Message from the Minister and
Transformative change has been the key to British Columbia's progress in the past four and a half years. Our province has experienced remarkable economic revitalization, fiscal renewal and societal achievement. In February 2005, the government set out its Five Great Goals for B.C.'s golden decade to continue this transformation and sharpen the focus on key priorities that will benefit British Columbians and the environment. (See the Strategic Context section of this report for a list of the Five Great Goals.)
In 2005, as part of a government-wide reorganization, the Ministry of Environment was re-established and redefined, and was joined by the Environmental Assessment Office (EAO). The EAO is a neutral agency with its own budget that coordinates the assessment of the environmental impacts of major development proposals in British Columbia.
This joint 2005/06 Annual Service Plan Report outlines the changes that have occurred within the ministry and the EAO over the past year, and reports on our achievements in meeting the government's goals for maintaining our environmental integrity and sustainability, promoting the health of our citizens and encouraging job creation.
We made progress in 2005 by improving the safety and quality of our precious groundwater resource with the coming into effect of the Ground Water Protection Regulation. We have successfully opposed the Sumas Energy 2 project in Washington State, which posed a major threat to our air quality. We continued to strive for the best air quality possible in British Columbia by supporting projects and education to reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. In the decade to come, alternative energy will form an integral part of the government's expanded energy vision. In 2005/06, we continued our leadership role in supporting alternative energy technology and effective responses to climate change.
British Columbia parks are our heritage, to enjoy and enhance, then pass on for future generations. Our government made significant capital investments in the parks system in 2005/06 and will continue to do so over the next three years. By sustainably managing this rich legacy, residents and visitors alike are encouraged to explore our province's special places and world-renowned natural beauty. This increases the appreciation of British Columbians for wilderness protection and environmental stewardship, while promoting an active lifestyle.
In 2005/06, the ministry continued to develop collaborative and innovative approaches to environmental stewardship. The new Central Coast and North Coast land use plans cover an area the size of Belgium and a protected area three times the size of Prince Edward Island. They represent an unprecedented collaboration between First Nations, communities, industries, environmental organizations and government. The newly established conservancy designation under the Park Act sets aside Crown Land for the protection of its biological diversity, natural environments and recreational values, and the preservation and maintenance of First Nations' social, ceremonial and cultural uses. The 103,000 hectare Kitasoo Spirit Bear Conservancy will protect the primary habitat of our official provincial mammal, the Spirit Bear.
Other partnerships we have forged in 2005/06 have enabled us to initiate projects across the province to rebuild fish stocks, improve oceans management, improve water quality, and support species recovery. We also are working with partners across government to help mitigate the devastating effects of the mountain pine beetle and are developing simpler and more direct ways for the public to report poachers and polluters. In 2005, we introduced the B.C. Conservation Corps program, which provides work opportunities for students and recent graduates to promote interest in conservation and environmental careers.
Due to a strong provincial economy fueling mining and energy in the province, along with BC Hydro's call for clean energy and run-of-the-river projects, the Environmental Assessment Office has continued to manage a high workload in 2005/06. Throughout the year, the EAO managed 50 projects, which were in the pre-application and application stages, made three project referrals to ministers for decision, and handled a number of Environmental Certificate Amendments.
The Environmental Assessment Office recently received the 2005/06 Premier's Award for organizational excellence. Receiving this honour is a significant achievement and recognizes the EAO for its performance excellence, best practices and innovative approaches to managing its unprecedented workload.
Collectively, British Columbians understand that the environment, the economy and all social systems are interdependent. We recognize that there are limits to the carrying capacity of our world, and we all share responsibility for the stewardship of our environment.
The government's Five Great Goals set the bar high. The ministry will continue to build new relationships, engage citizens, promote the sustainable use of British Columbia's environmental resources and improve the health of our water, land and air. This 2005/06 Annual Service Plan Report provides an account of our work to date with local governments, regional districts, stakeholders, First Nations and citizens across British Columbia. As a province, we have come a long way in four and a half years, but we have further to go to create sustainable, vibrant communities that make wise use of our natural assets and will provide for their use in generations to come.
The 2005/06 Ministry of Environment including the Environmental Assessment Office Annual Service Plan Report compares the actual results to expected results identified in the joint 2005/06 – 2007/08 Service Plan Update. I am accountable for those results as reported.
Honourable Barry Penner
Minister of Environment
Minister Responsible for Water Stewardship and Sustainable Communities
June 30, 2006