Environmental assessment (EA) is the process we use to build, assess and review proposed development, activities, plans, programs and policies to help maximize benefits and minimize harms. Done right, it is our main planning and decision-making tool for ensuring long-term sustainability.
There are three broad categories of environmental assessment.
- Project-level EA focuses on the impacts, benefits, risks and uncertainties of a specific proposal.
- Strategic EA assesses the environmental implications of a policy, plan or program, and identifies policy gaps (such as how to consider climate change in environmental decision-making) in order to ensure the sustainability of broader government decisions and initiatives.
- Regional EA involves determining the “lay of the land” in an entire region by identifying existing cumulative impacts, assessing alternative future scenarios for that region, determining a shared vision of the future, and ensuring that decisions and activities in that region align with that shared vision.
At West Coast, we believe environmental assessment law and policy are fundamental legal tools to ensure proper planning and decision-making when it comes to environmental, community and democratic health, and have worked tirelessly to help strengthen EA law and policy in BC and Canada.
We regularly engage in law and policy reform discussions at both the federal and provincial levels, and have seats on multi-interest advisory committees for both the BC Environmental Assessment Office (BCEAO) and Environment and Climate Change Canada.
We also provide legal support and strategic advice to BC First Nations working on EA issues, and offer support to individuals and community groups participating in EA processes through our Environmental Dispute Resolution Fund (EDRF).