Natural Resource Road Act update

The 450,000 km of resource roads in B.C. are currently administered under several pieces of legislation

Faced with very pressing timelines, Natural Resource Road Act (NRRA) Phase 2 working groups are thinking and working hard on key issues raised during the Phase 1 public and industry consultation process.

The 14 Working Groups include wide representation from industries, agencies and organizations that have a stake in the future direction of B.C. resource roads. Groups are discussing issues such as the elements of an effective safety framework, how to balance rights to use resource roads with the authority to restrict, the attributes of a fair and efficient cost-sharing mechanism, adopting standards, and how to integrate industry, commercial interests and public access management needs.

Each group is developing a draft report that defines and describes aspects of the issue, identifies viable options and possible solutions, and provides an analysis of each one (advantages and disadvantages, cost and benefits). Draft reports will be reviewed by Ministry leads who will in turn prepare information and decision notes for consideration by Ministry executive (e.g. Cabinet or Executive) so they can make timely decisions on key policy directions that will then guide the drafting of proposed NRRA legislation.

The central issues involved in a wholesale re-working of resource road legislation are closely linked to one another – adjustments aimed at improving one aspect of current policy or operations have consequences for others. For example, selecting the safety framework could have significant implications for what might work with respect to balancing rights and authorities.

Similarly, determining and describing exactly which “roads” are captured (or excluded) in the new legislation will have implications for the suite of construction and maintenance standards that would be appropriate to apply. And because the 450,000 km of resource roads in B.C. are currently administered under several pieces of legislation, each having different processes, rights and obligations, capturing all resource roads in one streamlined Act is, indeed, an ambitious opportunity.

Correctly identifying, understanding and managing those linkages and relationships will be essential to building recommendations that help decision-makers make the right call, and contribute to drafting successful legislation – clear, consistent processes that work – safely – for resource road users.

– BC Forest Safety Council