Occasional Papers: 10-19

Crown Consultation with Aboriginal Peoples in Oil Sands Development: Is it Adequate, Is it Legal?

by Monique M. Passelac-Ross and Verónica Potes, 2007.
52 pp. Occasional Paper #19. $15.00 (softcover)

The environmental and social impacts of oil sands development are generally well documented. As the development intensifies, concerns over these impacts have multiplied. Because oil sands operations in the Athabasca region are located on lands traditionally and currently used by First Nation and Métis peoples, these impacts particularly affect the local Aboriginal communities. Aboriginal peoples have raised concerns about environmental and socio-economic impacts since the early days of oil sands development in the 1960s. Unfortunately, these effects are not well understood and are only beginning to be documented. The question this paper seeks to address is the following: how is Alberta fulfilling its constitutional obligations to consult and accommodate Aboriginal peoples in the oil sands development process?

Closing the Performance Gap: The Challenge for Cumulative Effects Management in Alberta's Athabasca Oil Sands Region

by Steven A. Kennett, 2007.
61 pp. Occasional Paper #18. $20.00 (softcover)

This paper comments on the origins and record of the multi-stakeholder Cumulative Environmental Management Association (CEMA) and the Regional Sustainable Development Strategy for the Athabasca Oil Sands Area, initiatives launched in the late 1990s to address the cumulative environmental effects of oil sands development in Alberta. There is clear evidence of a growing gap between expectations regarding these initiatives and their performance. Opportunities for closing this gap include improvements in the efficiency and effectiveness of CEMA, a stronger role for the Government of Alberta in providing leadership and support, and attention to underlying obstacles to cumulative effects management.

Integrated Landscape Management in Canada: Getting from Here to There

by Steven A. Kennett, 2006.
49 pp. Occasional Paper #17. $15.00 (softcover)

Integrated landscape management (ILM) has been proposed as means of overcoming the fragmentation and incrementalism in decision-making that present virtually insurmountable obstacles to cumulative effects management across much of Canada and in other jurisdictions worldwide. In common with concepts such as integrated resource management and ecosystem-based management, ILM adopts a holistic and forward-looking approach to managing the land and resource uses that may affect ecological, social, cultural and economic values. The analysis and practical examples presented in this paper are intended to provide specific guidance for moving forward with the implementation of ILM.

Wildlife Corridors and the Three Sisters Decision: Lessons and Recommendations for Implementing NRCB Project Approvals

by Steven A. Kennett, 2005.
33 pp. Occasional Paper #16. $15.00 (softcover)

The Three Sisters decision, issued by Alberta’s Natural Resources Conservation Board (NRCB) in 1992, approved a major recreational, tourism and residential development in the Town of Canmore. One condition of approval was that wildlife movement corridors be maintained across the Three Sisters property. This paper describes the origins and evolution of the controversy surrounding this requirement and presents recommendations for strengthening the implementation process for NRCB decisions.

The Trapping Rights of Aboriginal Peoples in Northern Alberta

by Monique M. Passelac-Ross, 2005.
79 pp. Occasional Paper #15. $20.00 (softcover)

This paper investigates the legal nature of the trapping rights of treaty beneficiaries in Alberta, with a focus on Treaty 8, signed in 1899. It examines different interpretations of the right adopted by the courts, by Aboriginal peoples, by government and by various experts and documents the erosion of the right resulting from government regulation and resource development. Finally, it suggests a more generous interpretation of the trapping right as a right to sustain a moderate livelihood.

Spinning Wheels in the Castle: A lost Decade for Sustainability in Southwestern Alberta

by Steven A. Kennett, 2003.
55 pp. Occasional Paper #14. $15.00 (softcover)

This paper reviews four important land-use decisions that have occurred in the Castle River area of southwestern Alberta over the past ten years. These decisions highlight risks to ecosystem sustainability in the Castle and significant deficiencies in the existing management regime. The paper then turns to recent and ongoing management initiatives, evaluating the extent to which the Government of Alberta has responded to the recommendations and conclusions from the past decade of decision-making. It concludes that that Alberta government appears content to spin its wheels on the implementation of its ‘commitment’ to sustainable resource and environmental management in the Castle, while allowing incremental development and increasingly intense human activity to threaten important environmental values.

Oil Sands, Carbon Sinks and Emissions Offsets: Towards a Legal and Policy Framework

by Steven A. Kennett, 2003.
24 pp. Occasional Paper #13. $15.00 (softcover)

The development of Alberta's oil sands will result in significant greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. This paper summarizes the implications of this development for Canada's emissions profile and reviews briefly the rationale for biotic carbon sequestration as a means of offsetting GHG emissions. The paper then turns to eight important issues for sinks-based offsets. These issues are: (1) the legal foundation for biotic carbon sequestration; (2) the risk of project failure and leakage; (3) monitoring and verification; (4) market intermediaries; (5) environmental risks; (6) land-use conflicts; (7) the alignment of regulatory requirements, policies and incentives; and (8) collateral benefits and strategic objectives. While some of these issues were identified in the federal and Alberta climate change plans released in 2002, these plans fall far short of establishing a comprehensive legal and policy framework for sinks-based offsets. The paper concludes by arguing that this framework should include carbon rights legislation, a regulatory and certification regime, and non-market mechanisms to increase biotic carbon sequestration. The promotion of sinks-based offsets should also occur as part of an integrated approach to resource and environmental management.

Aboriginal Peoples and Resource Development in Northern Alberta

by Monique M. Ross, 2003.
32 pp. Occasional Paper #12. $15.00 (softcover)

This paper is the final component of a multifaceted research project on legal and institutional responses to land and resource use conflicts in Northern Alberta. The paper evaluates the situation of forest-based Aboriginal communities faced with intensifying resource development in the northern boreal region of Alberta. It considers the extent to which the rights and interests of Aboriginal Peoples are acknowledged, protected and accommodated in the provincial resource allocation and development process.

Integrated Resource Management in Alberta: Past, Present and Benchmarks for the Future

by Steven A. Kennett, 2002.
35 pp. Occasional Paper #11. $15.00 (softcover)

Integrated resource management (IRM) is currently being promoted in Alberta in response to resource-use conflicts and the challenges relating to cumulative environmental effects. The Alberta government's ongoing IRM initiative was launched in 1999. An important component of that initiative has been the development of "regional strategies" in two areas of the province. The release in January 2002 of a draft provincial framework for regional strategies marks an important advance for IRM. If approved and implemented, this framework will lead to additional regional strategies across Alberta. This paper argues that the history of IRM in Alberta provides some important lessons that are directly relevant to the current IRM initiative.

Legal and Institutional Responses to Conflicts Involving the Oil and Gas and Forestry Sectors

by Monique M. Ross, 2002.
38 pp. Occasional Paper #10. $15.00 (softcover)

This paper examines the inter-sectoral conflicts and ecological impacts resulting from the development of oil and gas and forestry resources in Alberta's boreal forest region and evaluates the legal regime under which the two resource sectors operate. It argues that current policies, legislation and regulations are inadequate to meet the challenge of intensifying resource use and increasing ecological impacts. Structural reforms to the legal and policy regime and clear political leadership are required in order to achieve the effective integration and sustainable development of oil and gas and forest resources. Integration of development activities is seen as a way to minimize the collective industrial footprint on the landscape and protect the health of ecosystems, as well as to reduce operational and planning costs and resolve inter-sectoral disputes.