Major Works Order

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In February 2018, the Government of Canada introduced proposed legislation (Bill C-69) which would enact the Impact Assessment Act and the Canadian Energy Regulator Act, amend the Navigation Protection Act, and make consequential amendments to other Acts.

Bill C-69 would put in place better rules to protect our environment, fish and waterways, and rebuild public trust in how decisions about resource development are made.

Proposed changes to the Navigation Protection Act proposed in Bill C-69 would create a new Canadian Navigable Waters Act (CNWA). This new Act would:

  • restore and better protect your right to move freely over Canada’s waterways
  • advance reconciliation with Indigenous peoples
  • create more accessible and transparent decision-making processes

We recognize that there are certain types of works that generally have a higher likelihood of causing substantial interferences to navigation. To address these higher risk works, the proposed Canadian Navigable Waters Act would require that owners planning to construct, place, alter, rebuild, remove or decommission a “major” work apply for an approval to the Minister of Transport.

What we heard

During our review of the Navigation Protection Act, we heard from Canadians and Indigenous peoples that we must:

  • broaden the scope of the Act
  • protect all navigable waters from works with a high potential to impact navigation

What are works under the CNWA?

Works include any structure, device or thing — temporary or permanent — made by humans that is in, on, over, under, through or across any navigable water. They can be small works like docks or large works like dams.

What is a major work?

Major works would be those that are likely to substantially interfere with navigation. Under the proposed Canadian Navigable Waters Act, the Minister of Transport would make an Order to designate which works are major and require approval on any navigable water. The new Major Works Order will be published if the proposed Act passes into law.

Proposed approach

The Major Works Order would ensure that works that substantially interfere with navigation require an approval, even if they are located on a navigable water that is not listed in the Schedule of the Act.

Any work listed in the Major Works Order would go through the same review process we use to assess proposed works on navigable waters listed in the Schedule.

If an owner wanted to construct, place, alter, rebuild, remove or decommission a major work, they would need to:

  • publish a public notice
  • put information about the project in a new public registry
  • apply to Transport Canada for approval

To address any concerns about navigation, approval would be subject to terms and conditions set by Transport Canada.

Share your views

We're seeking your feedback on which works should be included in the Major Works Order. We're also looking for feedback on the criteria we should use to assess whether to include a work on the Order, such as its size, impact to navigation, or safety.

Potential major works

We are considering the following classes of major works that are likely to pose a substantial interference to navigation:

  • Aquaculture sites
    • Note: we are not considering works that don't interfere with navigation, including works that are flush with the bed of the waterway (for example predator netting)
  • Bridges that may block navigation, either during their construction or operation
    • Includes movable-span bridges, and floating spans
    • Temporary works used for constructing the bridge, and which block navigation, are also being considered
  • Causeways (raised roads) that block or prevent navigation
    • Includes causeways that bisect a navigable water
  • Dams or water control structures of a certain size that completely block navigation
    • Includes water control structures built for the purpose of generating electricity
    • We have identified low-head dams designed to allow an overflow at the top of the structure, and create a hydraulic effect on the downstream side, as posing high risks to navigation safety
  • Ferry cables, including overhead ferry cables and submerged ferry cables
  • Other categories
    • If there are other types of works you'd like to see included, we would love to hear from you!

We look forward to your comments on the potential classes of major works identified in this discussion paper. We will consider all feedback to ensure the Major Works Order captures works that are likely to pose a substantial interference to navigation.

Please share your views at Let's Talk Navigation or by contacting us at by January 15, 2019.