Over the last decade, there has been increasing awareness and concern at local, national and international levels in relation to the effects that human activities have on the environment. In response, Canadian governments at the federal, provincial/territorial and municipal levels have enacted environmental legislation which has impacted industry doing business in Canada. In order to undertake any business venture in Canada, businesses need to be aware of mandatory requirements, limitations, prohibitions and penalties contained in relevant environmental legislation.

In Canada, the federal and provincial/territorial governments share jurisdiction over the environment. The most extensive environmental legislation is found at the provincial level and varies among provinces. The federal government primarily regulates fisheries, toxic substances, species at risk, trans-boundary issues such as the protection of migratory birds, and projects within federal jurisdiction, such as those occurring on federally owned lands. Municipalities can also regulate matters affecting the environment within municipal boundaries such as the use of pesticides or waste water management. It is frequently the case that a project will have to meet regulatory requirements of more than one regulator or jurisdiction, and a particular environmental violation may trigger enforcement action from multiple regulators.

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