Mike Carter, Chetwynd Echo
OTTAWA – The Joint Review Panel on BC Hydro’s proposed Site C dam is inviting the public to comment on the draft public hearing procedures.
The panel is reviewing the amended Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) from BC Hydro and at the same time, is seeking written input from members of the public, aboriginal groups and governments on the procedures which detail how the public hearing will unfold.
After reviewing any comments received, the panel will issue a final version of the procedures and begin the public hearing phase.
According to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, the Joint Review Panel (JRP) will “determine whether the EIS is sufficient or if the proponent must provide additional information before the panel schedules the public hearing.”
The JRP will issue a notice of hearing at least 30 days before the start of the process.
The panel must receive written comments on the hearing procedures by September 16, 2013. All comments received will be considered public and posted on the online public registry.
The JRP has been mandated by the cooperative environmental assessment’s terms of reference to conduct a review of the environmental, economic, social, health and heritage effects of the proposed project.
The panel, consisting of Chairman and current Indian Affairs and Northern Development audit committee member Harry Swain, professional engineer and senior natural resources expert James Mattison and communications consultant Jocelyne Beaudet was appointed by the federal and provincial Minister’s of the environment in early August.
“The panel considers the public hearing to be an essential part of the review process, and will give careful consideration to all submissions and presentations,” the draft procedures state.
Within 90 days of the completion of the public hearing, the JRP will submit a report to the federal minister of the environment and the BC Environmental Assessment Office executive director, giving its conclusions and recommendations as they relate to the project and supporting rationale.
The public hearing process is intended to provide the panel with relevant information from participants to be considered from an independent standpoint.
Opportunities will be open for the proponent to explain the project and respond to concerns raised, as well, the hearing will allow an avenue for other participants to provide their perspective.
Factors to be considered are the purpose of, need for and alternatives to the proposed project, and their respective environmental impacts.
Hearing sessions are open to all members of the public, except in cases where a confidential session has been granted by the JRP.
Written submissions and oral presentations from the public and others are encouraged.
To view the draft hearing procedures or to obtain information on the environmental assessment of the project, visit: www.ceaa-acee.gc.ca/050/details-eng.cfm?evaluation=63919.
Written comments can be sent to the following environmental assessment agents:
Courtney Trevis, Panel Co-Manager Site C Review Panel Secretariat 160 Elgin Street, 22nd Floor Ottawa, ON K1A 0H3 Phone: 613-960-0286 Toll Free: 1-866-582-1884 Fax: 613-957-0935 Email: SiteCReview@ceaa-acee.gc.ca
Sean Moore, Panel Co-Manager Site C Review Panel Secretariat 4th Floor, 836 Yates St. PO Box 9426 Stn Prov Govt Victoria BC V8W 9V1 Phone: 250-387-3209 Fax: 250-356-6448 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org