Conference Proceedings

Public Participation in Alberta's Energy and Natural Resources Development: Is There Room for Improvement?

November 19, 2010, Calgary, AB

The Alberta government is currently involving the public in various provincial initiatives, from the review of its water allocation and management regime to the development of regional land use plans, such as the Lower Athabasca Regional Plan and the South Saskatchewan Regional Plan. Public consultations are also an integral part of the approval of industrial projects, from public consultation programs conducted by proponents to public hearings held by regulatory boards, e.g. in connection with proposed oil and gas developments or transmission lines. But to what extent is the public actually involved at various stages of the decision-making process for energy and natural resources development? How effective are the public participation processes? Is there room for improvement?

This public legal education conference will examine the nature and extent of public participation in the energy and natural resources development process in Alberta. The objectives of the conference are to:

  • Educate the audience about public participation opportunities at various stages in the natural resources development decision-making process;
  • Examine the foundations of public participation, e.g. why do we need public participation? Is public participation useful? What are the criteria for assessing the quality of existing public participation processes? How effective are these processes?;
  • Promote a dialogue between Albertans concerned about the future of Alberta's lands and natural resources and about the role the public should play in shaping that future; and
  • Identify options and ideas for reforms to current public participation processes.


Speakers and presentations

  • Tim Belec, Landowner (view presentation)
  • Cindy Chiasson, Executive Director, Environmental Law Centre, Edmonton (view presentation)
  • Shaun Fluker, Professor of Law, University of Calgary (view presentation)
  • Lisa M. Fox, Executive Director, Sustainability Resources Ltd. (view presentation)
  • Jodie Hierlmeier, Barrister and Solicitor, Edmonton (view presentation)
  • Jennifer Klimek, Barrister and Solicitor, Edmonton
  • Rob McManus, President, Fulcrum Strategic Consulting Inc., Calgary (view presentation)
  • Monique Passelac-Ross, Research Associate, Canadian Institute of Resources Law, Calgary (view presentation)
  • Morris Seiferling, Stewardship Commissioner, Land Use Secretariat, Edmonton (view presentation)
  • Glen Semenchuk, Executive Director, Cumulative Environmental Management Association, Fort McMurray (view presentation)
  • Nickie Vlavianos, Professor of Law, University of Calgary (view presentation)


  • Linda McKay-Panos, Executive Director, Alberta Civil Liberties Research Centre

The public at large, government representatives involved in public consultation initiatives (e.g. government departments, regulatory boards, municipalities), industry, and NGOs or groups with an interest in natural resources management in the province.

Funding provided by the Alberta Law Foundation.

Aboriginal Peoples and the Future of Water Management in Alberta Conference

June 10-11, 2010, Edmonton, AB

This public legal education conference is designed to take a look at asserted Aboriginal and treaty rights/responsibilities in relation to water and to discuss how these rights may fit into the current statutory regime in Alberta. The objective is to enhance the capacity of all parties to participate meaningfully in the ongoing review of the water management and allocation system. Various experts will be invited to present their views on Aboriginal perspectives on water, the existence and scope of Aboriginal rights to water, ways in which these rights currently are and could be accommodated in the regulatory regime pertaining to water, the issue of safe drinking water on reserve, and transboundary water issues.

The objectives of the conference are to:

  • educate the audience about the claims of Aboriginal peoples to water, in the context of the provincial review of the existing water allocation and water management system;
  • explain the challenges FNs are facing in the exercise of fundamental water rights;
  • foster a dialogue between all concerned by the future of water in Alberta;
  • identify options/ideas for a meaningful involvement of Aboriginal peoples in the review of the water allocation and management system.


  • Cindy Chiasson, Executive Director, Environmental Law Centre
  • Monique Passelac-Ross, Research Associate, Canadian Institute of Resources Law
  • Ron Maurice, Senior Partner, Maurice Law, Barristers & Solicitors


  • Andrew Bear Robe, Chief Executive Officer, Siksika Nation
  • Vivienne Beisel, Beisel Law Office (view presentation)
  • Gary Bohnet, Deputy Minister, Environment and Natural Resources, Government of the Northwest Territories and Trish Merrithew-Mercredi, Regional Director General - Northwest Territories, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (view presentation)
  • Marie-Ann Bowden, Professor, College of Law, University of Saskatchewan, and Linda F. Duncan, MP Edmonton-Strathcona, NDP Environment Critic (view presentation)
  • Don Deranger, Vice-Chief, Prince Albert Grand Council (view presentation)
  • Lisa M. Fox, Executive Director, Sustainability Resources Ltd. (view presentation)
  • Samuel Gargan, Grand Chief, Dehcho First Nations (view presentation)
  • Larry Innes, Executive Director, Canadian Boreal Initiative (view presentation)
  • Clayton Leonard, Associate, MacPherson Leslie & Tyerman LLP
  • Oliver MacLaren, Rae and Company
  • Dave McGee, Senior Policy and Implementation Manager, Alberta Environment (view presentation)
  • David Percy, Q.C., Borden Ladner Gervais Professor of Energy Law and Policy, Faculty of Law, University of Alberta (view presentation)
  • Merrell-Ann Phare, Executive Director and Legal Counsel, Centre for Indigenous Environmental Resources (view presentation)
  • George Poitras, former Chief, Mikisew Cree First Nation
  • Owen Saunders, Executive Director, Canadian Institute of Resources Law
  • Jerome Slavik, Ackroyd LLP
  • Roland Willson, Chief, West Moberly First Nation (view presentation)

Aboriginal representatives, the public at large, government representatives involved in water-related initiatives (e.g. federal and provincial governments, municipalities), industrial and commercial water users and any NGOs or groups concerned with the future of water resources in the province.

    Funding provided by the Alberta Law Foundation.

    Resource Development and the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act: The New Regime

    Materials from a Conference held in Calgary, Alberta, 17-18 June 1999
    prepared by John Donihee (Contributing Editor), Jeff Gilmour and Doug Burch. 2000. 281 pp. ISBN-13: 978-0-919269-49-1. $20.00 (softcover)

    The Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act (MVRMA) was called into force in December 1998, thus satisfying one of the most important commitments made by Canada when the Gwich'in and Sahtu Dene and Metis land claim agreements were settled. This new legislation has reordered the regulation of resource development in the Mackenzie Valley which comprises all of the NWT except the Inuvialuit Settlement Area. The MVRMA establishes new institutions of public government, including regional Land Use Planning Boards, Land and Water Boards and an Environmental Impact Review Board with jurisdiction over the Mackenzie Valley.

    This book provides a thorough and timely analysis of the new regulatory regime applicable in the Mackenzie Valley. It will be of assistance to managers of oil and gas, mining and other companies active in the Mackenzie Valley, government regulators, lawyers, consultants and members of First Nations. Based on a working paper prepared for a June 1999 conference and updated in July 2000, this text includes a comprehensive overview of the new statutory regime, case studies of the application of the MVRMA to hypothetical oil and gas and mining projects and also includes conference keynote addresses from leaders of First Nations, industry and government, as well as other resource materials.

    Mineral Exploration and Mine Development in Nunavut: Working with the New Regulatory Regime

    Materials from a Conference held in Calgary, Alberta, 11-12 December 1997
    prepared and edited by Michael J. Hardin and John Donihee. 1998. 160 pp. ISBN-13: 978-0-919269-46-0. $15.00 (softcover)

    Originally provided in draft form to registrants at a conference on mineral resource development in Nunavut held in Calgary on December 11 and 12, 1997, this text has been expanded to include keynote addresses by Nancy Karetak-Lindell, James Eetoolook, Hiram Beaubier and George Miller. It also incorporates timely and practical information about the new institutions of public government established under the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement, their relationship to the mineral exploration and development process.

    The book describes the structure of government in the new territory, and explains the composition, mandate and procedures of each of the key boards, tribunals and other entities which now administer the regulatory and environmental approval process for mineral development projects on Inuit owned land and Crown land.

    This publication will be an essential source of information to mining companies active in Nunavut, and will assist consultants, lawyers and regulators seeking an understanding of the new regulatory framework now established under the land claims agreement. 

    Disposition of Natural Resources: Options and Issues for Northern Lands

    Essays from a Conference held in Yellowknife, NWT, 12 September 1996
    edited by Monique M. Ross and J. Owen Saunders. 1997. 282 pp. ISBN-13: 978-0-919269-45-3. $10.00 (softcover)

    The essays in this volume were originally presented at a conference on Disposition of Natural Resources: Options and Issues for Northern Lands. The conference was convened by the Canadian Institute of Resources Law in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, September 12-13, 1996, and was sponsored by the Department of Energy Mines and Petroleum Resources (now Resources, Wildlife and Economic Development) of the Government of the Northwest Territories. The conference brought together an international group of experts from a range of disciplines to discuss the possible future of resource disposition in the north.

    The first part of the book sets the general context in which disposition systems must operate. Against this backdrop, Part 2 turns to a consideration of specific aspects of particular resource disposition systems. Part 3 addresses one of the fundamental issues now confronting resource managers in northern Canada - the question of local benefits flowing from natural resource developments. Finally, Part 4 of the book turns to the vital question of how and whether various resource uses can be integrated. 

    Law and Process in Environmental Management

    Essays from the Sixth Institute Conference on Natural Resources Law
    edited by Steven A. Kennett. 1993. 422 pp. ISBN-13: 978-0-919269-41-5. $10.00 (hardcover)

    Process issues are of critical importance in environmental management. Whether the objective is to consider environmental factors in project evaluation or policy development, to prevent pollution, to ensure sustainable resource development, or to reconcile competing interests and priorities in land use, attention to process is essential. Without appropriate processes, decision-making will lack legitimacy, and environmental conflicts will become increasingly bitter, costly, and protracted. As a result, the substantive goals of environmental policy will become significantly harder to achieve.

    These essays are organized around six topics that encompass the principal process issues for Canadian environmental management in the 1990s. These topics are: the environmental assessment process, the litigation process, international processes, Canadian interjurisdictional processes, access to decision-making, and northern and aboriginal processes. The essays analyse current law and policy in each of these areas and present proposals for legal and institutional reform. Thus, they are of direct relevance to policy-makers, lawyers, business people, consultants, academics, and members of non-governmental organizations working in the rapidly evolving field of environmental management. 

    Growing Demands on a Shrinking Heritage: Managing Resource-Use Conflicts

    Essays from the Fifth Institute Conference on Natural Resources Law
    edited by Monique Ross and J. Owen Saunders. 1992. 431 pp. ISBN-13: 978-0-919269-35-4. $10.00 (hardcover)

    This book of essays addresses the nature of resource-use rights and resource-use conflicts, with special emphasis on existing legal, economic, and institutional barriers to their resolution. These essays explore ways in which conflicts have been or might best be addressed, in both the Canadian and international contexts. The volume brings together legal and non-legal analyses to provide cross-disciplinary and cross-sectoral perspectives on problems and solutions associated with conflicting resource uses.

    These essays will be of interest to people concerned with resource development and the environment and, in particular, anyone who is involved as a regulator or as a participant in a conflict over the use of resources. 

    Public Disposition of Natural Resources

    Essays From the First Institute Conference on Natural Resources Law edited by Nigel Bankes and J. Owen Saunders. 1985. 366 pp. ISBN-13: 978-0-919269-14-9. $5.00 (hardcover)

    These essays deal with the problem of how dramatic changes in government policy have affected the legal climate in which natural resources are exploited. In these essays, leading writers on natural resources policy address a range of topics including systems for disposition of natural resources, crown interest holders, public/special interest participation, the negotiation of major natural resource developments, public resource corporations, and resource-use conflicts.

    This book will be of interest to anyone who works with land or natural resource interests held from the Crown, and to policy-makers concerned with disposition of Crown lands and resources.