Public consultation process goes to consultation

Hundreds of people attended information sessions on the environmental assessment process and how it applies to the proposed Ajax Mine in Kamloops last fall.

HAVE YOUR SAY ON THE ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT PROCESS

THOMPSON-OKANAGAN - A lot of people have recently expressed concerns over how the environmental assessment process works and now the provincial government is asking for input on how to improve the public consultation portion of the process.

The B.C. Government's Environmental Assessment Office is asking the public to provide input on how to improve public consultation during the environmental assessment process.

The office is looking for online discussion to take place on what’s working, potential improvements and communication.

It is noted those affected by proposed projects should have an opportunity to provide input and therefore public consultation is an important, and necessary, aspect of assessments in the province.

The consultation website says the submitted comments will be ‘reviewed, summarized and integrated where possible’ into existing and new processes.

The online discussion will be open until May 26 at 9 a.m. The website also provides background materials explaining what the office does, an overview of how the assessment process works and a vision for public consultation. You can also view feedback already submitted.

Among the comments already received on the process:

“It would be good to have a mailing list set up for regions so that people could receive notice of new applications and public comment periods.”

“I also heard a lot of mistrust toward the Environmental Assessment process, which means a lack of trust in the EAO and the Government. That of course cannot be taken away with a new website, that can only be rebuild by showing what the government does with the public input it received.”

“The problem is less about the EA office itself, and more about the context in which it exists. Although there is likely room for improvement around public consultation, that won’t address the actual issue with the EA process. The current process is costly for companies, and taxpayers. The limited timelines only ensure that the public often cannot be confident or satisfied with the outcomes.”

“Many early environmental assessments (i.e., from the 1990s) are not available in the public registry. The projects exist on e-PIC, and there is often an online record of the documents that were prepared, but the electronic versions are not posted. This should be rectified for proper transparency.”

To contact a reporter for this story, email Jennifer Stahn at jstahn@infonews.ca or call 250-819-3723. To contact an editor, email mjones@infonews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

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