Striking a Balance: The Challenges of Using a Professional Reliance Model in Environmental Protection – British Columbia's Riparian Areas Regulation

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Authority Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations
Category Environment and Natural Resources, Local Government
Classification Public Report No. 50
Type Report
Details

Public Report No. 50, Striking a Balance: The Challenges of Using a Professional Reliance Model in Environmental Protection – British Columbia’s Riparian Areas Regulation was completed in March 2014. It contains 21 findings and 25 recommendations directed to the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations. The ministry has accepted and committed to implementing 24 of the 25 recommendations made to it.

We will be monitoring the progress of the ministry in implementing the recommendations contained in Striking a Balance. We will conduct an initial assessment of the progress of implementation six months after the report’s release, and the results will be posted here once that is complete.


On April 16, 2014, Provincial Ombudsperson Kim Carter released Striking a Balance: The Challenges of Using a Professional Reliance Model in Environmental Protection – British Columbia’s Riparian Areas Regulation. This systemic investigation into an environmental protection program concluded there has been a lack of oversight, training, information and reporting of the program by the provincial government. Twenty five recommendations were made to the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations to ensure the Riparian Areas Regulation (RAR) functions in an administratively fair manner as it relates to the challenges and complexities associated with development. Twenty four of the 25 recommendations have been accepted.

The RAR is part of the legislative and regulatory framework which protects natural environments in B.C. Enacted in 2005, the RAR is intended to protect the areas surrounding streams, lakes and inland waters in the most populated areas of B.C. from development that would damage the habitat of fish in those waters. It applies to 15 regional districts in B.C. – these regional districts cover about 17.5% of B.C.’s land mass where approximately 74% of the province’s population lives. The Regulation applies to the southeast coast of Vancouver Island, the Lower Mainland (except the City of Vancouver), Fraser Valley, Sunshine Coast, Thompson-Okanagan and Columbia-Shuswap regions. The RAR relies on qualified professionals to conduct assessments and make decisions about how riparian areas should be protected in the development process. The ministry has an important oversight role in monitoring the ongoing implementation of the RAR by local governments, qualified professionals and developers.

Recommendations were made in the areas of making improvements to the professional reliance framework, monitoring and compliance, enhancements to public information and accessibility, local government compliance as well as improvements to the process of receiving concerns and complaints.

Date Wednesday, April 16, 2014