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British Columbia Ministry of Transportation’s Environmental Enhancement Fund Achieving Environmental Sustainability for Transportation Infrastructure


As environmental agencies move from a “hands-on” review and permitting role to one of no permitting or approvals based on the acceptance of Best Management Practices and a auditing role, the concern is: has environmental due diligence and sustainability been met on projects and operational activities? In 2002 the provincial Ministry of Environment (MoE) (formerly Water, Land and Air Protection) announced that they would no longer be reviewing and permitting projects or operational activities under their legislation. In order to meet fiduciary obligations and environmental “due diligence,” the British Columbia Ministry of Transportation ( MoT) developed a Memorandum of Understanding with MoE which covered four areas: communication and approval process, enforcement resolution procedures, operational best management practices and the creation of an environmental enhancement fund. This paper discusses the Environmental Enhancement Fund, its concept, rationale, project implementation, partnering initiatives and project successes. Although environmental mitigation and compensation measures are still an important and required aspect of highway projects, particularly based on CEAA/DFO “no net loss” objective, environmental benefits and opportunities can be lost when formal review and permitting are no longer required. Consequently, the MoT offered to establish a $ 2 million a year enhancement fund that would be tied to the Ministry’s capital plan to meet and exceed environmental sustainability of its infrastructure projects. The program was to run for two years. The MoE stewardship personnel and environmental and project managers from MoT for the three regions of the province met to develop lists of environmental enhancement projects. These were prioritized and costs estimated. The projects and their costs were entered into a data base registry with an equable distribution, where possible, for the three regions. Initially there were more projects identified that in total exceeded the $2 million. In year one 16 projects were identified at a total cost of $3.8 million. In year two 70 projects were identified at a cost of $ 4.0 million. A diverse range of environmental enhancements were undertaken in both years. A large number of fisheries access and habitat improvement projects involved partnerships with DFO, First Nations and Stream-Keeper groups. In addition, a number of property acquisitions of environmentally sensitive lands were achieved through partnering with groups such as: Nature Trust, Ducks Unlimited, Land Conservancy and the Pacific Salmon Foundation. Examples of a number of these projects highlight the successful ability of the MoT and its partners in meeting and exceeding environmental sustainability objectives for transportation infrastructure. The Environmental Enhancement Fund offers a model for transportation agencies and municipal governments to ensure environmental due diligence on capital projects

Conference Paper Details

Session title:
Environmental issues, Environmental legislation