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Environmental Assessment

Environmental assessment (EA) is the formalized process of identifying and assessing the impacts and possible contribution to sustainability of a proposed development, decision, plan or policy and then planning to avoid or mitigate negative impacts and advance sustainability priorities. EA falls into two broad categories - project EA and strategic EA. Strategic EA further divides into two sub-categories; regional strategic EA (e.g. focused on impacts on a region of one or more sectors of development), and strategic EA of policies, plans and program proposals (including funding initiatives).

West Coast Environmental Law has worked continuously on EA law and policy because they are fundamental legal tools for ensuring environmental impacts are considered in the planning and decision-making process. We regularly engage in law and policy reform discussions at both the federal and provincial levels, and work on a number of fronts to advance our law reform objectives.

Our EA activities consist of the following:

  • Since its inception in the mid-1990s, West Coast Environmental Law has had an active seat on the federal multi-stakeholder Regulatory Advisory Committee (RAC) to the Minister of Environment on issues of Environmental Assessment.
  • West Coast Environmental Law sits on the BC Environmental Assessment Office’s (BCEAO’s) multi-stakeholder Advisory Committee.
  • We provide legal support and strategic advice to BC First Nations working on EA issues.
  • Our Environmental Dispute Resolution Fund (EDRF) program of legal aid regularly provides support to NGOs/individuals working on EA issues and participating in EA processes.
  • West Coast Environmental Law is an active member of the steering committee of the Canadian Environmental Network’s Environmental Planning and Assessment Caucus whose members include interested citizens, academics and EA practitioners from all across the country.
  • We conduct law reform research and analysis to support our law reform objectives, and collaborate with others to advance those objectives.
  • Together with a number of NGOs, we intervened in the Supreme Court of Canada’s consideration of MiningWatch Canada et al. v. Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, et al. To view the case information, please click here.  

For a list of all publications related to our Environmental Assessment program, please click here.