Strategic environmental assessment of the Operation Return Home project
The objective of the Operation Return Home project is to return evacuees from four First Nations in Manitoba located along the shores of the Fairford and Dauphin Rivers and Lake St. Martin (Lake St. Martin, Little Saskatchewan, Dauphin River and Pinaymootang) to their communities. In 2011, Manitoba experienced one of the most severe and extensive floods on record. As of October 2016, nearly 1,900 people from these four First Nation communities remain evacuated.
Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC), in partnership with the Government of Manitoba and the leadership of the four First Nations, has initiated projects to rebuild communities. These projects include diking and flood mitigation, construction of housing, community buildings and supporting infrastructure, and environmental and drainage studies.
For more information on the status of 2011 flood recovery
As required by the Cabinet Directive on the Environmental Assessment of Policy, Plan and Program Proposals, a strategic environmental assessment (SEA) was conducted for this project in order to identify and assess the environmental effects of implementation. Overall, the SEA concluded that the positive effect of the project is construction of a safe and healthy environment for members of the affected First Nations. Negative environmental effects will be mitigated through specifications in contracts for construction and demolition.
Below is a summary of the SEA findings:
Positive Environmental Effects:
- Positive effects will result from the replacement and rehabilitation of buildings and infrastructure, creating safe, healthy environments for First Nations members.
Negative Environmental Effects:
- Construction may affect local physical and biological components of the environment in specific project areas.
Mitigation and Assessment
- Pursuant to Section 67 of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012, environmental effects of demolition and re-construction will be assessed under INAC's Environmental Review Process.
- Appropriate mitigation measures will be put in place through contract specifications.
Indirect Environmental Effects
- Flood-affected buildings and infrastructure currently remain derelict, posing health and safety risks to people and risks of environmental contamination.
- Decommissioning and/or demolition of buildings, fuel storage tanks, septic fields, and other infrastructure will be done in accordance with applicable federal and provincial regulations.
- Terms of reference for project contracts should clearly identify appropriate waste removal and disposal processes.
- Comprehensive sustainable community planning should be put in place so that community assets put in place by Operation Return Home will be maintained.
For more information on the SEA