Bulletin – Indigenous Consultation Framework
The AUC explained that it regulates the construction and operation of utility projects. The AUC has the authority to consider and address potential adverse impacts to Aboriginal and Treaty rights as provided in section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982, when deciding whether approval of a utility project is in the public interest. In doing so, the Government of Alberta also confirmed that AUC decisions might, in some cases, trigger a duty to consult Indigenous communities, and where consultation is triggered, the Alberta government relies on the AUC’s process to address potential adverse impacts to Aboriginal and Treaty rights.
The AUC indicated that it announced in Bulletin 2019-10: AUC Rule 007 – Initiation of a review and stakeholder consultation process, that it would review its processes and procedures to ensure that the application requirements for consultation with First Nations and Métis are clear.
In December 2019, the AUC released interim direction on Indigenous consultation (Bulletin 2019-20). Initial feedback received from Indigenous groups and industry indicated strong support for clear application requirements, alignment with the Alberta government’s consultation process and more opportunities for external participation in processes involving updates to Rule 007 and Rule 020.
The AUC’s goal was to complete additional, in-person consultation and implement updated processes and procedures with clear Indigenous consultation application requirements by the fall of 2020.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the need for physical distancing, the AUC is adjusting its engagement plan to gather input and advice while working remotely. In the meantime, the AUC indicated it is seeking input and advice on its draft Indigenous consultation framework, which can be found on the AUC website and on the Indigenous consultation page of the AUC’s Engage platform.
The AUC noted that input and advice on the draft framework should be submitted to the AUC by July 10, 2020, on the AUC’s Engage platform. The draft framework and feedback received will form the foundation for updating AUC processes and procedures.