Natural Resource Roads Act Project (NRRA)

In British Columbia, there are an estimated 600,000 kilometres of natural resource roads that are currently administered through more than one dozen Acts and regulations.

Resource roads are shared by a number of different users. Various legislation was created for each specific resource sector, complicating matters of governance. The result is:

  • Substantially different road permitting processes
  • Varied levels of compliance and enforcement
  • Inconsistent standards for road use, maintenance, construction and deactivation

An important goal of the proposed Natural Resource Roads Act (NRRA) is to establish new legislation that will harmonize administration of British Columbia’s resource roads, and create a common safety regime and road use rules.

The NRRA project is working with affected stakeholders to overcome the policy challenges and support the drafting of the bill and regulations.

Progress

Significant documents from Phase 1 of the project:

Significant documents from Phase 2 of the project:

The NRRA will apply to all resource roads on Crown land. Public highways, municipal roads, mineral tenure roads, roads within provincial parks or federal land, and private roads are not part of the project. The NRRA will not affect any land use planning processes that determine where resource roads may be built.

Benefits

The main advantage and benefits of the NRRA are:

  • Fair & cost-effective road management framework
  • Consistent expectations for resource road use
  • Harmonized standards for construction, maintenance, modification & deactivation
  • Regulated compliance & enforcement regime for all industries
  • Improved safety for road workers & members of the public
  • Reduced environmental impact

Industrial users can expect to acquire fewer authorizations and will experience greater consistency between authorizations. Rights and obligations of resource road users and maintainers will be balanced and there will be an efficient and effective dispute resolution mechanism. Road use rules will be uniform and clear.

Commercial users and the general public will have guaranteed rights to use resource roads, subject to protection of the road, environment and user safety. Road use rules will be similar to those on public roads, increasing certainty about best practices for the safe and efficient movement of vehicles on resource roads.

Maintenance & Deactivation

The province will assign maintainer responsibilities to the party that is fairly considered to be the primary user. Other industrial and some commercial users will be required to contribute to maintenance when their level of use crosses a threshold that will be defined in the NRRA. Pending a consultation process, government may also be allowed to contribute to maintenance.

Road deactivation becomes a government decision of rather than an industry decision. Road deactivation can be avoided by accepting maintenance obligations customized to each situation.

Safety

Current legislation, for the most part, does not acknowledge the public’s growing dependence on resource roads. The Province is developing the NRRA to establish a uniform suite of road use rules, which will clarify any uncertainty surrounding road use and road safety.

Employers whose workers are operating vehicles on resource roads are responsible for ensuring those workers are aware of the rules of the road and are trained to deal with hazards they encounter. Maintainers of resource roads are responsible for mitigating known hazards. The province and WorkSafeBC will work together to support this model through education, communication, monitoring and enforcement.

Public Access

The NRRA will support non-industrial maintainers taking on responsibility for roads no longer required by industry, thereby retaining more roads for longer periods of time.

The public will have a right to use resource roads, except where restrictions are required to provide for the protection of the road or environment. The NRRA will ensure resource road users are accountable for following the rules of the road and for damage they cause to a road, thereby respecting the rights of others to also use the road.

The NRRA will make it easier to manage roads specifically for off-road vehicles. It will clarify rules regarding use of resource roads where off-road vehicles can expect to encounter other vehicle types.