At the NBEN Eco-Confluence and AGA on November 14th, the Honorable Gary Crossman joined members for a question and answer session. After the event, we sent him your unanswered questions. Below are his written responses:


Q: Federal transit aid was rejected by the NB provincial government. NS, MB and SK as an example got a combined 57.1 million from the safe restart program. Why did Premier Higgs take advice only from Ontario Premier Ford and what will you do to rectify this? As you know cities like Saint John have had to cut their funding by many thousands of dollars.

A: The Government of New Brunswick recognizes the importance of public transit and we are working with our municipalities to advance their needs in a number of areas, and that includes public transit.

The Safe Restart Agreement includes funding specifically earmarked for local governments which must be cost-shared by the province. The Provincial allocation is $41 million for municipalities in New Brunswick, which can be used to address challenges they are facing with COVID-19, including costs related to public transit. We have also had discussions on other forms of public transit and to advance such ideas, we require flexibility from the federal government on infrastructure funding.

We are confident that municipalities will consider the needs of their transit systems as they decide how to use the funding that will be available to them from the Safe Restart Agreement.

Q: So much research shows that the proposed nuclear reactors (SMRs) will take more than 10 years to build. That is too long to wait to reduce GHG emissions. Why is the government so keen on SMRs, despite the evidence showing it’s an unwise investment?

A: Government remains committed in continuing to achieve real and meaningful GHG emissions while mitigating pressures on electricity rates.

In 2019, provincial emissions from electricity generation were 54% below 2005 levels. This is in large part due to continued investments in energy efficiency and clean energy sources including wind, biomass, landfill gas, hydro and nuclear.  In 2019/20, these clean sources supplied 80% of the electricity sold in New Brunswick. Developers are continuing to progress four community renewable energy projects totalling 78 MW. Some have been commissioned in 2020. Progress also continues on the actions identified in the NB Climate Change Action Plan.

New Brunswick wants to be a leader in the development of Advanced Small Modular Reactor technologies to provide options for future decarbonization efforts, reduce inventories of radioactive waste, support the development of variable renewable energy sources, and avoid the need for constructing Natural Gas generation, while fostering economic development opportunities proposed with the export of these technologies.

Q: What are the priorities to move forward the 2018-28 NB water strategy?

Q: Can you tell me what progress you expect to make on implementing NB Water Strategy over the next 12 months?

A: Water Strategy for New Brunswick 2018-2028” was released December 22, 2017. It contains 29 actions, organized according to five goals. The actions collectively define the water-related priorities over 10 years (2018 to 2028). The strategy is the result of two years of public, stakeholder and First Nation consultation.

Government is committed to ensuring the protection and management of New Brunswick’s water, now and in the future.

Progress has been made on a number of the 29 actions items such as:

  • Establishment of a recreational water monitoring program for provincial parks
  • Report on the current state of water quality in lakes and rivers, and
  • Improvements to wetlands management with the release of a new wetland reference map in January 2020.

Many actions included in the Water Strategy are of an ongoing nature, for example #24 & #25 involve working collaboratively with First Nations and Watershed Groups to share information on a regular basis. This will continue as me move into the new year under COVID protocols. Work will continue on the Shediac Watershed Management Plan. This project will help inform potential next steps in looking at a provincial watershed management approach. The department is looking to develop an approach to increase public education and awareness on drinking water protection.

A progress report will be released in the Spring of 2021.

Q: Would it be possible to have a provincial strategy to support coastal landowners with information and financial resources to deal with coastal erosion and flooding? People are still left to fend for themselves and here some homes are now at risk of being washed away during storms. Coastal stabilization using nature-based green infrastructure could be used as a way to combat climate change and protect coastal biodiversity. Too often, the only means people use is riprap and this poses a serious threat to biodiversity while providing only limited protection. A provincial and progressive strategy is needed.

A: The Department of Environment and Local Government encourages using nature-based infrastructure to mitigate the impacts of climate change and flooding through all bank stabilization proposals that are reviewed. The Environmental Trust Fund may also be an option for non-for-profit organizations to support landowners and educate with information/tools to deal with coastal erosion with bio-technical stabilization techniques.

Q: Are there financial incentives to help citizens switch to green energy? Currently, these technologies are quite expensive and difficult to make profitable, which can discourage many people.

A: The province’s energy efficiency and renewable energy programs are delivered by NB Power and can be accessed at the following link:

Q: Are there any upcoming plans to address the inadequacies in the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), as it is fairly out of date in comparison to the Federal Impact Assessment (IA). The current list of projects that must register for an EIA under Schedule A is lacking- we currently have 2 quarries that sit side by side on the Hammond River, both share a quarry face, share a transport route, and both are equal distance to homes, wetlands, and watercourses. One quarry required an EIA, the other did not, based on how the aggregate would be used OFF-SITE. Standardization of Conditions of Approval would also be an asset. Can you please elaborate on upcoming plans to improve environmental impact regulations?

A: Since coming into force in 1987, the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Regulation, NB Clean Environment Act has proven to be an effective regulatory tool to ensure that projects subject to EIA are implemented in a sustainable manner. 

As you indicate, projects requiring EIA review are those identified in Schedule A of the Regulation.  For projects that do not require an EIA (i.e. those not identified in Schedule A), the Department is also responsible for a variety of other regulatory programs (e.g., Watercourse and Wetland Alterations (WAWA); Authorizations and Compliance, etc.) that offer the ability to regulate project activities in the context of potential environmental impacts such as impacts to wetlands, watercourses, and air and water quality from project emissions, etc. 

The EIA Branch currently has a variety of standard conditions that are considered for all projects undergoing EIA review which are reviewed to ensure they remain relevant and effective over time and are updated as necessary.  Further, for all projects subject to EIA review, project-specific conditions are developed and considered during the review to address potentially significant project impacts, should the project receive approval to proceed.  You are correct that sometimes it may appear as inconsistent application of the EIA Regulation when two projects of the same sector (e.g. two quarries) require different regulatory approvals, however let me assure you that the regulatory approval process is determined based on the specific project details and location.    

While we always look to continuously improve the EIA process, there are currently no plans to update the EIA Regulation.

Q: In your response to a previous question, you mention the new wetland mapping which increases the number of areas identified as wetland. However wetlands continue to be filled in because the present legislation let’s you damage regulated wetland if it’s smaller than one hectare or you replace it with a 2 to 1 ratio which is part of the present legislation. I approve the new mapping, but the legislation needs to change in order to protect the sensitive wetland. Will your department take the lead and put in place a more stringent legislation to protect wetlands?

A: Wetlands that are sensitive are identified as Provincially Significant Wetlands (PSWs) through the New Brunswick Wetland Conservation Policy (2002). The Policy aims at preventing the loss of PSW’s and the net loss of wetland functions for all other wetlands. Impacts to these non-PSW wetlands are only considered as a last resort when all other options of avoidance and minimization were considered.

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