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The Indigenous Advisory and Monitoring Committee for the Trans Mountain Expansion and Existing Pipeline (IAMC-TMX) yesterday completed its first-ever joint inspection with the British Columbia Environmental Assessment Office (B.C.EAO). This marks the first time the Indigenous Monitors have conducted an inspection with a provincial regulator.
The IAMC-TMX Indigenous Monitors wrapped up the three day inspection in Hope, B.C. after examining the line between Chilliwack and Hope. The inspection also included the Westridge Marine Terminal, the Burnaby tank farm and sites in the metro Vancouver area.
During the three-day inspection the Indigenous Monitors and the B.C. EAO looked at the Burnaby tank farm where 14 new tanks are being built in anticipation of the end of the construction. They also visited two sites near Vancouver where archeological artifacts had been found and reported to regulators and Indigenous groups. These need to be further examined before construction can continue at those sites.
On the final day of the inspection the focus was on inspecting Culturally Modified Trees (CMT) and the proponent’s adherence to the B.C. EAO’s conditions and to Indigenous expectations and standards of practice.
The B.C. EAO issued an environmental assessment certificate for the project in 2017. The provincial certificate has different conditions from the federal Canada Energy Regulator. These cover matters of provincial jurisdiction such as road access t management, invasive species management and protection of Indigenous interests. A key goal of the EAO’s compliance and enforcement work is to engage First Nations in monitoring of projects within their territory, including Indigenous participation in inspections.
As the first inspection with a provincial regulator, it allowed the IAMC-TMX monitors to see compliance monitoring done from another angle, further enhancing their oversight of the project.
The IAMC-TMX Indigenous Monitoring program began as a pilot program in 2017 and since its inception over 170 inspections have been completed with the CER, Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Parks Canada.
The B.C. EAO has a robust compliance and enforcement program that carries out ongoing inspections of major industrial projects to make sure they are following the legally binding requirements of their environmental assessment certificate over the entire life of a project. Projects must be designed, built, operated and decommissioned in compliance with the conditions of the certificate, to help mitigate potential negative effects of a project, including environmental, social, cultural, Indigenous rights, health or economic effects.
“Opening the door to inspections with the BC provincial regulator is an important step forward and the start of a special relationship between the Indigenous Advisory and Monitoring Committee and the B.C. EAO. Participating in inspections with the B.C. EAO will allow our monitors to see the whole picture, which we will be able to relay back to our communities. ”
– Raymond Cardinal, Chair, Indigenous Monitoring Subcommittee
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