Environment Minister George Heyman (Black Press)

B.C. environment assessment getting an overhaul

Indigenous role to be enhanced, but not with veto, George Heyman says

B.C. Environment Minister George Heyman has appointed a 12-member advisory committee to review B.C.’s environmental assessment process, with an emphasis on keeping project approvals from being challenged in court by Indigenous communities.

Heyman announced the review Wednesday, emphasizing that while Indigenous people will have an increased role in decision-making, he does not intend it to mean a veto over resource development projects. He said the recent history of conflict and protest against industrial development suggests changes are needed.

“I think that’s because the public has lost confidence in the process,” Heyman said. “We’ve seen conflict with first nations, and industry has simply not known clearly what the conditions are.”

Heyman said already-approved projects, like the Trans Mountain oil pipeline expansion, and others that are in the Environment Assessment Office process, are not affected.

“We’re going to have timely approvals, and industry will know what’s expected of them so we don’t face lengthy litigation in the courts or lengthy fights in communities,” Heyman said. “We can move good projects forward to a timely conclusion.”

B.C.’s Environmental Assessment Office is working with the First Nations Energy and Mining Council on a review that will continue through April. There will be regional workshops involving Indigenous communities, industry, environmental non-government organizations, local governments, unions and others to make recommendations.

A discussion paper is to be released in May after the regional workshops are completed, and Heyman expects to have changes made before the end of 2018.

The advisory committee is co-chaired by Bruce Fraser, a former chair of B.C.’s Forest Practices Board, and Lydia Hwitsum, former chief of the Cowichan Tribes and former chair of the First Nations Health Council.

Other members include Mark Freberg, director of permitting and closure for Teck Resources, and Josh Towsley, assistant business manager of the International Union of Operating Engineers local 115.

Just Posted

Ministry defends proposed hunting restrictions

Options intended to balance population and allocation to move forward with input by April or May

Terrace RCMP Inspector Syd Lecky transferring to Kamloops

Departure likely months away, replacement process yet to begin

Province to boost ER services at Mills Memorial

Money to add salaried doctor positions

Province opens public input on policing standards

The move flows from recommendations of the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry

Terrace hockey player breaks all-time points record in Major Midget League

Prospects are bright for Mason Richey, suiting up this fall with the West Kelowna Warriors

Ottawa proposes restricted pot labels, packages

Packaging will include red stop sign with marijuana leaf and ‘THC’

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

B.C. Scientists witness first-ever documented killer whale infanticide

“It’s horrifying and fascinating at the same time.”

Okanagan Falls winery showing international photo project

Liquidity Wines will be sole Canadian show of National Geographic’s Photo Ark

Lawyer for one suspect in beating of man with autism says he’s not guilty

Ronjot Singh Dhami will turn himself in, lawyer said

Liberals awarded $100,000 contract to man at centre of Facebook data controversy

Christopher Wylie says his voter-profiling company collected private information from 50 million Facebook users

Facebook’s Zuckerberg admits mistakes in privacy scandal

Zuckerberg admits to privacy scandal involving a Trump-connected data-mining firm, but no apology

UPDATE: Former B.C. city councillor sentenced nine months for sexual assault

Dave Murray, convicted this past fall, hired a private investigator to intrude on the victim’s life.

Online threat to U.S. high school traced to Canadian teen

A 14-year-old girl has been charged in connection with an online threat against a high school

Most Read