The contaminated soil landfill near Shawnigan Lake that was the centre of protests for years was finally shut down in 2017. The professional reliance model was used in granting its permit. (File photo)

The contaminated soil landfill near Shawnigan Lake that was the centre of protests for years was finally shut down in 2017. The professional reliance model was used in granting its permit. (File photo)

Professional reliance model: what do you think?

Model review part of deal for Green Party to support NDP government

The government is seeking public input into its review of the province’s professional reliance model.

The new NDP government decided in October that it would review the current practice of relying on professionals who work for companies to also provide environmental assessments of the companies’ projects.

Sonia Furstenau, the Green MLA for Cowichan Valley, encouraged people to have their say on the issue.

She had taken issue with the use of the model to allow operations at the now closed contaminated soil dump near Shawnigan Lake to proceed, despite the community’s concerns about impacts to their drinking water.

“This is very important to me in terms of why I decided to run in the last provincial election, and the agreement we made with the NDP to review this policy,” Furstenau said.

“We need to give stakeholders the opportunity to provide input as part of this review. Ultimately, this has to be about restoring the public’s trust in the government’s decision-making processes. The lack of trust leads to uncertainty, unrest in communities and endless court actions.”

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The public engagement process, which closes on Jan. 19, asks B.C. citizens about the role of qualified professionals in the natural resource sector.

Additionally, the review will have questions for qualified professionals themselves, and ask for contributions from professional associations and those who use qualified professionals in their projects.

Feedback collected from citizens, stakeholders and qualified professionals will be considered, along with findings from a review of current legislation and best practices in other jurisdictions.

After the public feedback process closes in January, the government will analyze the results and make a summary report available to the public.

A final report is expected to be completed in the spring of 2018.

The public can contribute their input at: http://engage.gov.bc.ca/govtogetherbc/consultation/professional-reliance-review/

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