Enviroment Committee Policy Update

UBCM’s Environment Committee monitors and advocates for changes in environmental policy of interest to local governments. Two of the key issues the committee is engaged with concern land based spill preparedness and urban deer management.

Land Based Spills Preparedness and Response

In November 2012, the Province released a policy intentions paper on Land Based Spill Preparedness and Response. This was the first step towards creating a world leading land based spill preparedness and response regime, which is one of the five conditions necessary for support of heavy oil projects.

UBCM has been actively engaged in this file over the past few years and has provided comments on the Province’s first intentions paper; attended a 3-day symposium in March 2013 to discuss world leading preparedness and response regimes for land based spills, coastal shorelines, human health, and safety; and   participated as a member on the Province’s Advisory Committee.  UBCM has also received delegations from Ministry of Environment staff to discuss their approach; provided comments on the Province’s second intentions paper; and received a delegation at the July 2014 Environment Committee meeting from the Canadian Energy Pipelines Association (CEPA) to discuss their joint paper with the Railway Association of Canada.

With respect to this issue, the membership has provided clear direction and has asked for:

  • An industry-funded contingency fund to address spills response in a timely manner;
  • Response plans for high-risk areas;
  • A collaborative approach to spill response;
  • A regional planning authority to oversee spill response; and
  • Wildlife system and ecosystem restoration funded by industry

UBCM continues to advocate for local government interests and recently met with Ministry staff at the February 2015 Environment Committee meeting.  It was noted at this meeting that Ministry staff have collated the consultation feedback and provided options and recommendations for the government’s consideration. They are currently waiting for direction before proceeding with next steps, including the drafting of regulations.

Recommendations from Ministry staff include the creation of an oversight organization for land-based spills in BC.  The Province would set the rules for the oversight organization, require membership in the organization, and certify members that meet the standards. Staff have also advised that local governments and First Nations should have input and be involved with setting rules, planning and preparedness, and other matters as local governments will likely be the first responders in the case of a spill. On the issue of a contingency fund, Ministry staff have indicated their support and recommended that a contingency fund be BC based, and industry funded. For more information on this initiative, please visit the Ministry’s website.

Urban Deer

At the 2013 UBCM Convention, Premier Clark and Minister Thomson, Forest, Lands and Natural Resources Operations (FLNRO) met with several mayors on the issue of urban deer management.  Following this meeting, Premier Clark committed to provincial engagement with the UBCM in the creation of an Urban Deer Management Task Force.

Following an exchange of correspondence with the Province, Executive consideration, and staff discussions, it was agreed that the best way forward would be to offer a forum with affected mayors and Ministry staff from around the province to discuss deer management. At the 2014 Convention, it was announced that UBCM and the Ministry would collaborate in the delivery of a two-day workshop to engage the provincial government, UBCM and local government. The workshop would provide the participants with up to date legal, policy, administrative, communications and best practices information; and offer a structured opportunity for local governments to make recommendations on improvements and priorities for the management of urban deer in BC.

The Urban Deer Forum was held on January 12th and 13th in Richmond, BC. Thirty- three (33) participants attended the forum including staff from the provincial government, UBCM, local governments and the non-profit community. Twelve (12) local governments were represented by their staff and elected officials. This constitutes the majority of communities that have been actively engaging with FLNRO staff on urban deer issue.

On the first day of the Forum, presentations were received from experts, provincial government staff and non-profit organizations. The second day of the Forum focused on creating ideas and drafting recommendations. General categories for recommendations were established: roles and responsibilities; process and decision making; resources; communication and education; and tools.

UBCM staff will be sending out the draft recommendations via email to the affected communities for member feedback, prior to submitting them to the Province for consideration. If other members wish to receive and comment on the draft recommendations, please contact UBCM (604-270-8226, ext. 100). Provincial government staff have committed to responding to the report and recommendations within three (3) months of receipt.

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