Community, stakeholder and government relations
At Arbutus, we support our clients with leading practices for Indigenous, public and government engagement on projects, program development, and regulatory processes. We help build engagement strategies that are appropriate to the nature and size of the project and suited to community priorities, with a focus on establishing enduring relationships with mutual benefit.
We advise and support our clients whether they are participating or leading the consultation process for regulatory assessments in land & resource management initiatives, the clean energy, mining, oil & gas, transportation and infrastructure sectors and across diverse jurisdictions across Canada. Arbutus’ experience includes managing or supporting public and Indigenous consultation processes and studies for permitting and environmental assessment, navigating jurisdictional frameworks, land and resource planning, compliance and monitoring, and government-to-government processes. We design strategic engagement approaches that optimize our clients’ interests through the entire project lifecycle.
Arbutus’ advisors also help clients develop their internal capacity, and align their internal systems for successful project/program implementation. Where training is required, we provide a range of options from small, site-level workshops for key staff to developing enterprise-wide training systems and materials that provide a consistent approach to engagement and consultation, regulatory processes, interest-based negotiation, and conflict resolution.
Environmental assessment and permitting
Arbutus provides consultation and engagement services to effectively lead, participate or intervene through all phases of environmental/impact assessments and permitting processes. We have worked on numerous major project assessments and permitting processes in the mining, energy, oil & gas and infrastructure sectors.
The role of Indigenous nations, their rights and interests, has expanded in the new Canadian Impact Assessment process and the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) principles by the federal and some provincial governments. The identification of Indigenous valued components and potential issues is now conducted early in the process, requiring readiness at the outset and a strategy for addressing them effectively.
Our services include:
- Strategic counsel and representing clients in negotiations for various types of agreements: EA/IA participation (consultation) agreements, letters of intent, memorandums of understanding, project agreements/impact benefit agreements
- Developing and advising on regulatory strategy
- Review of project descriptions, information requirements/terms of reference, and assessment applications
- Early identification of Indigenous and Treaty rights and interests
- Characterizing and raising the profile of important community values
- Traditional and current land & resource use
- Developing work plans
- Applications for participant or intervenor funding from regulators and funding agreements with proponents
- Coordinating specialist review of environmental/impact assessment applications
We also offer training and seminars on the environmental/impact assessment (EA/IA) processes.
Indigenous, federal and provincial policy
Arbutus supports our clients in the development and implementation of internal policies and procedures related to lands and resources, and in the review and comment on proposed government policies and legislation.
The starting point is understanding and characterizing our clients’ important values, mandates and priorities relative to new policy initiatives – and supporting them to elevate those interests.
Some examples of our work include:
- Indigenous policies and procedures: natural resources, land and resource use, consultation, cultural heritage, organizational effectiveness.
- Review of government policies and legislation: environmental/impact assessment, mining, compliance & enforcement, monitoring & reporting, coal effluent regulations.
- Corporate sustainability and Indigenous policies and programs.
Social performance programs and management
Arbutus works with leadership teams to establish and manage leading social performance initiatives, such as:
- Creating fit-for-purpose social performance objectives and practices.
- Integrating social performance approaches into corporate policies and practices across business units and at all levels.
- Providing facilitated issues identification and management workshops to corporate and project teams.
- Managing engagement and involvement in critical incidents management.
- Developing relationship-management tools.
Land/resource use planning and management
We are experienced in government-to-government and regional land use planning in British Columbia, and working in these regions after land use plans are implemented.
Land use plans can be effective for sustaining communities, culture and economies in the broader context of optimizing ecosystem health. They typically seek to revitalize and sustain ecosystem biodiversity and TLU in balance with contemporary local land uses.
We work with our clients to:
- Characterize and prioritize important values, traditional and current uses.
- Achieve community, land & resource and environmental objectives for their important values.
- Ensure the client’s aspirations, objectives and interests are fully represented in the final plan.
Indigenous nations, companies and governments often find value in establishing agreements (e.g. protocol agreements, MOUs, IBAs) to manage their shared and respective objectives. Our advisors have several years of experience in negotiating, implementing, and monitoring agreements intended to:
- Increase understanding and develop a working relationship between the parties.
- Secure lasting mutual assurances by addressing priority areas of each party.
- Mitigate the potential to negatively impact environmental and/or socio-economic conditions.
- Produce tangible, meaningful benefits for all parties.