The British Columbia Environmental Assessment Office (EAO) is pleased to announce that BC’s new Environmental Assessment Act, 2018 (the Act), is in force. The Act can be found here.
The Act and supporting regulations address the three major objectives of Environmental Act (EA) revitalization:
- advancing reconciliation with Indigenous nations,
- enhancing public confidence in the EA process, and
- continuing to protect the environment while offering pathways to sustainable project approvals.
The EAO has led extensive engagements with the public, Indigenous nations, and stakeholders through the EA revitalization to inform the Act and regulations. We appreciate the feedback received to date as it has helped us build a more robust and inclusive EA process.
Several features of the Act will increase transparency, public participation, and robustness of the EA process:
- A list of matters that must be considered in every assessment including, but not limited to, greenhouse gas emissions, risks of malfunctions or accidents, and positive and negative direct and indirect effects of the reviewable project
- Whether a proposed project promotes sustainability is now a required consideration for the Minister(s) at the readiness gate and for the final decision on a project;
- An increased requirement of four (4) Public comment periods, rather than two;
- Development of project-specific Community Advisory Committees as a venue for community input and to help surface concerns in the EA process (unless there is insufficient community interest).
For more information on the new Act and regulations please visit:
- Public portal: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content?id=D26690F7C19E43D6BDBDA60667672BC4
- Frequently Asked Questions on Environmental Act revitalization: (https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content?id=B0BB4772DC02487DA30ECA33D29AA035#EAA2018)
- Environmental Act revitalization public engagement summary: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content?id=F1085F4FE07E4386A2585D764C4EF649
The British Columbia Institute of Agrologists (BCIA) has been working on a significant collection of guidance documents to help guide the new process. These documents will be released as they become available, with a focus on those that are required in early stages of the Environmental Act process. This guidance has had substantial input from a wide audience of proponents, environmental assessment practitioners, Indigenous nations, and stakeholders. There is also a dedicated team of staff in the Victoria office that will be supporting the first projects that enter the new Environmental Act process, or to transition from assessments currently being administered under the 2002 Act. It is anticipated that there will be substantial “learning by doing” in the first months and BCIA will be updating their guidance to reflect these lessons learned “on the ground” and will welcome feedback on an ongoing basis.
BCIA will also be announcing ongoing learning and development opportunities early in the new year 2020. Watch the BCIA website as learning opportunities are announced and as guidance documents are released and refined.
Guidance materials specific to municipal governments will be available in early 2020. If you have any questions or concerns regarding the new Environmental Assessment process, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.