A new agreement between British Columbia and Canada may streamline the environmental assessment (EA) for projects that require both provincial and federal review. The British Columbia Environmental Assessment Office (EAO) entered into a Memorandum of Understanding on the substitution of environmental assessments (MOU) with the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (Agency) on March 15, 2013. The MOU sets out the process for British Columbia to substitute its EA process for projects where both provincial and federal EAs are required. The respective federal and provincial ministers will issue separate decisions.

Key features of the MOU include:

  • The MOU details the administrative process between the EAO and the Agency to implement the EA substitution provisions introduced in the Canada Environmental Assessment Act, 2012 (it does not establish the equivalency of the British Columbia process);
  • British Columbia must submit a request to the Agency for the substitution of a project  (or class of projects) and the federal Minister must be satisfied that the provincial EA process is an appropriate substitute for the federal process for those projects;
  • The federal Minister will delegate the procedural aspects of Aboriginal consultation for substituted EAs to the EAO (any consultation by British Columbia with Métis would be conducted on behalf of Canada); and
  • Substituted EAs must meet timelines specified in the Canada Environmental Assessment Act, 2012 and the British Columbia Environmental Assessment Act.

A copy of the MOU can be found here:http://www.eao.gov.bc.ca/pdf/EAO_CEAA_Substitution_MOU.pdf