The development of rules and procedures under the Act is being ushered along by a Regulatory Advisory Committee (the "RAC"), composed of participants from industry, environmental groups, aboriginal peoples organizations, and provincial governments. The purpose of this report is to make recommendations to the RAC and others identifying some of the issues regarding the collection and storage of, and access to, environmental legal information. Our objective is threefold:
(a) to foster the development of information systems that facilitate and promote access to environmental and environmental legal information;
(b) to assist the RAC to address information issues quickly and effectively, regarding both its own information systems and its recommendations regarding other information systems; and
(c) to promote awareness of the urgent necessity of addressing the challenges and opportunities presented by automated information technologies with respect to environmental and environmental legal information.
In Part II, we present an analysis of (a) the RAC's regulatory development information and (b) the forthcoming environmental assessment information under the Act, and characterize this information as "legal information." We argue that, as legal information, this information should be subject to the Principles of Public Access to Legal Information developed by the Canadian Legal Information Centre.
In Part III, we provide a preliminary discussion of environmental legal information under the Act using an information systems approach. The potential users and their information needs are outlined and the implications of the burgeoning automation of information systems are discussed. Part IV is an outline of issues regarding the development of the Registry created under the Act to facilitate public access to records relating to environmental assessments.
In Part V we present a discussion of the relationship between the information issues directly facing the RAC and the information issues regarding other environmental consultation processes. Part VI concludes with a reminder (to ourselves as well as others) that as is important as it is to improve the information systems regarding environmental legal information, we cannot forget that often the environmental decision-making has suffered less from a lack of information as from a lack of wisdom -- knowing what to do with information.