History of Land and Marine Planning
BC’s land use planning program began in the early 1990s, when it was developed as a tool to ease land use conflict among resource agencies, industry, First Nations and the public, and to deliver the Province’s Protected Areas Strategy. Before this, plans were done more on a site-by-site basis, with less ability to map and assess broad social, economic and environmental trends.
The program was created to:
- improve land use certainty and economic stability
- generate economic opportunities, investment and jobs
- achieve healthy communities and to ensure the long-term viability of the environment.
The province of British Columbia is one of the only jurisdictions in the world that has applied this type of planning in such a systematic way in an effort to balance social, economic and environmental values. BC is also in a unique situation, in that 92% of the land base is still owned by the citizens of BC, which requires land managers to ensure that the interests of all parties are met. Land use planning has evolved considerably since its inception in the early 1990s. Six distinct phases can be identified over the past 16 years, as follows:
The Clayoquot Sound conflict era of the early 1990s and the subsequent Commission on Resources and Environment (CORE) land use plans for the majority of public land on Vancouver Island and then the Cariboo–Chilcotin and Kootenay–Boundary regions. At the same time, the government of the day developed the Forest Practices Code of British Columbia Act (the Code), a part of which enabled a legal framework around plan implementation.
The development and implementation of the first suite of LRMPs (click here for a definition), beginning with Kispiox, Kamloops and Vanderhoof and ending with the completion of the northeast LRMPs (Fort St. John and Fort Nelson) and the establishment of the Northern Rocky Mountains Muskwa–Kechika Management Area (MKMA) in 1997–98. During this phase, the work required for “completion” of the Vancouver Island, Cariboo–Chilcotin and Kootenay–Boundary regions took place.
Completion of most of the interior LRMPs in BC: Robson Valley, Prince George, Lakes, Bulkley Valley, Fort St. James, Cassiar–Iskut Stikine, Dawson Creek, Mackenzie, Okanagan, Kalum and, finally Lillooet by mid-2001. Further, the Forest Practices Code was repealed and two new pieces of legislation and accompanying regulations were identified to take its place: the Forest and Range Practices Act (FRPA) and the Land Amendment Act. A decision was made not to initiate any new LRMPs; however, work on plans that were currently under development was to continue.
Also during this phase, the Province expanded on the vision of landscape unit plans and created a system of local-level plans known as Sustainable Resource Management Plans . SRMPs typically focussed on watershed-sized areas. Planning activities largely included identifying biodiversity conservation zones and objectives (e.g., old-growth management areas, riparian areas, wildlife management areas) to aid in FRPA implementation. In other cases, SRMPs were undertaken to address economic development issues for resources such as tourism and recreation or agriculture. Similar to landscape unit plans, SRMPs bridge the gap between regional-level SLRPs and operational plans.
Continued development of the Central Coast, North Coast, Morice, Sea-to-Sky and Lillooet LRMPs and the Haida Gwaii/Queen Charlotte Islands (HG/QCI) Land Use Plan (LUP), with increased levels of engagement of FNs. Planning table recommendations from the Central Coast and North Coast were sent to government-to-government (G2G) discussions with affected FNs, and resulted in a “Coast Land Use Decision” involving both areas, and supported by specific FNs and government land use planning agreements.
This phase involved concluding G2G negotiations with FNs on the planning table recommendations for Morice, Sea-to-Sky and Lillooet LRMPs, and the HG/QCI LUP. Negotiations continue in different stages for each of these “legacy” plans, and the work that is ongoing is intended to develop mutually supported recommendations to Cabinet and FN leaders. It is assumed that there will be a two to three-year completion phase required for the government decisions on these “legacy” plans.
This current phase involves implementation of the New Direction for all new planning processes, with an emphasis on First Nations collaboration and sound business case development prior to initiating a planning project. Government is shifting its efforts towards coordinated First Nations engagements, which will foster a more coordinated consultation and engagement framework to achieve reconciliation of First Nations interests and concerns. Land use plans and agreements are expected to be one of the tools to support government to government engagements with First Nations.