A gold seeker uses a rocker box for placer mining in the 19th Century, the activity that sparked European settlement of British Columbia during a series of gold rushes. (Wikimedia Commons)

OUTLOOK 2020: New B.C. rules for environment, Indigenous consultation

Placer mines, work camps have new restrictions on water use

The B.C. government’s new environmental regulations have taken effect, with new standards for public and Indigenous consultation for industrial projects that apply in 2020.

The NDP government’s overhauled Environmental Assessment Act is in force as of December, in what Premier John Horgan has described as the first of many laws amended to conform to the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The province became the first jurisdiction in the world to commit to implement UNDRIP during the fall legislature session.

Environment Minister George Heyman said more work remains to make environmental assessment work as intended. One issue he identified when the law was amended was that Indigenous communities often have overlapping territorial claims, and don’t agree with one another about whether an industrial project should proceed.

“Additional regulations to address dispute resolution, application of Indigenous knowledge and other concerns to Indigenous people are being developed in collaboration with Indigenous leaders and nations in a process guided by the new Declaration o the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act,” Heyman said.

RELATED: B.C. begins overhaul of environmental assessment

RELATED: Indigenous rights first task for 2020, Horgan says

Environmental assessment must now include additional comment periods and earlier collaboration between the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office and local communities. The province has legislated requirements to consider economic, social, cultural and health effects of projects, including the province’s ability to meet greenhouse gas emission targets.

The new assessment procedure promises to keep the previous government’s “one project, one assessment” approach between federal, provincial and Indigenous jurisdictions, although “each jurisdiction retains its decision-making authority,” the ministry said in a statement this week.

Also in effect are new regulations for using water in mineral exploration and small-scale placer mining operations, which have historically not required provincial permission. The new rules limit the size of an unregulated exploration or mining camp to 20 people.

The ministry can also require a permit “if there is a risk of potential impacts to streams, other authorized water users or cultural heritage resources, such as sites that have historical or archaeological significance to a community or Indigenous peoples.”


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislature

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

COVID-19 greatly impacts future of seasonal workers

Faced with job loss and lack of financial support, many overseas workers were forced to return home

Fernie Rotary supports Days for Girls

The Rotary club donated $250 towards the Fernie chapter of the international organization

The importance of staying active during self isolation

Maintaining an exercise regime is critical to mental health during stressful times

Elk Valley holds on to hope while pandemic ensues

Weeks into the COVID-19 crisis, communities in the Elk Valley continue to find ways to spread joy

B.C. firefighters only responding to most life-threatening calls during COVID-19 pandemic

The directive comes after province spoke with paramedics, fire services, according to top doctor

Here’s how to talk to people who aren’t taking physical distancing seriously

Approach the conversation with empathy says conflict expert

B.C. clears more acute hospital beds as COVID-19 case growth slows

Province holding about 40% of beds empty for peak still to come

As 500K+ apply for emergency benefit, Trudeau says aid coming for Canadians left behind

Canada Emergency Response Benefit provides $2,000 per month

UPDATE: UK PM Boris Johnson moved to intensive care after COVID-19 symptoms worse

He has been quarantined in his Downing St. residence since being diagnosed with COVID-19 on March 26

Travellers, travel agents ‘in agony’ over refund policies and customer service

Many Canadian carriers are offering customers flights rebookings or travel vouchers — but not refunds

Introverted and extroverted kids likely to react differently to COVID-19 restrictions

B.C. child psychologist says your parenting approach can’t be one-size fits all in social isolation

B.C. begins taking submissions for $2M COVID-19 research fund

Rural health, impact of shifting hospital resources among priorities

Wearing non-medical masks can stop spread of COVID-19 before symptoms start: Tam

Health officials had previously not recommended wearing them

Most Read