BC Environmental Assessment Office (EAO) 101
The BC Environmental Assessment Process can be broken down into three distinct periods. The first period is pre-application, the second period is the Application Review Stage, and the final period it the Decision Stage.
During the pre-application phase, the government works with the project proponent (company that is making the application) to make sure that the application will contain all the relevant information for the EAO to complete the assessment and make a recommendation. This includes creating a "working group" with representatives of different government agencies to advise the EAO about different aspects of the project that is being reviewed. It also included the formulation of the DAIR (Draft Application Information Requirements) which details what studies must be done by the proponent and what must be included in the application. Two public comment periods are incorporated into this step of the review process. After the second public comment period, the public does not have access to the evolution of the DAIR.
During this period, the proponent (and their hired consultants) undertakes the studies necessary to inform the government and the public about their plans and their estimation of the potential impacts of their project.
After the application is submitted to the BC EAO, the BC EAO has 30 days to decide whether or not the application is complete.
Application Review Stage
When the EAO accepts the application, the process enters the Application Review Phase. In this phase, the EAO has up to 180 days to complete a review of the project. Once the application is accepted it is made available to the public so that it can be reviewed by the public. Shortly thereafter, there is a public comment period (typically 45-60 days).
During the review period, the EAO consults with the working group members and the proponent to review the different aspects of the proposal.
The BC EAO creates a report that includes the findings of the assessment. Before this is made public it is shared in draft form with the working group, first nations groups and the proponent. The application is then finalized and released to the public. The recommendations and a draft environmental assessment certificate are provided to the Ministers, but not the public.
At this stage the government Ministers involved in the project receive a copy of the documentation and have 45 days to come to a decision. After the decision is made, the decision and recommendations are made public.
For more information visit the BC EAO website at: http://www.eao.gov.bc.ca/