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City of Surrey foreshore project granted exemption from environmental assessment

Press Release

July 3, 2024

VICTORIA – The minister of environment and climate change strategy has determined that the Mud Bay Nature-Based Foreshore Enhancement project will not require an environmental assessment certificate to move forward.

The City of Surrey’s Mud Bay project involves building a nature-based form of flood protection known as a living dike. The project aims to elevate the existing salt marsh to mitigate coastal flooding, reduce wave energy and enhance biodiversity. It will also help protect critical infrastructure, recreational areas, agricultural land, private property, and various significant historical, cultural and archeological resources.

While the project met the threshold to require an environmental assessment certificate, a formal request for exemption was submitted by the City of Surrey. Following review of the exemption request and consultation with First Nations, technical advisors and the public, as well as addressing concerns raised by the federal government regarding the marine environment, the Environmental Assessment Office (EAO) recommended the project be exempt from an environmental assessment as it poses minimal risk of significant adverse effects.

The minister has granted an exemption order under the Environmental Assessment Act. The project can now move ahead with permitting on the condition that the City of Surrey notify the EAO when work begins and allow for continued monitoring. The permitting and application process with local governments is comprehensive and examines many of the same factors, including potential impacts on the environment.

An exemption order allows a reviewable project to proceed without requiring an environmental assessment certificate. Exemptions are formally requested by project proponents and are only issued in rare cases in which a comprehensive review by the EAO has established that the project will not result in significant adverse environmental, economic, social, cultural or health effect, or have significant effects on First Nations. This is the first exemption order granted under the Environmental Assessment Act, which came into force in 2019.

Learn More:

To know the reasons for the minister’s decision, visit: https://www.projects.eao.gov.bc.ca/api/public/document/668444c5f9056000223d1ded/download/Mud%20Bay%20-%20Certificate%20Exemption%20Order%20-%20Reasons%20for%20Decision%20-%2020240703.pdf

For information on the Mud Bay Foreshore Enhancement project, visit the link and search Mud Bay: https://projects.eao.gov.bc.ca/projects-list

Or visit the City of Surrey’s project page: https://www.surrey.ca/services-payments/water-drainage-sewer/flood-control-and-prevention/coastal-flood-adaptation-projects/mud-bay

For more information about the environmental assessment process, visit: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/environment/natural-resource-stewardship/environmental-assessments

A backgrounder follows.

Contact:

Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy
on behalf of the Environmental Assessment Office
Media Relations
250 953-3834

BACKGROUNDER

  • Under the Environmental Assessment Act, the minister of environmental and climate change strategy may determine that an environmental assessment certificate is not required for a proposed project that would otherwise be reviewable under the Reviewable Projects Regulation.
  • Proponents must submit a formal request for exemption to the EAO.
  • The EAO consults with relevant government agencies (provincial, federal and local levels), the public and potentially affected First Nations regarding the exemption request and the potential for adverse effects to determine if an exemption order can be granted.
  • The EAO’s public comment period ran from Jan. 11, 2023, to Feb. 27, 2023, and included an in-person open house at Surrey City Hall, as well as a virtual information session.
  • The City of Surrey has worked closely with Semiahmoo First Nation since 2016 to assess potential impacts of the project on their rights.
  • The EAO consulted with Semiahmoo First Nation to understand its concerns.
  • All necessary permits and other applicable approvals from other regulatory agencies are still required.

Contact:

Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy
on behalf of the Environmental Assessment Office
Media Relations
250 953-3834

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