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

PHOTOS: Grieving Langley widow, with teen boy, shares a story of angels

Walnut Grove’s Rick Rozdeba’s hospice story evoked tears and brought the crowd to its feet.

Hells Angels invited to rally by anti-SOGI organizer

The Culture Guard group has helped Hells Angels in the past, said its executive director.

Langley foot race blends love of running and animals

Cat mom and long-time shelter volunteer speaks to excitement for Sunday run.

Langley’s L.J. Tidball debuts and wins in Mexican Nations Cup

As one of four Canadian riders, a local show park owner helped secure the country’s victory.

Demolition suggestion outside role of inspector: Fraser Health

Letters on Fort Langley buildings say they are rat and vermin infested.

Police release criminal profile of suspect in Burnaby teen’s murder

Marrisa Shen was found dead in a Burnaby park last summer

TRAFFIC ALERT: Mounties shut down Port Mann Bridge

A police incident has the bridge closed in both directions, but RCMP expect it to re-open soon.

Aldergrove youth soccer ‘springs’ into action

Aldergrove Youth Soccer kids sprang into action Monday evening on first spring-like day of the year

‘Rusting in Peace’

Langley Quilters turn art into quilt for 2018 show

Doctor sees healing power in psychedelic plant as Peru investigates death of B.C. man

Peru’s attorney general has ordered the arrest of two suspects in the killing of 41-year-old Sebastian Woodroffe

Toronto police officer ‘gave himself the space and time’ in van attack

Footage shows officer standing up, turning off his siren and talking clearly to the suspect

$1.18 to $1.58 a litre: Are you paying the most for gas in B.C.?

Gas prices across B.C. vary, with lowest in Vernon and highest in – you guessed it – Metro Vancouver

EDITORIAL: Speaking out for sexual identities

Both sides of SOGI debate for B.C. schools show signs of bravery, but not all are heroic

B.C. hockey team to retire Humboldt Bronco victim’s number

BCHL’s Surrey Eagles to retire Jaxon Joseph’s No. 10 in light of bus tragedy

Most Read