the Agency is satisfied that the proponent submitted all the information and studies required in the Tailored Impact Statement Guidelines.

Phase 3: Impact Assessment

  • Increase public awareness of the impact assessment process, and promote participation in the process.
  • Verify information in the Impact Statement and gather any additional information that is needed to meet the information requirements in the Tailored Impact Statement Guidelines and write its report, including a summary of public comments.
  • Obtain comments from participants on the recommendations from the Agency regarding potential conditions.
  • The Agency will post a notice and email the distribution list to notify participants when the Agency's report has been submitted to the Minister and is posted on the Public Registry.
  • Following the submission of the Agency's report, the Agency will engage on potential conditions.
  • The Agency will continue to administer funding to support participation in the impact assessment process.
  • In-person or virtual information sessions.
  • All documents posted on the Public Registry.
  • Public notices of the participation opportunities, emails to the distribution list and updates on social media.
  • Agency-led comment period on the draft potential conditions.
  • Agency-led invitations for applications for funding.
  • The time limit for the Impact Assessment Phase is up to 300 days for an Agency led review process, and up to 600 days should the Project be referred to a Review Panel, unless the Agency determines additional time is required to cooperate with the provincial regulator.
  • The Agency will establish the time limits for this phase.
  • This Phase ends when the Agency issues its recommendations on potential conditions.

Phase 4: Decision Making

  • Inform the proponent and the public about the Decision Statement.
  • Increase public awareness of the reasons for the public interest determination made by the Minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada or Governor in Council, the decision statement and the potential conditions.
  • Posting of the Decision Statement by the Agency on the Public Registry, including the reasons for the public interest determination and potential conditions.
  • Posting on the Public Registry of the Decision Statement.
  • Public notices, email sent to the distribution list and updates on social media.
  • The Decision-Making Phase is a maximum of 60 days for a decision by the Minister, or 90 days if referred to Governor in Council, which starts following the posting of the Agency's recommendations on potential conditions.

Phase 5: Post Decision
If the Project is approved

  • Inform the public of follow-up and monitoring activities and results from follow-up program.
  • Inform participants of potential amendments to the Decision Statement.
  • Participants may take part in follow-up and monitoring activities, and inform the Agency of potential non-compliance.
  • Agency posts follow-up and monitoring documents to the Public Registry.
  • The proponent would need to obtain all other applicable regulatory approvals, including public participation opportunities led by other jurisdictions and federal authorities.
  • The Agency posts a notice inviting public comment on draft amendments to the Decision Statement. The decision included in the statement cannot be changed. The comments would inform whether the Decision Statement is amended.
  • The amended Decision Statement and reasons for amending would be posted on the Public Registry.
  • Public notices, email sent to the distribution list and updates on social media.
  • Comment period on potential amendments to the Decision Statement.
  • The Decision Statement will expire if the proponent does not substantially begin to carry out the project within a certain period. This period must be established by the Minister considering views provided by the proponent.
  • Follow-up documents are posted according to the schedule identified in the Decision Statement.

7. Participant Funding

Funding to support public participation is available. For information about the activities that are eligible for funding or to apply for funding please see the National Program Guidelines and application on the following page https://www.canada.ca/en/impact-assessment-agency/services/policy-guidance/participant-funding-program-national-program-guidelines.html.

Please note that while the opportunity to apply for public funding for the Planning Phase has closed, funding opportunities for subsequent phases will be advertised as they become available.

8. Contact Information

Comments and other documents received by the Agency or Review Panel will form part of the Project record and will be posted on the Canadian Impact Assessment Registry website. The Agency's Submission Policy determines what information can be shared publicly and what information should remain private. For more information on how we protect your privacy, please refer to the Agency's Privacy Notice. If you do not want your comment to be posted on the Public Registry, please contact the Agency before submitting your comment

The Agency office designated for administering the impact assessment of the Project is:

Impact Assessment Agency of Canada
Prairie and Northern Regional Office
Canada Place
9700 Jasper Avenue, Suite 1145
Edmonton, AB T5J 4C3
Tel.: 780-495-2037
Fax: 780-495-2876
Email: iaac.heartland.aeic@canada.ca

Document Reference Number: 53

Date modified: