Currently, British Columbia’s environmental assessment and protection laws do not apply on Indian reserves. In the Nisga’a Final Agreement, the Nisga’a will share jurisdiction for environmental assessment and protection with the federal and provincial governments and must meet or exceed those governments’ standards. Provincial and federal laws will prevail if Nisga’a laws and standards conflict.
The Nisga’a will have shared authority with Canada and British Columbia for environmental assessment of development proposals on Nisga’a Lands. The federal and provincial laws will prevail if laws conflict.
One of the priorities for environmental assessment legislation has been to bring together the approval and permitting requirements of different jurisdictions under one streamlined process, saving money for taxpayers and project proponents. The same goal will be pursued on Nisga’a Lands. While initially Canada and British Columbia will both be able to require that their environmental assessment processes be used, the goal is to develop one harmonized process on Nisga’a Lands so that project proponents will know they have to satisfy one process, not three.
Should the Nisga’a decide they want primary responsibility for environmental assessment on Nisga’a Lands, Canada, British Columbia and the Nisga’a are committed to negotiating an agreement to allow this. The environmental assessment standards developed by the Nisga’a must meet or exceed provincial and federal standards.
Whether environmental assessments are conducted under shared authority or after negotiations have allowed the Nisga’a primary responsibility, the Final Agreement sets out specific consultation requirements. The interests of affected parties will be protected through guarantees of their right to be heard and to have their concerns taken into account in assessing development proposals for Nisga’a Lands.
Canada and British Columbia retain their authority for environmental
assessment of projects outside Nisga’a Lands. When a proposed project which
may affect Nisga’a interests enters the environmental assessment process,
the Nisga’a will be consulted consistent with the current practice of consulting
local governments, the public and other interested parties.
The Nisga’a will share authority for environmental protection with Canada
and British Columbia, but federal and provincial laws will prevail if laws
conflict. British Columbia and the Nisga’a may negotiate agreements to
allow the Nisga’a to provide provincial environmental protection programs
and services on Nisga’a Lands and surrounding areas.
The Nisga’a, Canada and British Columbia have agreed to enforce their
respective environmental laws and not to relax environmental standards
for the purpose of attracting economic opportunities.
For further information on this or other topics, contact:
Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs
4th Floor, 908 Pandora Avenue
Victoria BC V8W 1X4