Navigable Waters Protection Program - Overview
The Transport Canada Navigable Waters Protection Program supports the regulation of works constructed or placed in, on, over, under, through, or across, navigable waters in Canada. Program staff across the country work to ensure that applications for approval of proposed works are reviewed and administered in accordance with the Navigable Waters Protection Act (NWPA) . In daily operations, the NWPP:
- Approves works that interfere with navigation built in, on, over, under, through or across navigable waters in Canada prior to their construction;
- Ensures the appropriate safety and warning lights, markers, etc. are used and maintained during construction and operation of various works;
- Oversees the removal of obstructions to navigation including unauthorized works;
- Applies the Canada Shipping Act 2001, Part 7 as the Receiver of Wreck.
Here is more information on NWPA requirements.
The Navigation Protection Act
The amendments to the NWPA received Royal Assent in December 2012, as a part of the Federal Government’s 2012, Bill C-45. These amendments will:
- change the name of this law to the Navigation Protection Act to reflect its historic intent;
- include a schedule which clearly lists the major waterways for which regulatory approval is required prior to the placement or construction of a work;
- allow proponents of works in non-scheduled waters to opt-in and seek approval of their proposed work to give them additional legal certainty by allowing them to choose; and
- expand the list of low risk works (like minor repairs on bridges) that can be pre-approved because they pose very little impact on safe navigation.
It is anticipated that the amendments to the NWPA will come into force in April 2014, under a new legislative name entitled the Navigation Protection Act (NPA). The NPA will apply primarily to works constructed or placed in, on, over, under, through, or across a scheduled navigable waters set out under the revised Act.
However, until such time, the Navigable Waters Protection Act remains in force and therefore, provisions for approvals of proposed works related to navigable waters continue to apply under the NWPA up to and until the NPA takes effect.
Applications for Works – now and in the future!
It is important to distinguish whether or not your work will be assessed for approval prior to April 2014 or from the actual date of April 2014 and onwards.
If you require information regarding a construction of a work in a navigable water prior to 2014 then you must adhere to the provisions under the current Navigable Waters Protection Act.
If you anticipate that your project may commence construction and require an application for review on or after April 2014, then this means that the NPA will likely apply and the NWPA will no longer be applicable to your project. For information pertaining to the legislative requirements for proposed projects come April 2014, please see the Navigation Protection Act - Frequently Asked Questions.
If your project application is under review as of the implementation date of 2014, then:
- your application will continue to be assessed under the NPA.
- for projects located on waters not listed on the schedule, you may continue to have your review processed under the NPA. However, should you choose to withdraw your application from the review process, be advised you are still subject to the Common Law right to navigate. (Link to Common Law definition and responsibilities of proponent to ensure common law right).
If you have specific questions pertaining to your project, please contact your respective regional office.
If you would like more information on the changes to the NWPA, please email us.
If you would like information on the consultation process for the Minor Works and Waters Order, please visit our regulatory framework page.
Transfer of Responsibilities to National Energy Board
As part of the Jobs, Growth, and Long-term Prosperity Act, amendments made to the National Energy Board Act (NEBA) and the Canada Oil and Gas Operations Act (COCGOA) transferred responsibilities for approving NEBA regulated pipelines and power lines that pass in, on, over, under, through or across any navigable water from the Minister of Transport Canada to the National Energy Board.
The transfer became effective July 3, 2013, when an Order in Council was rendered to formally transfer responsibilities. For additional information, please visit the National Energy Board website or contact them at 1-800-899-1265.
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