When the use of B.C.’s natural resources intersects with the protection of our natural environment, British Columbians expect their government to make decisions that are transparent, responsible and, above all, in the public interest.
We’ve recently introduced new measures we believe will restore the public’s trust in the way government manages our natural resources.
Our new Environmental Assessment Act will bring about a strong and transparent environmental assessment process, based on science. The decisions we make about resource development affect the air, land and water we value. We have a responsibility to our children and grandchildren to pass along a healthy environment, and that’s why concerns such as sustainability, climate impacts, community health and safety, and effects on future generations will all be addressed in future assessment decisions. The general public and Indigenous communities will be able to participate meaningfully and companies will be able to get good projects reviewed and ready more quickly.
Local and Indigenous communities, as well as project proponents, will be engaged much earlier in the new process. This is to everyone’s benefit. The time for the public and Indigenous peoples to flag questions or concerns about a project is at the beginning, not well down the road after companies have already developed project designs. This way, companies can incorporate feedback into project designs early, eliminating the need for costly design changes or expensive litigation later on.
The new process will provide more public comment periods as well as funding to support public participation. There will be independent reviews of the evidence and science put forward by proponents, and Indigenous knowledge and values will be incorporated. Overall, there will be shorter timeframes to get projects assessed and decisions made. And where a project requires both provincial and federal approval, we will work with the federal government to reduce redundancies while retaining independent, final decision-making authority.
The collaborative partnership with Indigenous groups will advance reconciliation through a consent-based process that must be considered and addressed by ministers when we make decisions. This is so Indigenous peoples can share in the economic prosperity of a robust, sustainable resource sector, while their rights, values and culture are respected.
Another important way we’re increasing public confidence in resource management is by improving the way we regulate the qualified professionals who make decisions in the natural resource sector.
New legislation we’ve introduced will improve the professional reliance model by aligning and consolidating oversight of regulated professions integral to the model. This includes agrologists, technologists and technicians, engineers and geoscientists, biologists and foresters. Our aim is to ensure that roles, responsibilities and expectations of qualified professionals are clear. This will improve public trust in the professional reliance model and provide industry the certainty it requires to continue to generate jobs in a healthy economy.
The legislation we’ve introduced for both the environmental assessment process and regulating qualified professionals is designed to get responsible, sustainable projects approved in B.C. more quickly and efficiently, so communities can prosper, Indigenous peoples can prosper and people can have good jobs, all while ensuring environmental responsibility.