Understanding Environmental Assessment Today: Cases and Issues

Workshop Leader: Chris Joseph
Date: Thursday, October 26; 9:00am to 4:00pm
Location: SFU’s Wosk Centre for Dialogue 580
West Hastings Street, Vancouver, Room 420
Fee: $225.00 + GST

Environmental Assessment (EA) is a process of examining the potential effects of an undertaking, such as a mine, bridge, or even a government policy change. Despite the name, EA typically covers not just potential biophysical effects of an undertaking, but also social, community, economic, health, heritage, or cultural effects.

EA has come to the forefront of the public consciousness with controversial megaprojects such as the recent pipeline expansions. This has led to significant public protest and debate about benefits, adverse effects, and the process itself. As a consequence, many people are interested in learning more about the EA process so that they might understand it better or prepare themselves to participate effectively in it.

This workshop, hosted by SFU’s Faculty of Environment, is intended to support this interest. The workshop is geared towards environmental professionals with at least a basic understanding of the EA process and strives to build greater knowledge, including with respect to current issues in EA. 

The one day, interactive workshop will:

  • Review the EA process, using BC and federal processes for illustration on the mechanics of EA processes;
  • Discuss research evidence on good practice in EA to set context for case study discussions;
  • Explore current issues in EA through current case studies including but not limited to:
    • Ajax Mine (Kamloops), and the emergence of First Nations shaping EA processes
    • Enbridge Northern Gateway, and the place of ‘social license’ in EA decision-making
    • Kinder Morgan TMEP, and the question of benefits of projects
    • Federal reviews of EA and major project review processes (CEAA 2012, NEB), and potential new directions
    • Natural gas development in northeastern BC, and the role of project-level EA vis-à-vis regional cumulative effects management systems

Instructor Biography

Chris Joseph, MRM, PhD

Chris is a consultant, researcher, and facilitator with a range of expertise across the field of environmental management. Much of Chris’ work is in regards to the impacts of major project development, including research and consultation on the environmental, economic, and social impacts of mines, pipelines, offshore oil and gas, offshore renewables (including wind), oil sands, and port and tanker development. Chris has published, consulted, and lectured on the topics of environmental and economic impact assessment, cumulative effects, marine resource planning, environmental valuation, land use plan implementation, GHG emissions and climate policy, resiliency in BC forest communities, sustainability planning, and species at risk. Chris has provided guidance for Environment Canada and the BC Environmental Assessment Office on aspects of environmental impact assessment.

Chris holds a a MRM and PhD from the School of Resource and Environmental Management (REM) at Simon Fraser University in which he examined the nature of megaproject development, ideal practices in impact assessment, current practices in oil sands impact assessment, and the economics of oil sands megaprojects. Chris also holds a BSc (Honours with Distinction) in Geography from the University of Victoria.

Chris is Principal of Swift Creek Consulting and is also Senior Socio-economic Specialist at Canada’s largest engineering firm, SNC Lavalin. In a past life Chris was a freelance photographer/writer and burgeoning mountain guide.