The Role of the Community Advisory Group (CAG) in the Environmental Assessment Process

Posted by Stop Ajax Mine on June 20th, 2012 8:50pm

The BC Government created the CAG in order to ensure that the concerns, questions and suggestions of the general public were heard, and dealt with in a transparent manner. It is therefore only logical that the CAG should be fully involved throughout the Environmental Assessment (EA) review process. It is far more representative of the general public of Kamloops and area than is the Technical Working Group. The latter consists of about 45 members, 36 of whom represent federal and provincial departments and agencies. The balance are First Nations representatives, municipal officials (TNRD), and one member who represents the City of Kamloops. In contrast, the CAG has a broad and diverse membership, widely representative of the residents of Kamloops and the surrounding area. And most importantly, it is independent of government influence.


The membership of CAG includes the following organizations; Grasslands Conservation Council of BC, Kamloops Area Preservation Association (KAPA) Kamloops Naturalist Club, Kamloops & District Fish & Game Association, Kamloops Astronomical Society, Kamloops Stockmen's Association, Pineview Community Group, Thompson Institute of Environmental Studies, Aberdeen Highlands Development Corporation, Kamloops Fly Fisher's Association, Thompson Watershed Coalition, Aberdeen Community Association, Coalition to protect East Kamloops and the Lac Le Jeune Community Association (representing residents living along the Lac Le Jeune Road adjacent to Kamloops). 

An issue of prime importance to all the CAG members is that of its role in the EA process. 

At the March 28 CAG meeting the Environmental Assessment Office staff were told (unanimously) by the CAG members that the CAG should be afforded the same status in the EA review process as is given to the Technical Working Group. Specifically, the CAG should have equal status in the Application Evaluation, Application Review and Assessment Report phases of the process. KAPA can see no legislative barrier to this request. Indeed, the document provided to the CAG by the EAO titled "The Environmental Assessment Process" states under the heading "Application Review Phase" that the EAO will require the participant to distribute copies of the application "to other review participants, including the working group and First Nations"


It has been suggested by the staff of the EAO that there is no urgency in making a decision on this matter.  KAPA disagrees. The mandate of the CAG should be stated now, so that we all know exactly what our role is. 


If the government does not grant the CAG this status it means that the only group truly representative of the general public (which includes, of course, members of all the CAG groups) will be excluded from full participation in the environmental assessment process.  KAPA suggests that a decision on this issue should be made without further delay. If the CAG is not granted the requested status it raises the issue of why it was created in the first instance, and what will its role be?







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