Environment Minister George Heyman (Black Press)

B.C. environment assessment getting an overhaul

Indigenous role to be enhanced, but not with veto, George Heyman says

B.C. Environment Minister George Heyman has appointed a 12-member advisory committee to review B.C.’s environmental assessment process, with an emphasis on keeping project approvals from being challenged in court by Indigenous communities.

Heyman announced the review Wednesday, emphasizing that while Indigenous people will have an increased role in decision-making, he does not intend it to mean a veto over resource development projects. He said the recent history of conflict and protest against industrial development suggests changes are needed.

“I think that’s because the public has lost confidence in the process,” Heyman said. “We’ve seen conflict with first nations, and industry has simply not known clearly what the conditions are.”

Heyman said already-approved projects, like the Trans Mountain oil pipeline expansion, and others that are in the Environment Assessment Office process, are not affected.

“We’re going to have timely approvals, and industry will know what’s expected of them so we don’t face lengthy litigation in the courts or lengthy fights in communities,” Heyman said. “We can move good projects forward to a timely conclusion.”

B.C.’s Environmental Assessment Office is working with the First Nations Energy and Mining Council on a review that will continue through April. There will be regional workshops involving Indigenous communities, industry, environmental non-government organizations, local governments, unions and others to make recommendations.

A discussion paper is to be released in May after the regional workshops are completed, and Heyman expects to have changes made before the end of 2018.

The advisory committee is co-chaired by Bruce Fraser, a former chair of B.C.’s Forest Practices Board, and Lydia Hwitsum, former chief of the Cowichan Tribes and former chair of the First Nations Health Council.

Other members include Mark Freberg, director of permitting and closure for Teck Resources, and Josh Towsley, assistant business manager of the International Union of Operating Engineers local 115.

Just Posted

Two Oak Bay officers recognized at 10th anniversary of anti-impaired driving program

Alexa’s Team has grown from 26 members in 2008 to the current 2,400

UPDATE: Recycling truck destroyed by fire in Victoria

Emterra truck sitting on McLure Street in residential neighbourhood, driver safe

Victoria Shamrocks acquire NLL and MSL all-star

Rob Hellyer brings offensive power to the Shamrocks

VicPD cuts school liaison program over budget impasse with Esquimalt

Six officers, including three school liaisons, to be reassigned to frontline duties

Vancouver Island is home to some of the ‘rattiest’ cities in B.C.

Three municipalities in Greater Victoria, and three more around the Island have gnawed their way into the top 20

VIDEO: B.C. man recognized for spinning basketball on toothbrush

Abbotsford man holds world record for longest duration of time of 60.5 seconds

Former Social Credit MLA dies at 88

Lyall Hanson was mayor of Vernon in 1981 and moved to provincial politics from 1986-96

Police searching for escaped prisoner in B.C.

Ralph Whitfield Morris, 83, is serving a life sentence for second-degree murder

B.C. set to introduce pot laws, but years of fine tuning likely: minister

Legislation regulating recreational marijuana is expected to be introduced Thursday

Sights of Saanich bring smiles to Japanese delegation

A small leap highlighted the short but potentially historic visit of a… Continue reading

Arrests made after truck crashes into unmarked police cars in Nanaimo

Two men facing numerous charges after allegedly fleeing scene on the mid-island

Canadian driver uses lawn chair as driver’s seat, gets caught

Ontario police detachment caught the male driver during a traffic stop

B.C. moves to restrict pill presses in opioid battle

Minister Mike Farnworth says federal law doesn’t go far enough

Most Read