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Revitalizing B.C.’s environmental assessment process

by ahnationtalk on March 7, 2018284 Views

March 7, 2018

VICTORIA – The provincial government is reviewing British Columbia’s environmental assessment process to ensure the legal rights of First Nations are respected and the public’s expectation of a strong, transparent process is met, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy George Heyman announced today.

The newly formed Environmental Assessment Advisory Committee will review and make recommendations on the environmental assessment process. Revitalization of the environmental assessment process will focus on three key outcomes:

  • Enhancing public confidence, transparency and meaningful participation;
  • Advancing reconciliation with First Nations; and
  • Protecting the environment while supporting sustainable economic development.

“We are working to ensure First Nations, local governments and the general public can meaningfully participate in all stages of a revitalized environmental assessment process,” said Heyman. “Our government wants to ensure we have a process that’s transparent, science-based, timely and provides early indications of the likelihood of success. This work will also contribute to our government’s commitment to fully implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. We’ll be working with Indigenous groups at every step of the revitalization process.”

The Environmental Assessment Office (EAO) is working directly with the First Nations Energy and Mining Council (FNEMC), on behalf of the First Nations Leadership Council, to ensure a revitalized environmental assessment process advances reconciliation. Initial engagement will run through April.

Complementing the work of the advisory committee, the FNEMC is leading a series of regional workshops with First Nations. The EAO will also be leading government to government meetings with First Nations and inviting key stakeholders, including industry, environmental non-governmental organizations, local governments, labour and others, to gather specific feedback about their views, experiences and proposed measures to revitalize the environmental assessment process.

Following the initial engagement phase, a discussion paper will be developed to capture feedback, including recommended changes to the process. The discussion paper will be available for public comment in the spring, with changes to the environmental assessment process expected in late fall 2018. Environmental assessments already underway will continue under the current process.

Revitalizing the environmental assessment process is one of Heyman’s ministerial mandate commitments.

A backgrounder follows.

Learn More:

An infographic detailing the revitalization process, including engagement dates, can be viewed here:

For more information on environmental assessment revitalization, please visit the Environmental Assessment Office’s revitalization portal:


Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy
Media Relations
250 953-3834


March 7, 2018

Environmental Assessment Advisory Committee members

Committee co-chairs:

Bruce Fraser is an ecologist by training and has worked extensively in B.C. as an educator, government official and consultant. He is past president of both Selkirk College in Castlegar and Malaspina College in Nanaimo. He spent six years as chair of the Province’s independent Forest Practices Board, and was chair of the Province’s Task Force on Species at Risk. He held the position of area director for Shawnigan Lake in the Cowichan Valley Regional District. He served as a member of the Cowichan Watershed Board and was president of the Shawnigan Basin Society.

Lydia Hwitsum graduated from University of Victoria’s law school in 1997, and has held a number of prominent leadership positions, including Chief of Cowichan Tribes, Task Group member of the First Nations Summit, B.C. region-elected representative on the Assembly of First Nations National Women’s Council, and former chair of the First Nations Health Council. She has served on the FNHA Board of Directors since 2012 as chair.

Committee members:

Sunny LeBourdais is Pelltíq’t te Secwepemc Nation member and the Director of Governance at Secwepemc Governance Initiative and Project Coordinator for the Stk’emlúpsemc te Secwepemc Nation (SSN). Sunny holds an M.Sc from Simon Fraser University and has managed and co-ordinated businesses and projects for the Okanagan, Ktunaxa and Secwepemc Nations. She was the project co-ordinator on the SSN’s Indigenous Impact Assessment Process for the proposed KGHM Ajax Mine near Kamloops, which was successfully completed in 2017.

Colleen Giroux-Schmidt brings over 15 years of experience in B.C. and Canadian resource development, with extensive knowledge in renewable energy. As vice-president, corporate relations, western region for Innergex Renewable Energy Inc., her focus is working with all levels of government, Indigenous communities and stakeholders to increase renewable energy opportunities to help the jurisdictions Innergex works in meet their climate change goals. She is a member of the board of directors for Clean Energy BC (CEBC).

Aaron Bruce is a lawyer at Ratcliffe and Company and a member of the Squamish Nation. He advises on land and resource issues, Aboriginal rights and title, matters under the Indian Act, First Nation governance issues, economic development opportunities, and acts as general counsel for First Nations governments. He specializes in the negotiation of impact-benefit agreements, accommodation agreements with the Crown, and other interim agreements concerning land and natural resources.

Marla Orenstein is the president and founder of Habitat Health Impact Consulting, and president of the International Association for Impact Assessment. She holds an M.Sc. in epidemiology from the University of Edinburgh, is a founding member of the Society for Practitioners of Health Impact Assessment, and an international leader in the field of Health Impact Assessment. She co-authored the textbook, Health Impact Assessment in the United States, 2014.

Karen Campbell has more than 20 years’ experience in environment and natural resource law, focusing on climate, energy, mining and environmental assessment law. She obtained her JD from Dalhousie University, and LLM international environmental law from the University of London. She is a staff lawyer at Ecojustice, which uses the power of the law to defend nature and fight climate change.

Kevin Hanna is the director, Centre for Environmental Assessment Research and associate professor, geography at the University of British Columbia. His work focuses on the effectiveness of environmental assessments as an environmental management tool, the role of EA in resource management, planning and decision-making by Indigenous communities, and the implementation of cumulative effects assessment. He develops applied knowledge that can help management, policy development and operational activities.

Mark Freberg is the director, permitting and closure for Teck Resources. He has over 35 years of experience in the permitting, operation and closure of mines. His current role is to co-ordinate and support permitting and closure planning activities across Teck and he works primarily in British Columbia, Chile and Peru. He is the chair of the Environment Committee of the Mining Association of Canada and has been very involved in the federal government’s review of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act.

Edie Thome is the president and CEO at the Association for Mineral Exploration (AME). Prior to AME, she was the director of environment, permitting and compliance, Aboriginal Relations and Public Affairs at BC Hydro, responsible for permitting and compliance, Aboriginal relations and public affairs for the Site C Clean Energy Project. Her earlier experience includes regulatory affairs, risk management, environment, operations and customer service for BC Hydro, among other regulated industries.

Arjun Singh is serving his third term on Kamloops City Council. He is a trained facilitator and is currently an associate of the SFU Centre for Dialogue. He has an MA in professional communication from Royal Roads University and a certificate in dialogue, deliberation, and public engagement from Fielding Graduate University. He is a past president of the Rotary Club of Kamloops and past chair of the Kamloops Technology Industry Association.

Josh Towsley is the assistant business manager for the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 115. IUOE Local 115 has played a critical role in resource and transportation development in B.C. since its formation in 1931. During his career in the labour movement, he has represented the interests of B.C. workers in the mining, hydroelectric, roadbuilding and other industrial sectors.


Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy
Media Relations
250 953-3834

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