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

VIDEO: Internet famous Yukon-based bhangra dancer explores Vancouver Island

Gurdeep Pandher spreads joy through dance, forms cross-cultural connections amid pandemic

Build a new pool or fix the old? Port Hardy mayor wades in

‘… whatever we do going forward we want the support of the community’

Fear and ignorance have spiked racism in the province: B.C’s human rights commissioner

Kasari Govender has been virtually interacting with citizens in remote, rural areas to address concerns of discrimination

COVID-19 tests come back negative in remote First Nation community

“There are no suspected cases in the community at this time.”

53 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths cap off week of high infection rates in B.C.

Roughly 1,500 people are self-isolating because they either have COVID-19 or have been exposed to it

Unofficial holidays: the weird and wonderful things people celebrate around the world

On any given day of the year, there are several strange, silly or serious holidays to observe

Missing teen visiting Courtenay found safe

She had last been seen going for a walk on Aug. 6

Moving on: Tanev scores 11 seconds into OT as Canucks oust Wild

Vancouver beats Minnesota 5-4 to move into first round of NHL playoffs

Fitness non-profit challenges citizens to invent a game to be physically active

The campaign was launched after a study showed only 4.8 per cent of children and youths in Canada met required standards of the 24-hour movement guidelines

Gene editing debate takes root with organic broccoli, new UBC research shows

Broccoli is one of the best-known vegetables with origins in this scientific haze

VIDEO: U.S. Air Force pilot does fly-by for B.C. son amid COVID border separation

Sky-high father-son visit plays out over White Rock Pier

3 Vancouver police officers test positive for COVID after responding to large party

Union president says other officers are self-isolating due to possible exposure

New mothers with COVID-19 should still breastfeed: Canada’s top doctor

Dr. Theresa Tam made the recommendation during World Breastfeeding Awareness Week

Most Read