A series of legislative amendments to the Forest and Range Practices Act (FRPA) were introduced in spring 2019 that aim to restore government authority, including changes to enhance review and approval of Forest Stewardship Plans and Woodlot License Plans. The Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development is preparing for an engagement process that invites feedback into management of forests and range and aims to improve the FRPA.
Representatives of Indigenous communities, labour and industry are undertaking a comprehensive review of British Columbia’s Health, Safety and Reclamation Code to ensure B.C. has strong protections for health, safety and the environment at mine sites. In June 2019 the Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources announced a Standing Code Review Committee to ensure that mining continues to be one of the safest heavy industries in British Columbia and that provincial regulations remain current and respond to the rapid pace of change in the industry. As part of its mandate the Code Review Committee will consider the Professional Reliance Review Report’s recommendations related to the Code.
The Interior Health Authority has implemented an electronic filing system for tracking and managing onsite sewage systems. The remaining four health authorities are being encouraged to use the same filing system platform. The electronic filing system aligns with the intended outcomes of the Sewerage System Regulation pursuant to the Public Health Act and supports many parties (local governments, health authorities, maintenance professionals, and home owners) who wish to actively collaborate in ensuring maintenance is conducted and documented for onsite sewage systems.
The Ministry of Health is exploring a range of ideas (beyond local government bylaws) on how a program for reminding homeowners about their obligations for onsite sewage maintenance could be established, which may lead to a pilot project being implemented on Vancouver Island.
Government has committed to fully implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and is building partnerships with Indigenous nations on natural resource management.
The Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy (ENV) has brought in a new Agricultural Environmental Management Code of Practice under the Environmental Management Act that embodies the spirit and intent of many of the recommendations. Changes in the new code include providing a definition of a qualified professional (QP) and clarifying the objectives of QP tasks; requiring public notification of nutrient management plans; and ensuring the Director has the authority to require changes to inadequate plans.
In addition, ENV has been working with the Contaminated Sites Approved Professionals Society to improve transparency in the reporting of professionals’ performance assessments. The ministry has put in place a policy requiring disclosures of any conflicts of interest and declarations of competency for qualified professionals working in high-risk situations under ministry legislation. Additional compliance and assessment staff have also been hired to support the checking and monitoring functions of the ministry. ENV has also hired a project manager to lead a cross-agency effort to make natural resource information more transparent and consistently available to the citizens of B.C. The provision of information about government programs allows the public to have confidence that government is meetings its obligations in managing provincial resources.