More say will be given to Indigenous communities across Northern BC when discussing major resource projects going forward.
The province announced new legislation this week under the Environmental Assessment Act where future projects would require a review from Indigenous communities.
According to Nechako Lakes MLA John Rustad, the BC Liberals were already doing something similar while in power.
“This has codified it and it has gone a little bit further, certainly more rigorous in terms of the amount of work that is going to be required by proponents as they go through the environmental assessment.”
“And by including them (First Nations) you get them at the table working as to how to get projects through instead of as opposed to fighting against projects.”
However, the provincial government will still have final say on whether a project goes through even if Indigenous communities disagree with it, meaning they have no power to veto a project.
Rustad says there is another way Indigenous groups can skirt around the issue.
“There is still the route that if for some reason and the Indigenous community feels the project is not appropriate, they can consider going to court or pick some other way to express their concern.”
The more rigorous process could have some negatives as well, which concerns the Nechako Lakes MLA.
“Knowing that there are very strict conditions put in place by climate action goals could very easily mean for example that another LNG project would not be able to go forward because of the concern around greenhouse gas emissions.”
Another concern of Rustad’s is the province is now downloading all of the costs regarding the environmental assessment including all the technical groups.
The new law will take effect in about a year.