Cohen Report Cites Problems with RAR Implementation

The report of the Cohen Commission of Inquiry into the Decline of Sockeye Salmon in the Fraser River has been released. Given that the Commission’s terms of reference included consideration of freshwater habitat matters, it was maybe inevitable that Commissioner Bruce Cohen would hear evidence and make recommendations regarding the Riparian Areas Regulation, including the effect of the Court of Appeal’s decision in Yanke v. Salmon Arm. In that case, it was decided that, once a "qualified environmental professional" has determined that a particular proposed development will not result in harmful alteration, disruption or destruction of fish habitat, neither the B.C. Ministry of Environment nor the Department of Fisheries and Oceans has any role under the RAR with respect to the question of whether land within a "streamside protection and enhancement area" identified pursuant to the RAR may be disturbed or built upon.

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