George Heyman, BC enironment and climate change minister

The British Columbia government has announced possible changes to how future major projects are reviewed in the provincial environmental assessment process, according to a press release. British Columbians have until July 30 to provide feedback.

The proposed changes are summarized in a discussion paper that is the result of three months of engagement and discussion with the newly formed Environmental Assessment Advisory Committee, government-to-government meetings with Indigenous groups, First Nations workshops, and meetings with key stakeholders: industry, environmental non-governmental organizations, local governments, EA practitioners and others.

Changes to the EA process are focused on three key outcomes:

  • enhancing public confidence, transparency and meaningful participation;
  • advancing reconciliation with First Nations; and
  • protecting the environment while offering clear pathways to sustainable project approvals.

“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, 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, B.C.’s revitalized EA process will create greater certainty with all EA participants, and will reduce the potential of conflicts, delays and litigation, according to Heyman.

Revitalizing the environmental assessment process is an important component of the Confidence and Supply Agreement with the B.C. Green Party caucus.

In addition to commenting on the discussion paper, the public is encouraged to participate in a survey to share their preferences for being kept up-to-date on projects undergoing an EA, including how they would like to learn about the new EA process when it is released.

A document outlining what was heard from all of the engagements will be released late summer 2018, with an intentions paper detailing the intended changes to B.C.’s EA process being released in early fall 2018.