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

GALLERY: Highlights from the 2018 Fernie Fall Fair

Local cooks and bakers show off their culinary skills; fibre artist spins a yarn

GALLERY: 2018 Fernie Chautauqua hailed best yet

About 8000 people embraced the century-old tradition in Fernie last week

Sparwood Skatepark officially opened

Locals call new skatepark a ‘priceless addition’ to Sparwood

U.S. Court upholds Teck ruling

Teck appealed a previous decision that the company must pay $8.25 million in the Tribes’ court costs

Ghostriders welcomed home

Fernie Ghostriders win 5-3 in front of a sold out crowd during home opener

Conservation officer frees B.C. deer from flotation gear mishap

BC Conservation Officer Service is reminding residents to keep backyards clear of entanglements

Czarnik nets 3 as Flames dump Canucks 5-2

Calgary picks up exhibition win over Vancouver

Ottawa to name new ambassador for women, peace and security, Freeland says

Chrystia Freeland also confirmed Canada would spend about $25 million to fund number of initiatives

‘A little bright spot:’ Ottawa residents rescue dog trapped beneath rubble

Freelance journalist says rescue of a dog trapped under rubble was happy ending amid chaos in Ottawa

B.C. deaf community wants different sign languages on federal accessibility act

Advocates also want Indigenous Sign Language to be recognized on the Indigenous Language Act

UBCM Convention inspires City of Fernie

Cannabis legalization, policing and green innovation among topics discussed at UBCM Convention

VIDEO: B.C.-born firefighter remembered by MP in emotional speech

Family asks first responders to look after one another in wake of suicide, growing concerns of PTSD

Airline has ‘close call’ with drone while en route to B.C. airport

Jazz Aviation reported the drone sighting near Vancouver to the RCMP and Transport Canada

Tragic accident claims life of B.C. toddler

Fundraising effort has been created to help mom and family

Most Read