Public Review of Saskatchewan’s Draft Environmental Code

The Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment is initiating a public review of the draft Saskatchewan Environmental Code. This is the next key step in implementing a new results-based approach to environmental regulation.

“The ministry has embarked on an ambitious journey to reinvent how it regulates, oversees and manages impacts on the environment and natural resources,” Saskatchewan Environment Minister Dustin Duncan said. “The code is a critical element of the results based approach, which includes increased transparency and stronger accountability tools, more attention on high-risk areas, improved client service and ultimately, enhanced environmental management.”

The results-based model focuses on required environmental outcomes and encourages innovation by making the proponent accountable to find the best way to achieve or exceed the required outcomes. The Saskatchewan Environmental Code, the first of its kind in Canada, will provide guidance on the design of environmental systems and facilities. It has chapters describing the acceptable results and standards for particular activities associated with development.

Three pieces of legislation – The Environmental Management and Protection Act, The Forest Resources Management Act, and The Environmental Assessment Act – were updated to support the results-based approach. The Management and Reduction of Greenhouse Gases Act, which is new legislation, also requires the development of code chapters. All four pieces of legislation were passed, but not proclaimed, in the spring 2010 legislative session. Once required sections of the code are completed, the new legislative framework will be brought into effect.

“I wish to recognize the commitment and participation of stakeholders and Aboriginal groups that have been so critical to our success in developing the draft code to this point,” Saskatchewan Environmental Code Development Committee (CDC) Chair Wayne Clifton said. “The public review stage now provides an opportunity for the broader public and all interested parties to contribute to the development of the code.”

The development of the code has been a collaborative effort involving various companies, associations, provincial and federal government agencies, environmental non-governmental organizations, municipalities, First Nations and Métis communities, academia and knowledgeable private individuals. In all, more than 200 experts and industry leaders were involved, directly or indirectly, in the development of this code.

“I think this approach to regulation can work, provided that there is a commitment by all of us – business people, governments, regulators and citizens – to recognize environmental protection as the top priority,” Saskatchewan Environmental Society board member Ann Coxworth said. “This means acknowledging that a healthy economy can exist only within the context of a healthy environment. The public review period is an important opportunity for people to let us know whether that commitment is there.”

An online introductory document, code executive summary and the 19 code chapters have been posted to the ministry website at for public review and comment. Stakeholder and Aboriginal meetings are being held January 30 in Regina; February 2 in Prince Albert; and February 3 in Saskatoon. The intent is to have the first edition of the code approved and the legislation proclaimed in 2012.

Code development is continuing. Work on additional chapters addressing other subject areas including linear developments, works in or near water and hazardous substances storage have already begun


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