BC’s guidance for provincial land use plans – here is what you need to know

“The purpose of land use planning is to guide land and resource management decision makers to regulate the use of land in consideration of the needs of communities, the economy, and the environment.”

Hemmera’s Social Sciences Practice Lead, Nina Barton, was asked to attend an expert elicitation workshop on changes to BC’s guidance for Socio-economic and Environmental Assessments (SEEA) for provincial land use plans. SEEA are conducted to assess how implementing a land use plan will affect people, communities, the economy, and ecosystems in the plan area. The workshop was hosted in Victoria by the BC Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development (FLNRORD).

The updated SEAA guidance will address a range of critically important considerations including climate change, Indigenous interests and cumulative effects. Hemmera has the expertise to support clients with SEEA, whether for land use plans alone or for projects that require environmental impact assessment.

Land Use Planning in BC: A Brief History

The purpose of land use planning is to guide land and resource management decision makers to regulate the use of land in consideration of the needs of communities, the economy, and the environment. Most of BC’s land area (about 94%) is Crown or public land; however, before the 1990s, most resource management decisions in BC were on a valley-by-valley basis and were made to resolve specific land use conflicts. The Province initiated a comprehensive, large-scale planning process in the 1990s that used a consensus-driven model. The main goals of land use planning at the time were to increase protected areas across BC while maintaining the economic stability of resource industries. By the early 2000s, higher-level, regional Land and Resource Management Plans (LRMP) covered more than 90% of the provincial land base. Many sub-regional, component-based planning processes were also conducted for smaller areas or specific issues, such as management plans for community watersheds or establishment of wildlife habitat areas.

Modernized Land Use Planning

In 2017, FLNRORD and the Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation (MIRR) launched a revitalized approach to land use planning called Modernized Land Use Planning. They recognized that previous land use planning processes had generally lacked First Nation involvement, consistent monitoring programs, and mechanisms for legal enforcement. Other important issues identified included water sustainability, socio-economic stability for rural communities, and climate change implications for land use.

Since 2017, the Province has engaged with Indigenous groups to identify critical areas for updated planning, and several pilot projects to update LRMPs are now in progress. The new approach to land use planning is designed as a government-to-government approach between Indigenous groups, FLNRORD, and MIRR. There is also close communication between the two ministries and the BC Environmental Assessment Office – updated SEEA guidance will be aligned, where appropriate, with the approach to environmental assessments set out in the new BC Environmental Assessment Act (2018).

Revitalizing SEEA

The existing (2007) guidance for SEEA uses Multiple Accounts Analysis (MAA) to identify and characterize the effects of proposed land uses on selected economic, social, and environmental indicators that have been identified as relevant to the plan area. The MAA approach compares the outcomes of indicators under a base case scenario and as a result of plan implementation. Key indicators listed in the existing SEEA guidance focus mainly on economic activities and ecological risks.

The updated SEEA guidance will need to also fully consider new challenges, including:

  • The ever-increasing complexity of factors affecting the land and water, e.g., climate change effects and species-at-risk management
  • Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples: BC’s recent implementation of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act and adoption of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action
  • The role of Indigenous knowledge in land use plans
  • Increasing demand on resources, coupled with the need to balance various and sometimes conflicting social, economic, cultural and environmental objectives
  • How to facilitate the meaningful participation of communities and stakeholders
  • Differential effects for vulnerable sub-populations
  • Cumulative effects.


Implications of the Updated SEEA Guidance for Client Projects

It is no coincidence that the modern challenges of land use planning are also key areas of focus in the new BC and federal guidance for environmental impact assessment of major projects. The revitalized approach to the socio-economic assessment of land use planning is being designed to be responsive to people and communities, by providing more opportunities for meaningful engagement and increasing the transparency of the assessment and planning processes. Greater transparency and increased opportunities for meaningful engagement can lead to greater public trust in land use decisions and greater certainty for clients who may be planning projects.

At Hemmera, our team of socio-economic practitioners and land use specialists are participating directly with the Province to develop new guidance for socio-economic assessment under changing regulatory frameworks. We have the experience and expertise to lead SEEA of land use plans and to help our clients be aware of the implications of updates to land use plans as they consider new projects, including those that may require not only land use planning but also environmental impact assessment.

About the author
Nina Barton is a Practice Leader in Social Sciences with over 15 years of diverse experience working in natural resource management in western Canada.

Completing Environmental Remediation Work with the New Realities of COVID-19

By Peter Reid, Vice President, Site Assessment and Remediation at Hemmera

Hemmera looks at the new realities of conducting environmental remediation work with COVID-19 and considerations that property developers need to make when refinancing or redeveloping a property from the perspective of Environmental Site Assessments.

During the recent response to COVID-19, Hemmera had several on-going remediations that needed to continue without risking harm to the environment.

With market conditions changing rapidly, it is anticipated that many Canadian property owners and developers may consider property refinancing.  Depending on the nature of the site and the areas around it, this may require an Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) be conducted. Some things to consider are:

  • Redevelopment and refinancing have different requirements for environmental site assessments. Depending on your situation, a redevelopment may trigger environmental requirements that a refinancing may not.
  • Upcoming changes to schedule 2 uses in British Columbia will expand the number of sites that require assessments, including sites that have re-used asphalt as fill.
  • ESAs can be safely conducted during COVID-19, however the safety requirements for these assessments varies by province depending on each province’s health department rules.

The Hemmera team has been able to continue to conduct ESAs while managing the safety considerations required by the COVID-19 pandemic. In a webinar held on 30 April 2020, the team talked through some examples of the considerations above and discussed how these site investigations can be conducted while ensuring the safety of workers and the local community. The webinar was moderated by James Mair, with Rob Hamm, Peter Reid, and Karey Dow speaking.

Watch the recording of the webinar below.

 

Hemmera recognized as one of Canada’s Top Employers for Young People

Burnaby, BC – January 17, 2020 – Hemmera is extremely proud to announce that we have been recognized by Mediacorp Canada Inc. as one of Canada’s Top Employers for Young People in 2020. This award recognizes employers that offer the nation’s best workplaces and programs for young people starting their careers.

At Hemmera, we strive to create a work environment where employees feel engaged and valued as individuals. Hemmera’s unique culture is captured by The Hemmera Way — a collective way of thinking that defines our behaviours, actions, attitudes, and approach to projects and working relationships. The Hemmera Way differentiates us from our competitors, inspiring us to practise Hemmera’s collective values of being people based, business focused, and values driven while delivering performance excellence to our clients and projects.

 “We are thrilled to be recognized as one of Canada’s Top Employers for Young People,” says Paul Hemsley, Hemmera’s President and founder. “It is an honour to share this award with other great organizations that are supporting and developing our next generation of leaders. We are proud to be able to provide our staff with a work environment that offers them the development opportunities to be successful in their careers.”

Hemmera’s onboarding experience starts on day one, with each new employee receiving a detailed orientation and onboarding schedule that includes a road map to help them build their career – the Hemmera Way. We also provide ongoing development through in-house training programs that reflect and strengthen Hemmera’s unique culture, as well as through access to external courses that keep our practitioners operating at the top of their field. Young people are tremendously valuable in our workplace – their curiosity and fresh ideas, desire to develop their skills, and drive to find a better way are just a few qualities we are proud to support.

About Hemmera

Hemmera, a wholly owned subsidiary of Ausenco, is a leading Canadian environmental consultancy valued for our expertise and boutique approach. Our highly respected professionals have created opportunities for sustainable growth and balanced development for our clients. With a reputation for integrity and technical excellence, Hemmera offers progressive environmental services in Site Assessment and Remediation, Environmental Planning and Ecology, Human Environment, and Geomatics.

Mediacorp Canada Inc.

Mediacorp Canada Inc. manages the well-known Canada’s Top 100 Employers project and the Eluta.ca job search engine. BC’s Top Employers is an annual competition organized by the editors of Canada’s Top 100 Employers. Entering its 13th year, this special regional category recognizes the British Columbia employers that lead their industries in offering exceptional places to work.

 

Hemmera Selected as a Top Employer in British Columbia for the Fifth Consecutive Year

Hemmera is proud to announce that we have been recognized as one of BC’s Top Employers for the fifth consecutive year. This award honours organizations that go above and beyond to create exceptional workplaces and is a distinction that focuses on what makes us at Hemmera most proud: our people and how we support them to excel.

Hemmera strives to create a work environment where employees feel engaged and valued as individuals. Hemmera’s unique culture is defined by The Hemmera Way –  a collective way of thinking that defines employees’ behaviours, actions, and attitudes and their approach to projects and working relationships. A differentiator from the competition, The Hemmera Way drives our collective values of being people based, business focused, and values driven while delivering performance excellence to clients and projects.

Hemmera supports our employees in applying these values to address challenging and exciting environmental concerns. These values also inform Hemmera’s initiatives and recognition programs such as a quarterly employee award, ongoing training opportunities, and company culture-building activities.

“Being acknowledged as a top employer in BC for the fifth year in a row is a testament to the fact that we as a team continue to grow, learn, and live The Hemmera Way, every day,” said Greg Quandt, Senior Vice President, National Operations. “We are proud to have such dedicated and talented employees, not only in BC, but all across Canada.”

The BC’s Top Employers award recognizes employers across the province that lead their industries in offering exceptional places to work. Employers are evaluated by the editors of Canada’s Top 100 Employers using eight criteria: Physical Workplace; Work Atmosphere and Social; Health, Financial, and Family Benefits; Vacation and Time Off; Employee Communications; Performance Management; Training and Skills Development; and Community Involvement. Employers are compared to other organizations in their field to determine which offer the most progressive and forward-thinking programs.

 

About Hemmera
Hemmera, a wholly owned subsidiary of Ausenco, is a leading Canadian environmental consultancy valued for our expertise and boutique approach. Our highly respected professionals have created opportunities for sustainable growth and balanced development for our clients. With a reputation for integrity and technical excellence, Hemmera offers progressive environmental services in Site Assessment and Remediation, Environmental Planning and Ecology, Human Environment, and Geomatics.

Mediacorp Canada Inc.
Mediacorp Canada Inc. manages the well-known Canada’s Top 100 Employers project and the Eluta.ca job search engine. BC’s Top Employers is an annual competition organized by the editors of Canada’s Top 100 Employers. Entering its 13th year, this special regional category recognizes the British Columbia employers that lead their industries in offering exceptional places to work.

 

Hemmera welcomes Gonzalo Rios as the Mining Lead for Eastern Canada

Gonzalo RiosHemmera is pleased to announce that Gonzalo Rios has joined the Oakville team as the Mining Lead for Eastern Canada. Gonzalo has 25 years of experience holding corporate management positions at several mining companies with operations throughout North America and Latin America. With a B.Sc. (chemistry), and an MBA, he is a safety and environmental engineer and has expertise on enterprise risk management. Gonzalo also offers clients unique and balanced technical and operational expertise across the sustainability spectrum including health, safety, and environmental management; stakeholder engagement; community development; and relationships with regulatory and government agencies.

Committed to building strong relationships with regulatory and government agencies, Gonzalo is experienced developing closure plans and permitting requirements for the mining industry in Chile and South America. He has worked on open pit and underground precious metal and copper mining projects, managing not only on the environmental impact assessment process, as well as preparing and submitting mining sector or operational permits. Gonzalo is also experienced managing the development and execution of several closure plans for open pit and underground mines, including mills, tailings dams, mine waste deposits, spent dumps, pits, tunnels, and other infrastructure. He has managed the closure plans of more than 10 different mine sites on a yearly basis and conducted the closure cost estimate / asset retirement obligation for all sites at Pan American Silver and Aura Minerals during his tenure there. He also has vast experience on water quality assessment and superficial and underground water monitoring programs.