To create or manage consultation requests, login to the ACO Digital Service (ACO DS).
From there, proponents can:
- create and submit a Pre-Consultation Assessment Request
- respond to a Request for More Information
- view a submission status
- submit a request for an Adequacy Assessment
- cancel a File Number for Consultation (FNC)
For more information regarding the login process and the ACO DS, contact the ACO DS Team at [email protected].
The procedural aspects of a duty to consult may be delegated to project proponents (proponent-led consultation) by the Crown. A proponent is defined as an entity or person who is seeking either:
- a Crown decision related to land and natural resource development
- an approval from the Alberta Energy Regulator’s (AER) specified enactments
Proponents that have been delegated procedural aspects of consultation or are contemplating seeking a Crown decision or AER approval related to land and natural resource management are encouraged to review the Government of Alberta's proponent guide to First Nations and Metis Settlements consultation procedures booklet.
The booklet provides details on the consultation process for regulatory applications for a wide range of developments, including:
- oil sands
- conventional oil and gas
- public infrastructure
- flood recovery / mitigation
The Government of Alberta's proponent guide to First Nations and Metis Settlements consultation procedures (PDF, 2.0 MB) will help determine if Indigenous consultation is required and to what degree.
It will also provide information relating to:
- administrative steps
- submission standards
- related requirements
Proponents that have been delegated procedural aspects of consultation or are contemplating seeking a Crown decision or AER approval related to land and natural resource management are encouraged to review the Government of Alberta’s 2019 Proponent Guide (PDF, 2.0 MB) and its related Overview of Major Changes (PDF, 311 KB).
- All applications received prior to 12 am on January 2, 2020 will be managed under the 2016 version of the Proponent Guide.
- The 2019 Proponent Guide is applicable to all Pre-consultation Assessment Requests received as of 12 am on January 2, 2020.
- Read the Amendment to the Government of Alberta’s Guidelines on Consultation with First Nations on Land and Natural Resource Management, July 28, 2014 (PDF, 213 KB).
- Read the Amendment to the Government of Alberta’s Guidelines on Consultation with Metis Settlements on Land and Natural Resource Management, 2016 (PDF, 212 KB).
Roles and responsibilities
Government of Alberta
The Aboriginal Consultation Office (ACO) directs, monitors, and supports the consultation activities of Government of Alberta departments such as Alberta Environment and Parks and Alberta Agriculture, Forestry and Rural Economic Development. In addition, the ACO supports consistent application of policy, process and best practices.
Alberta Energy Regulator
- conventional oil
- natural gas
- oil sands
- coal activities
REDA’s Section 21 excludes the AER from determining the adequacy of Crown consultation associated with the rights of Indigenous peoples as recognized and affirmed under Part II of the Constitution Act, 1982. This must be provided by the ACO.
Under provincial Ministerial Order, the AER is required to request advice from the ACO prior to making a decision on an energy application for which First Nations or Metis Settlement consultation is required.
The Ministerial Orders direct the AER to work with the ACO to establish and maintain operating procedures that set out how the AER and ACO will cooperate to administer and coordinate their work. These Joint Operating Procedures (JOPs) are setout in the information below.
The Joint Operating Procedures (JOPs) explain the roles and responsibilities of the Alberta Energy Regulator and the Aboriginal Consultation Office (ACO), with information sharing expectations.
Effective October 31, 2018, the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) and the Aboriginal Consultation Office (ACO) have updated the:
- Joint Operating Procedures for First Nations Consultation on Energy Resource Activities (JOPs) (PDF, 814 KB)
- Joint Operating Procedures for Metis Settlements Consultation on Energy Resource Activities (JOPs) (PDF, 815 KB)
The updates will help the AER and the ACO work together more effectively and efficiently, allowing proponents to experience a more streamlined process while ensuring the regulator has advice on the adequacy of consultation and whether actions may be required to address potential adverse impacts.
The Government of Alberta recognizes that the regulatory process of arm’s length legislative review tribunals, including the Natural Resources Conservation Board (NRCB) or Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC), may in some cases trigger a duty to consult Indigenous communities.
Where consultation is triggered in relation to applications made to the AUC or NRCB under their legislation, Alberta relies on the tribunal’s process to address potential adverse impacts to Aboriginal and treaty rights prior to making regulatory decisions.
Alberta has no formal role in the processes of the NRCB and AUC. However, Alberta notes that these tribunals have policies and procedures in place to ensure that affected persons can participate and have their concerns heard, and if appropriate addressed prior to decision being made.
Where a subsequent statutory decision by a Government of Alberta ministry is required on a project, Alberta may rely on the consultation that occurred in the tribunal’s process to assist in meeting any duty to consult owed by Alberta.
Landscape Analysis Indigenous Relations Tool
The Landscape Analysis Indigenous Relations Tool (LAIRT) is located within the Landscape Analysis Tool (LAT). LAT is an interactive, multidimensional mapping instrument that identifies base and sensitive landscape features and how they interact with a proposed location and activity being considered for development on Alberta government public land.
LAIRT will report on where government ordinarily considers requiring consultation with a particular First Nation or Metis Settlement, which is subject to be revised at any time.
The tool produces up to 3 reports per day for each email address, providing users an ability to:
- view and map a proposed project
- generate a mandatory LAT report for all Alberta public land disposition applications
The report produced by the LAIRT tool is not a pre-consultation assessment:
- it is not an official list of First Nations and Metis settlements to consult, and it does not delegate procedural aspect of consultation to the report's recipient
- it remains a project proponent's responsibility to obtain a Government of Alberta pre-consultation assessment
The tool does not contain or disclose land use information from or about First Nations or Metis Settlements. The information provided is current only as of the date of the report.
Steps and requirements
If you have a project that requires provincial approvals (that is, AER, AEP, AAF, etc.) for land and natural resource management, how do you know if you need to consult?
Step 1: ACO Pre-consultation Assessment – Is consultation triggered? With whom and at what level?
Proponents that are either seeking a Crown decision related to land and natural resource management or seeking an approval from the AER under the specified enactments (that is, Water Act, Public Lands Act, Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act) need to know if consultation is triggered, with whom and at what level. This is done by applying for ‘pre-consultation assessment’. For more information on how to apply to the Aboriginal Consultation Office, refer to the Proponent Guide to First Nations and Métis Settlements Consultation Procedures.
Alberta Energy Regulator activities
- a Pre-consultation Assessment request (used to determine whether consultation will be triggered by a proposed activity or project)
- an Adequacy Assessment request (used to determine whether proponent-led consultation is adequate or not)
Environment and Parks activities
Proponents seeking regulatory approval from Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP) for activities requiring a Water Act approval or licence will now use the ACO Digital Service to seek consultation requirements. This change coincides with the June 21, 2021, release of AEP’s Digital Regulatory Assurance System (DRAS) for Water Act applications.
Proponents seeking regulatory approval from AEP for activities requiring an Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act approval must continue to apply directly to AEP for consultation requirements.
Proponents seeking regulatory approval from AEP for activities requiring a Public Lands Act (except for agricultural dispositions) may continue to use the ACO Digital Service to seek consultation requirements.
Proponents seeking regulatory approval for an agricultural disposition must apply directly to AEP for consultation requirements.
Proponents seeking more information are advised to contact AEP.
Agriculture, Forestry and Rural Economic Development activities
Proponents seeking regulatory approval from Alberta Agriculture, Forestry and Rural Economic Development (AFRED) for activities falling under the Forests Act must apply directly to AAF for consultation requirements or to obtain more information.
Step 2: Undertake consultation
Proponents requiring provincial approvals for land and natural resource management may be required to undertake procedural aspects of consultation.
In general, procedures that may be delegated to a proponent include:
- providing First Nations and Metis Settlements with plain language information on project scope and location
- identifying potential short- or long-term adverse project impacts
- meeting with First Nations or Metis Settlements to discuss their concerns
- developing mitigation strategies to minimize and avoid adverse impacts
- Implementing mitigation measures, as directed by the regulator.
- creating a consultation record for Alberta, First Nations and Metis Settlements, including information on how specific concerns regarding adverse impacts have been addressed
Step 3: ACO Adequacy Assessment
The ACO is responsible for deciding the adequacy of consultation for activities requiring AER approvals. In other cases, ACO may provide a recommendation to a Crown decision-maker as to whether consultation is adequate. In assessing adequacy, the ACO will review information gathered during the pre-consultation assessment information review, the proponent’s consultation record and any information provided by the First Nation or Metis Settlement. The ACO will consider, at a minimum, if the following factors have been addressed:
- Were all identified First Nations and Metis Settlements provided project information and given an opportunity to participate in the consultation process?
- Did the proponent provide project-specific information within a reasonable time before approvals were required or before the project was scheduled to start?
- If the First Nation or Metis Settlement provided site-specific concerns about how the proposed project may adversely impact their Treaty rights and traditional uses, or Métis harvesting and traditional uses, did the proponent make reasonable attempts to avoid and/or mitigate those potential impacts?
- Did the proponent indicate how they intend to mitigate any potential adverse impacts to the exercise of Treaty rights and traditional uses, or Métis harvesting and traditional uses?
For more information, refer to the guidelines and Proponent Guide.
Indigenous consultation guide
The Government of Alberta's First Nations and Metis Settlement and Credibly Asserted Métis Communities Consultation Guide is intended to help Indigenous communities to understand Alberta’s consultation and regulatory processes, the ACO’s relationship with Crown decision-makers and Alberta Energy Regulator, and to participate effectively in Alberta’s consultation process.
The guide provides information about Alberta’s consultation and regulatory processes that is specific to the needs of Indigenous communities and explains the roles and responsibilities of all parties in the consultation process.
Connect with the Aboriginal Consultation Office, contact the office near you:
ACO contacts by region (PDF, 89 KB)
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