On April 27 the Province of British Columbia and 18 coastal First Nations announced the completion of marine plans for four regions of BC’s northern coast that will be of interest to various industry players, including the renewable energy sector.

The plans were collaboratively developed by the Province and the First Nations through an initiative known as the Marine Planning Partnership for the North Pacific Coast (MaPP), based on extensive consultation with various stakeholders, including area residents and members of the marine science and technical communities.

The plans include comprehensive recommendations that attempt to balance the preservation and enhancement of the marine ecosystem within each region with the need to encourage sustainable economic development for the benefit of the affected First Nations and other residents. To facilitate planning and implementation, each region has been divided into zones identified for special uses, protection and general use.

The renewable energy sector is highlighted in all four plans. Each plan identifies objectives and strategies to support the development of marine-based renewable energy, including tidal, current, wave, wind and thermal energy power. In three of the four regions, renewable energy special management sub-zones have been established.

The plans also contain recommendations related to the issuance of tenures by the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations (FLNRO) for use of Crown lands and resources, including:

  • the incorporation of relationship building between proponents and First Nations as a component of due diligence in tenure approval or renewal;
  • the development of measures designed to avoid, reduce or mitigate adverse impacts on First Nation traditional uses and the incorporation of such requirements in tenure instruments; and
  • the development of a handbook for proponents about best practices and legal obligations regarding First Nations consultation, including protocol agreement templates.

Although such recommendations are in reference to FLNRO operations within the respective regions, it is likely that a number of these measures will be reflected in general FLNRO policies and practices going forward.

The federal government was not a participant in MaPP, so the plans do not address matters under federal jurisdiction, including port development and the transportation of oil and liquefied natural gas.

Although the plans are not legally binding per se, implementation agreements are currently being negotiated to guide implementation in the coming years.

Copies of the four plans are available online at the following link (see bottom of page):https://www.for.gov.bc.ca/tasb/SLRP/.