From now until July 30, British Columbians will have the unique opportunity to shape the future of how major environmental projects are assessed in B.C., according to a news release issued by the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy.
British Columbians are encourage to provide feedback on recommended changes to B.C.’s environmental assessment (EA) process, which is focused on enhancing public confidence and meaningful participation and discourse and advancing reconciliation with First Nations, while protecting the environment while providing clear pathways to sustainable projects.
These key outcomes, per information provided in the news release, are the direct result of three months of engagement and discussion with the newly formed Environmental Assessment Advisory Committee.
Additionally, the outcomes have stemmed directly out of government-to-government meetings with Indigenous groups, First Nations workshops and meetings with key industry, environmental non-governmental organizations, local governments and EA practitioner stakeholders.
“We’ve worked extensively with First Nations, stakeholders and community representatives throughout B.C. to ensure the proposed changes to B.C.’s environmental assessment process do a better job of protecting British Columbians’ natural environment, health, heritage and societies, while continuing to attract investment and sustainably growing our economy,” said George Heyman, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy. “I’m looking forward to hearing from British Columbians from every corner of the province on the proposed changes, so we can be sure we get it right.”
By advancing reconciliation and working with First Nations across the province, B.C.’s revitalized EA process will supposedly create a stronger certainty with all EA participants, while reducing potential conflicts, delays and litigation.
The Government of British Columbia states that the revitalization of the environmental assessment process is of the utmost importance when it comes to the Confidence and Supply Agreement with the B.C. Green Party Caucus.
“Revitalizing the EA process will help advance reconciliation with First Nations and strengthen our ability to meet our climate targets,” said B.C. Green Party spokesperson Sonia Furstenau. “The proposal of a readiness gate that requires consultation with First Nations at the outset will help enable us to implement the Truth and Reconciliation Commission calls-to-action and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Strengthening the process of assessing a project’s compatibility with our climate targets will give climate change the prioritization it deserves by recognizing that meeting our targets is an absolute economic, environmental and moral imperative.
Ultimately, according to the news release, a document outlining public engagement will be released at the end of the summer, with an intentions paper detailing the intended changes to B.C.’s EA process being released in early fall, later this year.