Gaz Métro serves over 300 municipalities across Quebec. Gaz Métro’s activities may have impacts on and consequences for some local communities, in terms of safety, quality of life or environmental quality.
This is why Gaz Métro maintains an ongoing dialogue with stakeholders, particularly neighbours of the natural gas network and Quebec municipalities. Based on discussions with stakeholders, for Gaz Métro, the two components of social acceptability are the provenance and production methods of natural gas, and how the organization conducts its projects in the community. This section focuses specifically on the social acceptability of Gaz Métro's projects.
For more information on the provenance of natural gas, please see Gas supply.
Social acceptability of projects
The question of projects’ social acceptability is becoming more and more important in the public sphere, and Gaz Métro knows that an additional effort is required.
Because of the nature of its activities, Quebec’s energy situation and Gaz Métro’s strong presence on many construction sites, it cares about taking external stakeholders’ concerns into account to enhance its projects.
As every project is unique, having a reflection process that is tailored to its specific context is important. In all cases, the planning stage is the key to fostering social acceptability. Better identification of the issues and stakeholders upstream means better integration of the project.
An internal process was developed in collaboration with the primary actors in the construction, major project, sustainable development, and public and governmental affairs sectors. The outcome was an agreement to:
- raise awareness and train project teams on the concept of social acceptability, the impact of projects on communities, best impact mitigation practices, and communication of information to stakeholders;
- identify environmental, social and economic issues and affected stakeholders as much in advance as possible. Click here for an overview of the criteria used in analyzing projects’ social acceptability;
- explore the issues and resulting tangible impacts in work groups;
- find ways to mitigate the impacts and facilitate a project's acceptance in its community; and
- plan for tailored communication methods to keep project stakeholders informed in a timely manner.
In fiscal 2015, use of this evaluation grid for major projects helped identify about thirty projects that were more sensitive on the social acceptability front, which then received closer monitoring.
Although this approach is still in development, it has yielded excellent results to date. The process helped make internal teams aware of social acceptability issues, and integrate this variable in existing processes. Gaz Métro plans to continue to work on process monitoring to enhance consideration of social acceptability in its projects.