Deborah Curran, Hakai Professor in Environmental Law and Sustainability
The British Columbia Legislature gave third and final reading, without any amendments, to Bill 18 – 2014, BC’s new Water Sustainability Act (“the Act”), on April 29 2014. This Bill is the long awaited overhaul of the water management and allocation regime in BC. After a four-year process involving a discussion paper, a policy proposal, consultation with stakeholders, and a proposed legislative framework, there are only a few surprises and disappointments. This summary provides a short overview with a focus on the pro-environment provisions, a strong statement about no compensation for changing existing water rights, governance approaches, continued reliance on provincial administration and thus resources, and no recognition of aboriginal water rights. It is a summary provided for information only and not a comprehensive analysis of the impact of the bill and changes to the existing Water Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 483.