The province has introduced legislation aimed, in part, at reducing legal challenges over large resource projects.
The environmental assessment act, if it’s passed, will enhance public and Indigenous input, more fully assess positive and negative environmental effects of a project, and increase the clarity and certainty for project proponents.
Sonia Furstenau, MLA for Cowichan Valley said a climate test, First Nations rights and reconciliation, public involvement, and regional assessments are key priorities for the Green Party in this legislation.
On public involvement, Furstenau said it’s, “Informed by our experience in Shawnigan: Communities having a say from the very beginning and making it clear that that is not just a box to be ticked. That communities have a very real say in how things proceed.”
On a climate test, Furstenau said, “The notion is that, you can’t just say we are going to meet these targets and then, kind of, you know, cross your fingers and hope for the best. You actually have to build into your legislation, build into your decision making, the fact that, if projects are being proposed that significantly increase greenhouse gas emissions, they may not meet the climate test.”
Revitalizing the environmental assessment process in the province is a shared priority between the NDP government and the B.C. Green Party caucus, and is part of the Confidence and Supply Agreement.
George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy says the province is aiming to reduce the potential for legal challenges that impact the province’s economic development, erode public trust, alienate Indigenous communities and leave project proponents navigating through a costly, time-consuming process.