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Government to review environmental assessment process

Environment Minister George Heyman and Premier John Horgan address the media about Alberta Premier Rachel Notley's ban on imports of B.C. wines on February 7th. Photo by Global BC/Facebook
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VICTORIA, B.C. — Environment Minister George Heyman announced today that the provincial government will be reviewing B.C.’s environmental assessment process.

Heyman said that the intent of the review, which will be led by a committee, is to ensure that First Nations’ legal rights are respected and that a strong, transparent process meets the public’s expectations. The government said the committee will review and make recommendations by focusing on enhancing public confidence and transparency in the review process, advancing reconciliation with First Nations, and protecting the environment while supporting sustainable economic development.

“We are working to ensure First Nations, local governments and the general public can meaningfully participate in all stages of a revitalized environmental assessment process,” said Heyman. “Our government wants to ensure we have a process that’s transparent, science-based, timely and provides early indications of the likelihood of success. This work will also contribute to our government’s commitment to fully implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. We’ll be working with Indigenous groups at every step of the revitalization process.”

The committee will be made up of a number of members, including Association for Mineral Exploration president and CEO Edie Thome, Teck Resources director of permitting and closure Mark Freberg, International Union of Operating Engineers Local 115 assistant business manager Josh Towsley, and nine others.

The Environmental Assessment Office will work with the First Nations Energy and Mining Council to ensure a revitalized environmental assessment process advances reconciliation. At the same time, the FNEMC will lead a series of regional workshops with First Nations.

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The EAO will also be leading government to government meetings with First Nations and inviting key stakeholders, including industry, environmental non-governmental organizations, local governments, labour and others, to gather specific feedback about their views, experiences and proposed measures to revitalize the environmental assessment process.

Following the initial engagement phase, a discussion paper will be developed to capture feedback, including recommended changes to the process. Those changes are expected to be unveiled this fall. Heyman added that any environmental assessments already underway will continue under the current criteria.

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