In 2010, the Environmental Law Centre released the “Environmental Assessment in BC” report, a legal research and law reform project on British Columbia’s environmental assessment (EA) process.
Provincial EA legislation applies broadly across British Columbia to industrial, mine, energy, water management, waste disposal, food processing, waste disposal, transportation and tourist destination resort projects. It applies equally to urban projects like the RAV line construction and Gateway program in Vancouver, and remote northern mines and hydroelectric developments. As a key sustainability-planning tool, the EA process must balance a range of competing environmental, social and economic values and interests. To be credible, it must strive for inclusiveness, transparency, accountability, scientific rigour, and cost effectiveness. Good assessment practice proactively avoids or mitigates environmental harm. Designing and administering a legal regime that strikes an appropriate balance between these competing values is an ongoing challenge.
The overall objective of the project was to identify ways to improve the environmental assessment legislation and process, and propose options for law and policy reform, drawing on best practices in other Canadian jurisdictions and internationally. The report focused on following five issues: Triggers and Scoping; Public Participation and Engagement; Oversight and Decision-making; Compliance Monitoring, Reviews and Appeals; and Innovations to Improve Efficiency and Effectiveness.
For more information, see Environmental Assessment Project Weblog or Environmental Assessment Project Information Sheet. This Project was supported by a grant from the Law Foundation of British Columbia.