Monday, October 25, 2010

BC Cabinet Shuffle - the Dirt Ministries

My work area of interest is all the ministries that deal with land and resources - the so called dirt ministries.  Today's shuffle seems to have made some smart changes to how the government approaches these ministries with the creation of the Ministry of Natural Resource Operations.

 I was a fan of the 2001 creation of the ministry of Sustainable Resource Management and the explicit name of of the ministry of the environment being the Ministry of Air Water and Land Protection.   It is clear to me that the government staff in different dirt ministries have different interests and easily fall into protection of their turf over the looking at the overarching picture.   MSRM was a well thought approach to have a ministry and minister as the referee in land use planning issues.

Looking at the responsibilities of this new ministry, it looks like the government missed on creating someone that really will have their eye on the overarching picture of lands in BC.    The Environmental Assessment Office remains in the ministry of the Environment - this is a mistake, the EAO is about resource planning and not the "environment".   The EAO is best linked with the Integrated Land Management Bureau and other government branches that deal with planning as it relates to lands and resources.

What we have is a ministry that will be taking on a lot of planning roles from a host of different ministries.  I like that a lot of the planning in under one roof, but some of the areas it will deal with are a bit of surprise to me.

What the ministry will be dealing with:
  • Crown land allocation and authorizations
  • Forests and range authorizations
  • Roads/bridges/engineering (I assume resource roads)
  • Independent power production (interestingly not under the Minister of Energy)
  • Mines and minerals permitting and inspections (separate from the Minister of Forests, Mines and Lands)
  • Mineral and coal titles
  • Aquaculture licensing and regulation
  • Water use planning and authorizations
  • Aboriginal consultation and coordination – natural resource operations (this would pull all the aboriginal consultation staff out of the other ministries?)
  • Resorts and alpine ski developments (Not under tourism)
  • Licensing and permitting for angling, hunting and trapping (no longer ministry of the environment)
  • GeoBC and information management
  • FrontCounter BC
  • Provincial hatchery and stocking program (no longer Ministry of the Environment)
  • Watershed restoration (no longer Ministry of the Environment)
  • Fish, wildlife and habitat management (no longer Ministry of the Environment)
  • Drought management
  • Dam and dyke safety and regulation
  • Flood plain management
  • Pests, disease, invasive plants and species
  • Public backcountry and commercial recreation
  • Recreation sites and trails
  • Archaeology and Heritage Conservation Act permitting
  • Resource management compliance (I assume they will be responsible for all the land use plans and the outcomes of all environmental assessments)
  • Crown land restoration (no longer Ministry of the Environment)
  • Forest investment operations
  • Wildfire management (No longer Ministry of Forests)
Major Agencies, Boards and Commissions of the ministry
  • Oil and Gas Commission (not with the Minister of Energy)
  • Muskwa-Kechika Advisory Board
  • Mediation and Arbitration Board (should this not be with the Solicitor General?)
  • Assayers Certification Board of Examiners
I suspect I will be dealing with this new ministry a lot as many issues related to consultation and land tenures fall under this ministry.

The minister is Steve Thomson from Kelowna and until recently the Minister of Agriculture and Lands, I am interested to see how it plays out with him as minister.

The "Dirt" Ministries:
  • Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation – Hon. Barry Penner
  • Minister of Agriculture – Hon. Ben Stewart
  • Minister of Energy – Hon. Bill Bennett
  • Minister of Environment – Hon. Murray Coell
  • Minister of Forests, Mines and Lands – Hon. Pat Bell
  • Minister of Natural Resource Operations – Hon. Steve Thomson
  • Minister of Regional Economic and Skills Development – Hon. Moira Stilwell
  • Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure – Hon. Shirley Bond
We now have 8 ministers that are dealing in whole or part with lands and natural resources in BC.

Minsters of State or Parlimentary Secretaries
  • Minister of State for Climate Action – Hon. John Yap
  • Minister of State for Mining – Hon. Randy Hawes
  • Parliamentary Secretary for the Mountain Pine Beetle Action Committees to the Minister of Regional Economic and Skills Development – Donna Barnett
  • Parliamentary Secretary for the Natural Gas Initiative to the Minister of Energy – Pat Pimm
  • Parliamentary Secretary for Silviculture to the Minister of Forests, Mines and Lands – John Rustad
  • Parliamentary Secretary for Water Stewardship to the Minister of Environment – John Slater
We have a further six MLAs with some role in lands and natural resources for a total of 14 government MLAs.

I am going to spend more time looking at the details of what functions fall under which ministers.

More of my confusion here.


Andrew Gage said...

Hi BC Inconoclast - As I read it, the new Ministry does not have a major planning/resource management function (unlike Ministry of Sustainable Resource Management). Seems more like a return to Land and Water BC, not MSRM. Would love to be proved wrong. Here's my blog post on the subject.

Bernard said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bernard said...

Hi there Andrew, thanks for the link, here is a clickable version

The more I look at it, the less I am clear how this ministry will work and how the other ministries can continue doing their work. I posted my quick read of it before the media reports were out about it.

I had hoped for a return to something MSRM like because that model was the best I had seen anywhere. It also meant BC had the only ministry of the environment that had protection of the environment as its only role. One aspect of the changes means that the role for the ministry of environment is much more one of protection than it was yesterday.

I concerns me that there is still no minister clearly responsible for land use planning in BC. Our province is still 94% Crown lands but there is no one at the cabinet table who holds the long vision for lands in BC.

Unknown said...

Hi Bernard -

I am just wondering where does ILMB fall, or is ILMB getting dispersed?