British Columbia (B.C.) Environment Minister Mary Polak has rescinded a new environmental assessment exemption and apologized for the ministry’s failure to engage in consultations with local First Nations about the change.
The exemption for prospective sweet natural gas processing plants and all-season ski resorts was made to eliminate duplication created by a similar environmental assessment process within the B.C. Ministry of Forests and Lands, said Polak, as she apologized to First Nations angered by the oversight.
“I would like to acknowledge First Nations concerns about amendments to the Reviewable Projects Regulation (B.C. Reg. 370/2002) under the Environmental Assessment Act,” Polak said in an April 16, 2014 statement. “Our government apologizes for failing to discuss the amendment with First Nations prior to its approval,” she added.
Polak said the government will not proceed with the regulatory change until First Nations have been consulted. The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers has also been made aware of the decision, she noted.
“Our government sees a significant value in continuing to develop a government-to-government relationship with all First Nations,” said Polak. “We remain actively engaged with First Nations in northeastern British Columbia, including shared decision making that respects the environment, First Nation values, and Treaty 8 and its associated rights,” she added.