The provincial government has been laying the foundation for its new ministry of natural resource operations for quite some time. But, during a technical briefing today, its political boss Steve Thomson couldn't give reporters a deadline for when it would be fully up and running.
The government announced the creation of that ministry last week, making it responsible for natural resource regulation, authorization and permitting. But natural resource policy making remains the purview of other ministries.
"This is not brand new, as was mentioned. We've been working toward this model over a period of time," explained Mr. Thomson, referencing the government's long-held desire to setup a one-stop-shop for such authorizations and permits. "Agencies and organizations out there have operated, in a sense, in that way already in many cases. The fundamentals are there."
But he acknowledged, "I don't have a specific timeline to get it done." Instead, he said he'll be "working collaboratively" to achieve the ministry's objectives - reducing natural resource development costs and timelines, as well improving certainty - "as quickly as possible."
Here's the rest of our notes from the briefing:
* the government intends to harmonize and simplify the province's natural resource legislation and reduce the number of permits required to work on the land;
* asked whether any other jurisdictions had organized their natural resource ministries in this way, Mr. Thomson said, "We've looked at other jurisdictions and there is ongoing work, by the way, that continues to look at how do we make sure this is most efficient. We've looked at other" jurisdictions including New Zealand;
* Mr. Thomson said the creation of the natural resource operations ministry won't lead to the underfunding of the government's natural resource policy-making ministries. "This is a collective, collaborative approach," he explained. "So I will be working with my colleagues to address all those issues."
* Mr. Thomson explained responsibility for wildfire management has been transferred from forests, mines and lands to his ministry because that work is related to "other activities on the land in those areas. So it made sense to have that in under the natural resource operations side of things;" and
* the government acknowledged some industries, such as resort development, already have a one-stop shop for permits. But the government wasn't able to say which industries don't enjoy that advantage - other than independent power production.
Mr. Thomson also spoke to reporters on camera after the briefing.