Spill Preparedness and Response Legislation Update

On February 29, the Province made amendments to the Environmental Management Act (EMA) in an effort to strengthen spill preparedness and response requirements in the event of an environmental emergency in BC. This is a step towards the Province’s goal of establishing a world-leading spill preparedness and response regime in BC.

The legislation, which passed first reading, will:

  • Establish new requirements for spill preparedness, response and recovery
  • Create new offences and penalties
  • Enable the certification of a Preparedness and Response Organization
  • Increase transparency, participation and accountability

A report by Nuka Research has also been released which outlines world-leading approaches to spill prevention, preparedness, response and recovery from select jurisdictions. UBCM has previously advocated for clarification on what constitutes a world leading approach from various jurisdictions. 

The Province noted that the new legislation would act as an enabling framework with the majority of the details presented in the regulations, which are scheduled for 2017.

UBCM continues to sit on the Provincial Land Based Spill Advisory Committee, and supports the move towards stronger requirements for spill preparedness, response and recovery. Members have asked for:

  • An industry-funded contingency fund to address spills response in a timely manner (2007-B173; 2008-B32; 2010B87; 2012-B122);
  • Response plans for high-risk areas (2007-B6; 2008-B32; 2011-B149);
  • A collaborative approach to spill response (2007-B173; 2008-B32; 2011-B149);
  • A regional planning authority to oversee spill response (1992-B28; 2007-B173; 2008-B32); and
  • Wildlife system and ecosystem restoration funded by industry (2007-B173; 2008-B32)

Advisory Committee members will also have the opportunity to review the draft legislation and draft regulations as they are being developed.

In terms of next steps, a third intentions paper is being drafted and local governments will have the opportunity to participate in the public consultation when the paper is completed and published on-line. Input will also be received during a two-day overview workshop planned for April 2016 alongside a series of regional meetings with First Nations.

UBCM will continue to provide updates on this issue over the coming months.

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