What is Marine Planning?
Photo by Felix Willie
Photo by Felix Willie
The Canadian Institute of Planners define planning as securing physical, economic and social efficiency, as well as the health and well-being of communities regarding the use of land including resources, facilities and services.
Photo by Michelle Valberg
Marine use plans are also produced by approaches to planning based on principals of the ecosystem and biodiversity which recognize the interconnections between all living things and their direct relationships to the physical environment. These approaches closely reflect a more natural and traditional land and resource management system.
All plans are characterized by the spatial “weighting” of conservation, as well as cultural and economic needs and values, with specific management recommendations made for areas of similar ranking. These areas are often termed “management zones.”
Plans can be creative in the categorization of zoning, but common zones used in Canadian land use plans include special management zones, general use zones, conservation zones and multiple-use areas.
The marine use planning process that is used to create the plan is also governed by widely accepted principles and practices. Ideally it is based on an inclusive exercise whereby local communities, rights and stakeholders and governing bodies come together to share their values and visions for how the land and waters should be used. Other guiding principles of successful planning processes include transparency, a participatory nature, comprehensive issue identification and the systematic gathering and assessment of descriptive information for a region. As much of this descriptive information is place-based, where mapping and Geographic Information System mapping (GIS) have become critical tools used for managing and analyzing information within the marine use planning process.
There are many things that must be done to achieve the mandate of the NMRPC, as defined by the NILCA and in consultation with Nunavimmiut. Before the NMRPC can complete a Marine Use Plan it must define the planning policies, priorities and objectives that define the mandate, values, goals and performance of the Nunavik Marine Region Planning Commission (NMRPC). By working with Nunavimmiut, the NMRPC must develop a Marine Planning Strategy document that will enable the NMRPC to effectively develop and implement a Nunavik Marine Region Marine Use Plan (NMRMUP) for the Nunavik Marine Region (NMR) that reflects the needs and desires of current and future generations of Nunavimmiut.
A draft of this document has been prepared. In the future, the NMRPC will find many ways to engage with its planning partners, the public and Nunavimmiut to ensure that the strategy document represents their values and beliefs, as well as their goals and objectives, for the Nunavik Marine Region.
The plan will be referred to as the Nunavik Marine Region Marine Use Plan (NMRMUP). The purpose of the Nunavik Marine Region Marine Use Plan is clearly stated in Part 6.3.2 of the NILCA:
To protect and promote the existing and future wellbeing of those persons and communities resident in or using of the NMR, taking into account the interests of all Canadians and to protect and, where necessary, to restore the environmental integrity of the NMR.
Plans are detailed documents containing text, tables, maps and images. Consultations with Nunavimmiut will be summarized in the plan, highlighting important issues and concerns. The plan will be available in hardcopy, online, and will also be represented in an online searchable database for the public.
There is a lot of additional consultation, data collection, mapping and data analysis that must be done before a draft plan can be prepared and then shared.
The first plan that will be shared with Nunavimmiut will be called the “draft marine plan”. The plan is a draft until the NMPRC can conduct public hearings on it, evaluate it, and revise it as needed. Once a satisfactory draft plan is ready it moves on to the Minister of CIRNAC and the Kativik Regional Government’s Minister of Renewable Resources. These Ministers may provide feedback that requires revisions to the draft plan.
Depending on the nature of the feedback the NMRPC may accept or vary the comments or may need to consult stakeholders again.
Once the Federal and Territorial Ministers agree with the plan it goes to their Cabinets for approval and commitment.
The NMPRC is responsible for ensuring the plan is followed and that any projects proposed in the Nunavik Marine Region conform to the plan.
If a project proponent disagrees with the NMRPC on any conformity determination, they can go to the appropriate Federal Minister for an exemption. Should they provide the exemption, the Minister involved must provide the NMRPC with the rationale and they must make this rationale public.
The Marine Use Plan is intended to give the NMRPC the ability to:
Photo by Robbie Ningiuruvik
Implementation of plans is achieved by the NMRPC because they are responsible for reviewing all applications for project proposals to determine whether they are in conformity with the plan(s). Project proposals that are not in conformity with the plans (and/or are not given an exemption from the appropriate Minister) cannot proceed further. Projects that are not in conformity, or do not have an exemption from the appropriate Minister, also do not go to the NMRIRB for screening.
In the absence of an approved Marine Use Plan for the NMR, the NMRPC role is to determine whether a project is exempt from screening by the Nunavik Marine Region Impact Review Board (NMRIRB).
Projects that are not exempt from screening are, in accordance with its authority under the NILCA, forwarded to the NMRIRB and subject to screening by the NMRIRB. The NMRPC can also consider cumulative effects in their decision, even if a project is exempt as outlined in Schedule 7-1 of the NILCA. Where the NMRPC has concerns respecting the cumulative impact of a proposal on other development activities in a planning region we can refer the project to the NMRIRB for screening as per 7.3.3 of the NILCA.
The work of the Institutions of Public Government (IPG) and the processes outlined in the NILCA are to ensure full and meaningful engagement of Nunavik Inuit and to ensure their awareness of all activities occurring in their region.
Government, Makivik, LNUKS, RNUKS or any person affected by the plan can propose amendments to the plan.
The NMRPC will review the requested amendment(s) and if a review is needed will proceed with a public hearing on the requested amendment(s). After the public process is complete the NMRPC can accept, reject or amend the request before sending it to the Federal and Territorial Ministers for review and approval. Ultimately, the Ministers must approve the amendment before it becomes part of the plan.
In the case of the islands in the NMR the majority (80%) are largely all owned in fee simple by Makivik Corporation (see Article 12 of the NILCA) on behalf of Nunavik Inuit, and approximately 20% of the lands are retained by the Crown and may require federal land access permits.
Project proponents must ensure they obtain the appropriate Entry and Access permits from the landowners before they undertake their activities.