Our Role in Integrated Resource Management Under the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act (MVRMA)

The regulatory regime in the NWT, compared to those in Canada’s provinces, is relatively new, and its genesis is very different from most of the regulatory regimes in southern Canada.

In sharp contrast to the provinces, the regulatory regimes in the NWT came about as a direct result of the negotiation of comprehensive land claim agreements and are based on two principles:

a)    Integration and coordination; and

b)    Co-management of resources between governments and Aboriginal groups.

The regulatory regime established in the NWT is part of a broader integrated resource management system as defined in land claim agreements and which involves Crown and private land management, land use planning, permitting and licencing, environmental assessment, and wildlife and renewable resource management (see figure below).


Courtesy of

There are two regulatory regimes in the NWT: one is established pursuant to the Inuvialuit Final Agreement and the other is established pursuant to the Gwich’in, Sahtu and Tlicho final agreements and entrenched in the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act.

The Mackenzie Valley Resources Management Act (MVRMA) has created and provided authorities to co-management boards to carry out land use planning, regulate the use of land and water and, if required conduct environmental assessments and reviews of large or complex projects.  It also provides for the creation of a Cumulative Impact Monitoring Program (the NT CIMP) and an environmental audit to be conducted once every five years.

The Land and Water Boards of the Mackenzie Valley

The Land and Water Boards of the Mackenzie Valley regulate the use of land and water, and the deposit of waste, through the issuance and management of Land Use Permits and Water Licences.  There are four land and water boards in the Mackenzie Valley Region that perform these functions, but in different jurisdictions.

They include the:

The Gwich’in, Sahtu and Wek’eezhii Land and Water Boards (Figure 2), act as regional panels of  the Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board in issuing land use permits and water licences on public and private lands in their respective areas.

Figure 2 The Land and Water Boards of the Mackenzie Valley 

The MVRMA also applies in the regions of the Northwest Territories where the Dehcho First Nations, Akaitcho First Nations, and the NWT Métis Nation continue to negotiate their rights and interests.  Ad hoc Section 103 Panels of the MVLWB issue permits and licences in these areas.

Additional Roles and Responsibilities of the Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board

The MVLWB has additional duties with respect to:

  • Reviewing and issuing permits and licences for transboundary projects;
  • Ensuring consistent application of the MVRMA up and down the Mackenzie Valley; and,
  • Regulating land and water use in the unsettled claim regions.

As required, the regional panels from the GLWB, the SLWB, the WLWB and the ad hoc Section 103 Panel come together to address these and other matters.  The full Board of the MVLWB holds two meetings per year and at any time may need to come together in different configurations to address transboundary applications. 

The Section 103 Panel meets regularly to make decisions respecting applications in the unsettled claim regions.   The Board is also responsible for administering land use permits and water licences that were issued prior to the MVRMA.

The MVLWB is supported by staff at the MVLWB Yellowknife office as well as staff from the Regional Panels as required.