BC Exempts Ski Resorts from Enviro Review

The BC Government has exempted ski resorts from the Environmental Assessment process. Through an Order in Council, the Minister of Environment changed the regulation determining what projects are subject to the review. Starting immediately, development of new ski areas (like and including the proposed Jumbo resort) and expansion of existing ski areas no longer have to assess the potential impact to the environment.

UPDATE: Minister Polak has announced that the Order in Council will be rescinded in order to consult with First Nations regarding the provisions for natural gas facilities. We expect that a new Order will be coming to re-establish the exemption for ski resorts. Nevertheless, in a separate statement, the Ministry of Environment has declared that the proposed Jumbo Glacier Resort will always be subject to environmental assessment due to the prior approval process.

“This is an obvious trade-off of ecological integrity in exchange for expedient development for the Jumbo Resort proponent,” said David Reid, Executive Director of the West Kootenay EcoSociety. The non-profit group has been at the forefront of the effort to protect the Jumbo Valley area for twenty years. “We are appalled that the BC government would exempt such a high-impact use from environmental scrutiny.”

The Jumbo Resort received its environmental approval in 2004 after a lengthy review process. After an extension in 2009, the certificate will expire in October 2014 if the developer does not substantially start construction. A ski resort proposed for Valemount BC is now in the planning stages, and is being developed by the same architect behind the Jumbo proposal. 

Last week, the BC Supreme Court ruled against the Ktunaxa Nation Council in its case against the Jumbo development. The Ktunaxa Nation argued that the spiritual significance of the area should preclude permanent settlement, but the court disagreed.

The proposed ski resort, which would include over 6000 beds at full build out, still faces a legal challenge from West Kootenay EcoSociety. The society’s case charges that the Province acted illegally when it created a municipality with no residents in order to expedite planning for the resort. 

See below for more detail on the changes to the Reviewable Projects Regulation. 


Amendment of the Reviewable Projects Regulation

The Province of British Columbia has amended the Reviewable Projects Regulation to remove the requirement for an environmental assessment for sweet natural gas processing plants and ski and all-season resorts.

Both of these categories of projects are already subject to robust review and approval exercises by other provincial government agencies.

This move will reduce duplication, while freeing up Environmental Assessment Office resources for reviews of other important projects with the potential for significant adverse effects.

Changes to the Regulation

The requirement for new and expanded ski and all-season resorts to obtain an environmental assessment is removed entirely.

For natural gas processing plants, the amendment removes the volume-based trigger and a project will need to have sulphur emissions of 2 tonnes or more per day to be reviewable. The effect is to remove the requirement for an environmental assessment for sweet natural gas processing plants.

The changes do not affect the provisions in the Environmental Assessment Act that allow the Minister of Environment to designate a project as reviewable, if the minister is satisfied that the project may have a significant adverse environmental, economic, social, heritage or health effect and that the designation is in the public interest.

Regulation of Sweet Gas Plants and All-Season Resorts

Sweet natural gas plants use a proven technology with a relatively small footprint that can be fully remediated on closure. The plants are reviewed, authorized and regulated by the BC Oil and Gas Commission.

The Resort Master Plan sets out a detailed plan of proposed community and recreational infrastructure as well as proposed real estate development within a resort area and provides detailed technical and management information necessary to support the sustainable development of a resort.

The Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations has an established Master Plan review process; exempting resorts eliminates a duplication of effort and the potential for undue delays in the decision making process.

The Reviewable Projects Regulation

The following link is to the Order in Council ammending the Reviewable Projects Regulation:

For More Information

You can find out more about how the Ministry of Forest, Lands and Natural Resource Operations regulates all-season resorts here:

For more information about the BC Oil and Gas Commissions regulation of natural gas processing plants, you can look here: