Mining permit backlog under Liberals still too large, New Democrats say
VICTORIA – Progress toward addressing the massive backlog and sluggish turnaround in permitting for mining under the Liberal government is still too slow, said New Democrat mining critic Doug Donaldson.
“In 2007, the average turnaround for mining permits was 55 days,” said Donaldson. “Under the Liberals, the turnaround shot up to 110 days, and they’ve only managed to get that down to 85. Even worse, their goal is only to get it to 60 at some point.
“The Liberals seem to have lost hope in their own ability to reduce red tape, when they acknowledge they can’t even hit turnaround levels from five years ago.”
Donaldson said the Liberals admitted that the backlog of permits had spiraled out of control under their watch and promised this year’s budget would reflect an investment in tackling the issue.
“The Liberal promise to reducing the backlog and turnaround time hasn’t really played out on the ground,” said Donaldson. “Thanks to a drop in the number of applications, the Liberals have had some time to tackle the stack of old permits sitting on their desk, but the turnaround is still too slow for the province’s industry and hampers its ability to compete with other jurisdictions.”
Adrian Dix and the New Democrats have been raising concerns in the legislature about the Liberal government permit backlog. In February, Donaldson said, “It was this government, over their 11-year tenure, that has created this backlog situation in the first place. So one would expect that, in order to deal with the fundamental reasons around how permits became so backlogged, there'd be some resources so that some of the front-line ministries dealing with these permit applications could actually process them in a thorough manner.”
Donaldson said on top of their bungling of the permit process, the Liberals have failed to create a framework for consultation with First Nations, and have little credibility with the public when it comes to handling environmental standards. “The Liberals’ poor management of the mining file during a time of high commodity prices has resulted in lost opportunities.”