JOIN US FOR A WATERSHED MOMENT AT “PARKSVILLE 2019”: British Columbia’s Professional Governance Act in combination with a vision for ‘restorative land development’ set the stage for 2nd Annual Vancouver Island Symposium on Water Stewardship in a Changing Climate

Note to Reader:

Professional reliance takes different forms across the natural resources sector, but in general terms is a regulatory model in which government sets the natural resource management objectives or results to be achieved, and professionals hired by proponents decide how those objectives or results will be met. 

In June 2018, British Columbia’s Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy completed a review of professional reliance in the natural resource sector to ensure the highest professional, technical and ethical standards are being applied to resource management in British Columbia. 

In October 2018, the Minister introduced the Professional Governance Act (Bill 49-2018). The legislation is designed to make sure decisions affecting the province’s natural resources are science-based, transparent and protect B.C.’s unique environment for future generations.

The Goal: Reconnect Hydrology and Ecology!

The rhythms of water are changing in British Columbia. What happens on the land in the creekshed does matter to streams – thus, the time has come to reconnect hydrology and ecology! Yes, communities can decrease their destructive footprint while increasing their restoration footprint. The Parksville 2019 Symposium will celebrate local government initiatives that are ‘getting it right’. Follow the leaders!

Join us in the City of Parksville on the east coast of mid-Vancouver Island for a field day on April 2, followed by a 2-day symposium on on Water Stewardship in a Changing Climate on April 3rd and 4th. The daily symposium themes are Sustainable Stream Restoration and Restorative Land Development, respectively.

To Register:


Professional Reliance: Trickle-Down Consequences in the Local Government Sector

High profile and adverse consequences of BC’s ‘professional reliance model’ have been well-publicized in the natural resource management sector. In response, and as part of its platform to update stewardship of natural resources, the provincial government recently introduced legislation to implement a Professional Governance Act.

The legislation provides for an Office of Professional Regulation and Oversight. These developments also provide the impetus for a parallel conversation in the local government sector about expectations, desired outcomes, performance and accountability.

“This legislation is about making sure we live up to our responsibilities to British Columbians in protecting our natural heritage for our kids and grandkids,” said George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy. “British Columbians are rightly proud of our natural resources and environment — they represent who we are and where we’ve come from. This legislation recognizes that legacy and symbolizes a recommitment to putting the public interest first when it comes to managing our natural resources.

Professional Governance Act (Bill 49-2018) follows a public engagement process to review the Professional Reliance model of decision-making and an independent report and recommendations by noted environmental lawyer Mark Haddock.

“These changes will help strengthen public trust that the health and safety of their communities always comes first,” said Sonia Furstenau, MLA for Cowichan Valley.“They will also give greater certainty to industry and qualified professionals. I am encouraged that government has acted quickly to implement these key recommendations from Mark Haddock’s report and I am hopeful that we will also see action on his other recommendations.”

Ensuring Oversight and Accountability

Not generally well-understood are the trickle-down consequences, experienced over the past decade, of ‘professional reliance’ in the local government sector. Looking ahead, reinvigoration of the provincial guidance and oversight function is essential to help local governments truly be effective in moving B.C. communities towards restorative land development and ‘get it right’. This is anticipated to be a central theme at the Parksville 2019 Symposium.

Local governments are implementers. This means they can be change leaders. With a renewed provincial commitment of resources, restorative development would be achievable. The good news is that – starting with Living Water Smart, British Columbia’s Water Plan in 2008 – a provincial policy, program and regulatory framework is already in place to bring this desired outcome to fruition.

To Learn More:

Professional Reliance Model in British Columbia (June 2018): Review recommends restructuring the governance of the professional associations by creating new legislation and an independent Office of Professional Regulation and Oversight

Professional Reliance Model – decreased public confidence prompts action in British Columbia

Professional Governance Act (Bill 49-2018) introduced in British Columbia to make sure decisions affecting the province’s natural resources are science-based, transparent and protect B.C.’s unique environment for future generations

Professional Reliance in British Columbia: Trickle-Down Consequences in the Local Government Sector