Transition Provisions

In November 2018, a new Environmental Assessment Act was passed, expected to come into force in late 2019.

These FAQs are designed to assist proponents in understanding what the new Act means for their projects if they are:

  • Already or soon-to-be engaged in the EA process
  • Holders of environmental assessment certificates
  • Holders of exemption orders

Questions 

  1. When will the new environmental assessment process under the new Environmental Assessment Act actually begin being used?
  2. How can I better understand what the new Environmental Assessment Act means for my project?
  3. What will happen if my project does not yet have a Section 11 Order at the time the new Environmental Assessment Act is brought into force?
  4. What will happen if I have a Section 11 Order at the time the new Environmental Assessment Act is brought into force?
  5. What if the Environmental Assessment Office is reviewing my project application at the time the new Environmental Assessment Act comes into force?
  6. What will happen if I have an amendment or exemption application in progress when the new Environmental Assessment Act comes into force?
  7. What will happen if I would like to submit an amendment on my project that already has an environmental assessment certificate after the new Environmental Assessment Act comes into force?
  8. I plan to submit an exemption application once the new Environmental Assessment Act comes into force. What should I be doing to prepare now?
  9. What will happen if I want to withdraw my project from the environmental assessment process before the new Environmental Assessment Act comes into force and then pursue it later?
  10. How will the new Act apply to me if I already have an environmental assessment certificate or exemption Order?
  11. I already have an environmental assessment certificate and my project is under construction. When does it need to be substantially started?
  12. My project is substantially started. Can the Environmental Assessment Office cancel my existing environmental assessment certificate under the new act?
  13. What happens under the new Environmental Assessment Act if I sell my project with an environmental assessment certificate to another entity?
  14. What are the benefits of beginning an environmental assessment under the new Environmental Assessment Act?

 


1. When will the new environmental assessment process under the new Environmental Assessment Act actually begin being used?

It is anticipated that the new Act will come into force in late 2019.

Since the new Act passed last fall, we are taking the time we need to ensure a smooth transition to the new process. This includes incorporating the new changes into policies, regulations and operations of the Environmental Assessment Office, and ensuring alignment with government permitting agencies, and other partner organizations.


2. How can I better understand what the new Environmental Assessment Act means for my project?

The Environmental Assessment Office (EAO) is reaching out to proponents and will continue to do so leading up to implementation of the new environmental assessment process. Proponents should contact their EAO Project Lead or the Sector Executive Project Director if they have any additional questions.


3. What will happen if my project does not yet have a Section 11 Order at the time the new Environmental Assessment Act is brought into force?

If your Project does not yet have a Section 11 Order (establishing the formal scope, procedures and methods for the environmental assessment), at the time the new Act is brought into force, your project will be considered under the new Act in the Early Engagement phase. Your first action will be to contact your Project Lead or the Sector Executive Project Director to understand what information will be required. Information could include submission of an initial project description and engagement plan as part of the early engagement phase.


4. What will happen if I have a Section 11 Order at the time the new Environmental Assessment Act is brought into force?

If you have established the formal scope, procedures and methods for the environmental assessment (EA), you will have six months from the date the new Act is brought into force to file notice with the Project Lead at the Environmental Assessment Office (EAO) that you wish to continue under the current Act. If you choose this option, you must complete the EA process within three years.

If you elect not to continue under the current Environmental Assessment Act, or if the EA is not complete within three years, the EA must be completed under the new Act. The EAO will transition your project to be considered under the new Act through an order that:

  • Specifies the step in the new EA process to which the project must proceed; or
  • Varies the EA process to the extent necessary to accommodate the assessment under the new Act

5. What if the Environmental Assessment Office (EAO) is reviewing my project application at the time the new Environmental Assessment Act comes into force?

You will have six months from the date the Act is brought into force to file notice with the EAO that you wish to continue under the current Environmental Assessment Act.

If you are issued an environmental assessment certificate, the project will be subject to the new Act with respect to amendments, compliance and enforcement and post certificate administration provisions.


6. What will happen if I have an amendment or exemption application in progress when the new Environmental Assessment Act comes into force?

Amendments and exemption applications already made under the current Environmental Assessment Act will proceed under the Environmental Assessment Act, 2002.


7. What will happen if I would like to submit an amendment on my project that already has an environmental assessment certificate (EAC) after the new Environmental Assessment Act comes into force?

Any project with an existing EAC will be subject to the new Act with respect to amendments.


8. I plan to submit an exemption application once the new Environmental Assessment Act (the new Act) comes into force. What should I be doing to prepare now?

Information requirements for exemptions under the new Act will be very similar to the current requirements, so follow the current guidance in your preparations. Proponents applying for exemptions under the new Act will have to undertake the Early Engagement phase of the assessment, and the exemption decision will be made by the Minister rather than the Chief Executive Assessment Officer. More information on early engagement will be made available in the fall on the Environmental Assessment Office’s website. If you have additional questions, contact the Project Lead or Sector Executive Project Director.


9. What will happen if I want to withdraw my project from the environmental assessment (EA) process before the new Environmental Assessment Act comes into force and then pursue it later?

You will be required to start the EA process over, subject to the new Environmental Assessment Act. Your first action will be to submit an Initial Project Description and engagement plan as part of the Early Engagement phase. The Environmental Assessment Office will work with you to determine what work already completed under the withdrawn EA is still relevant and could be carried over to the new EA under the new Act.


10. How will the new Act apply to me if I already have an environmental assessment certificate (EAC) or exemption Order?

Any project with an existing EAC or exemption Order will be subject to the new Environmental Assessment Act with respect to amendments, compliance and enforcement and post certificate administration provisions. All other original requirements of the certificate remain in force.


11. I already have an environmental assessment certificate (EAC) and my project is under construction. When does it need to be substantially started?

The certificate will expire if the project is not substantially started by the date indicated on your project’s EAC.


12. My project is substantially started. Can the Environmental Assessment Office (EAO) cancel my existing environmental assessment certificate (EAC) under the new Act?

The EAC may be cancelled if the project is not operational on the 20th anniversary of the issuance of the EAC, or on the 5th anniversary of the new Act coming into force, whichever is later. The EAO may also amend or attach new conditions to your certificate at this time.


13. What happens under the new Environmental Assessment Act if I sell my project with an environmental assessment certificate (EAC) to another entity?

If you intend to sell your project with an EAC, the certificate transfer provision in the new Act will replace any individual conditions on existing certificates related to transfer procedures. This will provide for operational efficiency of all certificates being subject to the same transfer provision. You would need to apply to the Chief Executive Assessment Officer to transfer your EAC to a new EAC holder.


14. What are the benefits of beginning an environmental assessment (EA) under the new Environmental Assessment Act?

The new Act provides greater certainty and predictability of process to proponents. Some examples are:

  • Makes use of new mechanisms such as dispute resolution facilitation, and process steps such as early engagement and readiness decision. These process steps are intended to identify key project issues early, to inform approaches to developing the project and charting paths for resolution of issues during an (EA).
  • Earlier indication of the likelihood of success, allowing proponents to make informed decisions about proceeding with the EA process.
  • Regulatory costs are known at the outset, including capacity funding for Indigenous nations.
  • The new Process Order sets out project specific timelines, information requirements and issues resolution process.
  • Option of a more collaborative, staged approach to the development of an Application improves quality of the Application and reduces the need for information requests and subsequent delay.
  • Increased certainty during the Effects Assessment phase provided through earlier process phases of consensus building and issues resolution.
  • Increased initial environmental assessment certificate (EAC) duration of a maximum of ten years, with the potential to extend the EAC an additional five years.
  • More efficient transition to subsequent permitting processes (if an EAC is issued), with clear handoff of issues to be further addressed in permitting.
  • Strong signal to Indigenous nations and stakeholders that a collaborative approach is supported and that there is a desire to meet the most up to date review requirements.
  • Opportunity to build social license through meaningful public engagement in the new EA process.
  • Avoid potential to have to change EA processes in future if the project is delayed, or be well positioned to understand new EA process for future projects.
  • Benefit from an updated cooperation agreement with the federal government that supports one project, one assessment.

For more information, contact your Project Lead or Sector Executive Project Director.

For contact information please visit https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/environment/natural-resource-stewardship/environmental-assessments/contact-us