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.

BC legislature

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

Just Posted

Back in play: Columbia Shuswap Regional District reopening playgrounds

Signs with reminders about COVID-19 regulations will be posted

RCMP seek to identify person of interest in Salmon Arm arson investigation

Police believe a June 4 residential garage fire was deliberately set

Salmon Arm demonstrators show unity with Black Lives Matter movement

Participants speak out against systemic racism and targeting of vulnerable populations

Revelstoke, North Okanagan RCMP team up to nab Alberta man, stolen BMW

Helicopter, dogs used in North Okanagan highway arrest

Salmon Arm West bridge construction expected to begin in fall 2020

Budget for Highway 1 project up $20 million over intial 2016 estimate

March dental conference key to many of B.C.’s COVID-19 cases

Early infections from China, Iran were quickly contained

Vancouver Island First Nations gather to remember woman fatally shot by police

Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council requests an independent investigation

Penticton Search and Rescue respond to six calls in less than a week

Two hikers rescued in early morning search near Greyback Lake latest in series of searches

Regional District of Kootenay Boundary rescinds all Grand Forks-area evacuation orders

Evacuation alerts for 1,136 Boundary properties remain in effect as officials monitor forecasts

MAP: Dr. Henry reveals which B.C. regions have seen most COVID-19 cases

B.C. health officials release a first look at how the novel coronavirus has reached all corners of the province

In photos: Modified, yet traditional graduation gives Penticton graduates a sense of normalcy

Students around Penticton take part in pre-recorded graduation ceremonies

Filming to resume safely later in June: Okanagan Film Commission

Film commissioner Jon Summerland said they want to start filming again later in June

Kelowna RCMP investigate woman’s sudden death

Criminality is not suspected at this time, according to RCMP

Most Read