British Columbia’s new Environmental Assessment Act

The Environmental Assessment Office (EAO) is pleased to announce that British Columbia’s new Environmental Assessment Act, 2018 (the Act), is now in force.

The Act can be found here.

The Act and supporting regulations address the three major objectives of EA revitalization: advancing reconciliation with Indigenous nations, enhancing public confidence in the EA process, and continuing to protect the environment while offering pathways to sustainable project approvals.

Several features of the Act will increase regulatory certainty for certificate holders – for example, Environmental Assessment Certificates can now be amended by the EAO at the recommendation of a permitting agency, creating efficiency in the regulatory continuum. The EAO will continue to coordinate compliance and enforcement activity with our regulatory partners using modernized compliance and enforcement tools that will enhance our established compliance and enforcement program.

BC is committed to process consistency and regulatory certainty and recognize that you will want to know more about how the Act will affect certificate holders. The following resources are currently available:

– An overview of the new EA process is set out in our Intentions Paper, with Post-Certificate change described on page 23.

– Frequently Asked Questions on EA revitalization are available here.

– Frequently Asked Questions on the transition process to the new Act are available here.

The EAO have been working on a significant collection of guidance documents that will help guide the new process that will be released as they become available – with a focus on those that are required in early stages of the EA process and for the administration of existing certificates. This guidance has had substantial input from a wide audience of proponents, environmental assessment practitioners, Indigenous nations, and stakeholders. There is also a dedicated team of staff in this office that will be supporting the first projects that require, for example, an amendment, extension, or certificate transfer. We anticipate that there will be substantial “learning by doing” in the first months and will be updating our guidance to reflect these lessons learned “on the ground” – as such we will be welcoming feedback on an ongoing basis.

The EAO will also be announcing ongoing learning and development opportunities early in the new year. Watch the EAO website in the coming weeks as learning opportunities are announced, and as guidance documents are released and refined.