Railway Line Construction
The Canadian Transportation Agency approves specific railway line construction projects. If a railway company intends to construct a railway line, it must file an application with the Agency pursuant to section 98of the Canada Transportation Act (CTA) for an approval.
For railway line construction projects requiring an approval, the Agency may grant the approval if it considers that the location of the line is reasonable, taking into consideration the requirements for railway operations and services and the interests of localities that will be affected by the line.
For railway line construction projects of 32 km or more, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency may initiate an environmental assessment pursuant to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012 (CEAA 2012).
For railway line construction projects subject to CEAA 2012, the Agency can only proceed with approval under Section 98 once an environmental assessment has been conducted and if it has been determined that the project will not cause significant adverse environmental effects.
In all cases, the proponent railway company is responsible for demonstrating to the Agency that the requirements of section 98 of the Canada Transportation Act are met.
Interest of Localities
The CEAA 2012 came into force on July 6, 2012, replacing the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (S.C. 1992, c. 37) and removing the requirement for an environmental assessment of railway construction projects less than 32 km.
Following the legislative changes, railway companies were consulted regarding the Agency’s proposed approach to applications under section 98 of the CTA, resulting in an understanding that railway companies remain responsible for demonstrating to the Agency that the requirements of that provision are met, whether an environmental assessment is required or not.
The Agency adopted the following approach, indicating that railway companies will:
- undertake consultations with the localities with a view to developing collaborative measures to address the relevant issues raised;
- consult with municipalities, adjacent landowners and Aboriginal groups, when and as applicable;
- provide information to allow an adequate understanding of the project and to ensure that consultations are meaningful;
- provide the Agency with a detailed account of these consultations and any agreements put in place to address objections that may have been raised; and
- identify issues where no agreement was reached and that must be dealt with by the Agency.
For further information, please consult the following documents:
- Railway Line Construction: A Resource Tool
- Relocation of Railway Lines in Urban Areas: A Resource Tool
Additional information on CEAA 2012 can be found at the Overview of the Canadian Environmental Assessment 2012 on the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency’s website.