Input Requested: Monetary Penalties under the Water Sustainability Act.

Cottonwood River, BC

Publishing Date

The Water Sustainability Act (WSA) was brought into force in 2016 to ensure a sustainable supply of fresh, clean water to meet the needs of BC residents.  Under the WSA, current enforcement options include issuing violation tickets for minor offences, or issuing orders, and prosecuting major offences through the courts. That leaves a significant gap for moderate-to-significant violations. Court prosecutions are onerous, resource intensive, and only appropriate for the most significant offences, while violation tickets or issuing orders may be insufficient relevant to the impact of a violation.

In recognition of the need for more effective and efficient means of enforcing the WSA, the Province is developing a new regulatory tool: Administrative Monetary Penalties (AMPs) to protect freshwater resources in BC. AMPs are financial penalties that can be imposed on individuals or organizations who fail to comply with legal requirements, an order given by a Ministry official, or a requirement of an authorization (e.g., permit, license, approval etc.). AMPs are used in other BC laws as a compliance and enforcement tool to address moderate to significant violations, such as under the Forest and Range Practices Act, where penalty amounts are prescribed by regulation with a maximum penalty of up to $500,000.

AMPs were always intended to be part of the WSA, but were delayed because of capacity. With increasing pressures and a commitment to enable AMPs in the Blueberry River First Nations Implementation Agreement (Schedule P), the enabling regulation is currently moving ahead. Regulatory proposals for AMPs under the WSA are expected by early 2024.  Local governments are invited to provide feedback and comments on the proposed regulation by July 14.

For inquires about the proposed regulation, please contact the Ministry of Water, Land and Resource Stewardship.