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.

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

Just Posted

Climbers compete for Choc and Chalk

Annual competition attracts more than 100

Cowichan resident with dementia breaks silence on stigma in Alzheimer Society campaign

“I don’t think I’ve encountered stigma as much as I’ve encountered a lack of understanding”

Cowichan’s Achurch named all-star MVP

LMG goalie and teammate Scott help VISL beat FVSL

Indian Day School survivors can now submit claims for $10K-$200K in compensation

Anyone who is part of the class action is being encouraged to start the process now

Kids across Canada more at risk of hospitalization from flu this season: doctor

Dr. Theresa Tam said influenza B does not usually peak until February or later

BC Ferries hybrid ships arrive in Victoria on Saturday

The battery-operated vessels will take over smaller routes

Theft victim confronts suspects with baseball bat on Vancouver Island

RCMP in Nanaimo seek to identify of two people alleged to have used a stolen credit card

Closed mills, housing surge support a positive forecast for lumber industries

B.C. lumber producers have closed mills accounting for 18% of province’s capacity, RBC report says

Good Samaritan pays part of rent for B.C. woman facing eviction in can-collecting dispute

Zora Hlevnjak, 76, supplements her pension by collecting cans and receiving public donations

Kelowna’s ‘Baby Mary’ finds biological parents after more than 30 years

Geneologist and DNA test helped her connect with her biological parents

Kelowna hotel to award couples for baby-making with Nooner deal

The deal includes a free stay every Valentine’s Day for the next 18 years

Clerk bruised, traumatized after armed robbery at Nanaimo liquor store

Few details on male suspect in Wednesday incident, says Nanaimo RCMP

One last blast of winter tonight for parts of the Island before temperatures on the rise

A snowfall warning is in effect Friday including east Vancouver Island.

Most Read