BC modernizes website for public comments on environmental assessments

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British Columbia’s Environmental Assessment Office (EAO) has launched a new online platform where people can provide feedback during the public comment periods of an environmental assessment.

Dubbed EPIC.engage, the new site has been in development for two years. It uses maps, diagrams and plain-language summaries of technical projects to inform the public and allow their input about whether major projects should be given the greenlight to proceed.

“My ministry’s work on the EPIC.engage app demonstrates innovation and a willingness to work across government to deliver the digital tools that help streamline environmental assessments,” announced George Chow, Minister of Citizens’ Services, in a statement. “Designing apps with open-source code means more people can access solutions and do business with government.”

The EAO stated that EPIC.enage will offer project commenters anonymity while still maintaining protections against “bots” and “people seeking to undermine a project or the assessment process.” 

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The site was designed to remove barriers to participation for those whose voices may be under-represented in decision-making, stated the EAO. It will also feature an enhanced post-submission experience for users where feedback is reflected and responses from others are shared. 

“Opportunities to amend and resubmit feedback, if the original submission does not meet the required submission standards, ensures more people will have their voices heard,” the EAO stated in an announcement. 

Minister of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation, Josie Osborne, noted in a statement that EPIC.engage will help ensure that any concerns or issues are addressed early in the process of assessing major projects.

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