Caribou calf in a maternity pen near Revelstoke, to protect it from wolves until it is old enough to survive. (Black Press Media)

Indigenous rights plan sparks concern in B.C. communities

Local governments left out of talks on caribou protection

When B.C.’s mayors and councillors gather for their annual convention this month, their top issue is keeping a seat at the table as the province remakes its land use consultation with Indigenous people.

The B.C. NDP government is expected to move ahead as soon as this fall with legislation to enact the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People. The doctrine of “free, prior and informed consent” on land use has been controversial since the UN declaration was passed a decade ago, with Canada removing its objection to its language in 2016.

The issue emerged this spring as communities found out about the B.C. government’s development of new restrictions on industrial development in caribou habitat. Premier John Horgan appointed Dawson Creek councillor and former B.C. cabinet minister Blair Lekstrom to consult with communities who were left out, after public meetings around the province were filled with people protesting the closed-door talks and effect on local economies.

RELATED: Plans to preserve caribou on hold as B.C. mends fences

RELATED: Forestry, recreation squeezed by B.C. caribou program

The province negotiated a deal with two northern Indigenous communities, the West Moberly and Saulteau First Nations, for large areas of caribou habitat in northeast B.C. Forests Minister Doug Donaldson also announced steps toward restrictions on a larger land area, to satisfy demands from Ottawa to avoid an emergency caribou protection order under federal species at risk legislation.

In June, the province accepted Lekstrom’s recommendation to place a two-year moratorium on new forest and mining development in the northeast region and consult with communities on the impact of the plan.

The Union of B.C. Municipalities executive has made the issue its top resolution for the convention. Their resolution calls for “principles of mutual respect, consultation and cooperation” as specified in the Community Charter to be maintained in future.

The UBCM convention runs Sept. 23-27, meeting this year at the Vancouver Trade and Convention Centre. It’s local governments’ annual opportunity to meet with B.C. cabinet ministers and debate their needs.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislature

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Better COVID-19 testing results needed in the north

Former senior Northern Health official also wants work camps shut down

Social media a blessing and a curse during time of crisis: B.C. communication expert

‘In moments of crisis, fear is very real and palpable,’ says SFU’s Peter Chow-White

Northern Health preparing ‘for a changing situation’ in response to COVID-19

The health authority is taking a number of measures to free up hospital capacity where possible

B.C. COVID-19 contact restrictions working, Dr. Bonnie Henry says

’Not out of the woods yet’ as next two weeks are critical

Northwest Regional Airport says ridership extremely low amid COVID-19

The airport has enacted enhanced sanitary measures and reduced flights

B.C. issues guidelines about distancing, reusable bags to grocery stores amid COVID-19

Hand sanitizer and markers to keep lines two metres are apart are needed, province says

No plans to call in military right now to enforce COVID-19 quarantine: Trudeau

Trudeau unveils $7.5M for Kids Help Phone, $9M for vulnerable seniors amid COVID-19

QUIZ: How much do you know about the Olympics?

Put your knowledge to the test with these 12 questions

B.C. announces $3M for food banks to increase capacity during COVID-19

It is not clear how much of the money will flow towards Greater Victoria food banks

B.C. is seeing the highest rate of COVID-19 recovery in Canada, and there’s a few reasons why

British Columbia was one of the first to see rise in COVID-19 cases, and has also switched up testing

World COVID-19 update: U.S. expects 100,000 deaths; Oregon declares disaster

Comprehensive update of world news for Sunday, March 19.

Sewers stitch masks to free up supplies for front-line health-care workers

“We have little old ladies sewing up a storm,” said Joan Davis

Experts weigh in on best handling of groceries during COVID-19 pandemic

Study suggests the virus can live for up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to three days on plastic

Most Read