Community Benefit Policy
B.C. is blessed with an abundance of natural resources. Timber, coal, natural gas, water and precious metals are available for extraction and development. The development of our natural resources will provide a stable economy and quality of life to British Columbians for generations to come. B.C. also has an Environmental Assessment (EA) requirement for projects which include:
- industrial projects: chemical manufacturing, primary metal and forest project industries;
- energy projects: power plants, electric transmission lines, natural gas processing or storage plants and transmission pipelines;
- water management projects: water diversions, dams, dykes, groundwater extraction;
- waste disposal projects: special waste facilities, local government solid and liquid waste management facilities;
- mine projects: coal and mineral mines, sand and gravel pits, placer mineral mines, construction stone and industrial mineral quarries and off-shore mines;
- food processing projects: meat and meat projects manufacturing and fish processing;
- transportation projects: large public highways and railways, large ferry terminals and marine ports; and
- tourist destination resort projects: large golf, marine, or ski hill destinations.
The people, communities and governments that support major projects are faced with significant challenges related to each new or expanded project.
Communities are required to provide accommodation, health care, staging and service support, recreation, social services, retail and hospitality services as well as emergency services, policing and infrastructure.
Some projects have large workforce requirements during their construction stage. The addition of large numbers of temporary workers requires accommodation and transportation capacity.
Community issues and impacts are documented and articulated using a community consultation model, which is executed during the project development, assessment and approval stages, as required by the EA process.
Most major projects have a “compensate or remediate” strategy with regard to community impacts.
Industry’s strategy of compensation or remediation may lead to a “wait and see” approach to community issues. This approach leaves communities with the responsibility for risk management, uncertainty and the burden of proof when seeking compensation.
One concept that has been suggested is the adoption of a strategy that will leave a community “better off” instead of compensated.
Better off at the project development level is the difference between a temporary camp with trucked in water and sewer services and a fully developed camp site that leaves in ground water and sewer infrastructure constructed to municipal standards. After the project, the site can be used for permanent development.
Better off, at the community legacy level, could be a trust that is established to facilitate community and service organizations being able to build capacity at the local level for the long term benefit of the community.
The Chamber believes that the end result must be a balance between mitigating the risks associated with major projects and creating communities that are vibrant, sustainable and stable.
THE CHAMBER RECOMMENDS:
That the Provincial Government works with communities and stakeholders to adopt a Community Benefit Legacy Policy that meets the needs of business and communities.