Northeast BC First Nations Land transfer

On July 18, 2016 the residents on Golf Course Rd. in Charlie Lake attended a meeting hosted by MLA Pat Pimm where we were advised of a negotiation in progress between the BC Provincial Government Ministry of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation (MARR), the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations (FLNRO) and Northeast BC First Nations to negotiate a settlement that could transfer 31 parcels of Crown Land to the title ownership of First Nations in the Region. The Lands are to be transferred to the Treaty 8 First Nations as part of Treaty Land Entitlements (TLE) and Site C mitigation, and that the Minister is utilizing government to government negotiations as per section 35 of the Constitution and direction by the Supreme Court of Canada. These parcels are spread across our Northeast Region and some are located in populated residential areas. Three of those for example, include a large parcel extending along Charlie Lake starting at the end of Golf Course Rd., another on Charlie Lake bordering Montney Park and the third surrounding a housing development at mile 63 ½ of the Alaska Highway. It was alarming to all meeting attendees that this process was being conducted and intended be finalized with no regional resident awareness or public participation in the process.

Thankfully Pat Pimm heard about this and proactively took this to the Government to object to this process. Pat was successful in having the BC Government recognize the formation of MLA First Nations Stakeholder Advisory Committee which is to be engaged in the negotiation to provide input from the community. The Stakeholder Committee sought more input from the community to support their position so our Golf Course Rd residents submitted the attached letter outlining our position objecting to these decisions being made without community awareness and engagement. While all of the parcels in question must be scrutinized closely, we took the position that the three properties listed above must be removed from further consideration. We further demanded that they organize public forums to ensure that input from the public in the region is heard. The Stakeholder Committee found the letter supportive and circulated it to the negotiating table, the Ministry Offices, the PRRD Board of Directors and to the Premier.

The next meeting of the Stakeholder Committee with the Negotiating Committee is scheduled in Fort St. John on Dec. 9 and the Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation will be in attendance. After working with the Stakeholder Committee team for a number of months, it is the opinion of our Golf Course Rd. Committee that they are representing our interests very well. The Stakeholder Committee is comprised of:

• North Peace BCWF rep
• South Peace BCWF rep
• North Peace Guide Outfitter rep
• South peace Guide Outfitter rep
• North Peace Trappers rep
• South Peace trappers rep
• North Peace winter recreation rep
• South peace Winter recreation rep
• North Peace Summer recreation rep
• South Peace Summer recreation rep
• North Peace Grain growers rep
• South Peace Grain growers rep
• North Peace Cattlemen’s rep
• South Peace Cattlemen’s rep
• North Peace resident
• South Peace resident
• Northern Rockies Winter Recreation member
• Northern Rockies Summer recreation member
• Two (2) community specific residents (specific to affected areas)
• Former Government Manager
• Former Government Manager
• Special invitations as requested by the committee
• Committee representatives may designate an alternate, if they are unable to attend.
• MLA for Peace River North
• MLA for Peace River South

THIS IS A CALL TO ACTION TO COMMUNICATE THE SUPPORT OUR REGION’S RESIDENTS HAVE IN THE STAKEHOLDER COMMITTEE.

The committee is very concerned about long protected watershed, the environment, development density, property access and recreational impacts that could affect the entire region. We firmly believe that all residents of Fort St. John, Charlie Lake, Taylor and other surrounding communities will also share these concerns.

We urge all interested groups in our communities to circulate this petition for signing. Please take action and sign the attached petition endorsing your support for the Stakeholder Committee in these negotiations and return all signed petitions to MLA Pat Pimm’s office at 10104 100 St., Fort St. John no later than Dec. 6. GIVEN THAT THIS IS AN ELECTION YEAR, A STRONG PUBLIC MESSAGE SHOULD BRING WEIGHT TO THE PROCESS. OUR VOICE MUST BE CLEAR THAT THE PUBLIC DEMANDS TO HAVE INPUT INTO THESE NEGOTIATIONS.

For further information, please connect to Pat Pimm’s website:
http://www.patpimmmla.bc.ca/committees/

We thank you for your support.




The Committee Representing the Residents of Golf Course Rd.












PETITION
Northeast BC First Nations Land Transfer


We, the undersigned, are now aware of the negotiations underway to negotiate land transfers of Crown Land property in Northeast BC to Treaty 8 First Nations and wish to express our serious concern over these negotiations. In signing this petition, we support the MLA First Nations Stakeholder Advisory Committee with the expectation that there will also be Community Forums organized to seek community input to the process.

September 11 2016


MLA First Nations Stakeholder Advisory Committee


C/O Pat Pimm


10104 100th St.


Fort St. John, BC


V1J 3Y7


 


In July of 2016 the residents of the Golf Course Road, Charlie Lake BC became aware that the government has identified 31 parcels of land that may be transferred to the Treaty 8 First Nations as part of Treaty Land Entitlements (TLE) and Site C mitigation, and that the Minister is utilizing government to government negotiations as per section 35 of the Constitution and direction by the Supreme court of Canada.  This action is effectively withholding this information from the public.


The residents of the Golf Course Road struck a committee to address the issue (the Committee).  The Committee would like to speak to the issue of land transfer on two levels.  First: the local issue that directly affects the Charlie Lake Watershed and second: the larger issue of land claims.


The Committee has adopted a principles based approach to the issue of land claims and has used these principles to govern the development of recommendations.  The principles are:



  1. Transparency and consultation

  2. Protection of Civil Rights and Democratic principles

  3. Protection and stewardship of public lands and watershed (capacity)

  4. Adherence to land use law and policy

  5. Historic use of properties

  6. Crown lands are a public asset and should be preserved for the use of all Canadians

  7. The Minister is accountable to the electorate


 


The following are our comments related to each of the above:



  1. Transparency and Consultation



  • Our Committee of residents and constituents of Charlie Lake strongly opposes any process related to land title changes in our community where residents are not given the opportunity to both receive full disclosure to deliberations in these negotiations and also be invited to provide input to those negotiations.

  • Public processes must be made public in a way that is accessible and understandable to citizens and the process must be followed demonstrating a respect and recognition that these decisions greatly impact communities and the people who are heavily invested in those communities.


 



  1. Protection of Civil Rights and Democratic principles


 



  • Democratic principles require a consultation with ALL people involved in the transfer of lands that belong to the people. 

  • Transparency, accountability, and consultation are core values of the Canadian democratic system that are not negotiable and must be upheld.

  • Any action that denies people of these basic rights has the potential to enrage every community in a broad reaching manner that would be detrimental to the objectives of this initiative.  People appropriately take these rights very seriously.


 



  1. Protection and stewardship of public lands and watershed (capacity)

    • The Charlie Lake watershed is critical to all Citizens of the region.  In the past the lake has been the primary source of potable water for the region and remains a critical source of water.  Today Charlie Lake is still designated as the back-up water supply for the City of Fort St. John, Charlie Lake and Area C of the PRRD.

    • The initial reserve for a watershed reserve was place on all vacant Crown Land around Charlie Lake in 1968.  A permanent designation was placed on the land in 1974. Standing agreements that protect the interests of the people regarding watersheds and sensitive areas must be upheld such as the 1968 agreement established by the British Columbia government protecting the Charlie Lake watershed.

    • In 2000, Charlie Lake was classified as a “Special Case Lake” within the PRRD Lakeshore Development Guidelines, July 2000.  Clearly established in the PRRD Official Community Plan is the statement that the development of Charlie Lake should be at no more than 50% and 15 years ago in 2001 development had already reached 35%.  It is far greater than that today.

    • The Ministry of the Environment recognizes the sensitivity and importance of the Charlie Lake watershed reserve #0288651 for the purpose of watershed management affecting lands referenced on Map No. 10, Sch. B.  Our committee requests a full review of their document 73265 which encompasses the two properties under consideration which have frontage on Charlie Lake.




 



  1. Adherence to land use law and policy



  • The Committee objects strongly to the government ignoring long standing land use policies to simply facilitate a settlement to these Treaty 8 negotiations.  Land use policies have been established and rigidly adhered to since that time to preserve the lands and protect them in the best interest of all Canadians including regional property owners.

  • The impacts of loss of tax revenues to local Governments must be addressed in order to ensure that core services are provided and that the taxpayer is not expected to subsidize provision of service to Treaty Land Entitlements;


 


 



  1. Historic use of properties

    • Property owners around the lake have made very significant real-estate investments with assurances from the PRRD and a clear understanding that the land designated as Crown Land around the Lake was to remain in perpetuity.

    • Long established policy has blocked any opportunity for public purchases of any portions of the lands.

    • Land "gifting" is a contravention of the rights of Canadians.  As the “Owners “of those lands, Citizens must be consulted to avoid the creation of a two tier system of civil rights. 



  2. Crown lands are a public asset and should be preserved for the use of all Canadians



  • Charlie Lake must be maintained as a recreational area.  The lake is heavily used year-round by residents of Charlie Lake, Fort St. John and all surrounding communities, and is a major tourist attraction for the region for fishing, camping, cross country skiing, hiking, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, hockey and skating, boating, water skiing and swimming.  The lake sees more public use every year.

  • Publicly accessible Crown Land is a valued regional asset on Charlie Lake and must be maintained.


 



  1. The Minister is accountable to the electorate



  • Entitlements have the potential to be a highly divisive issue and may serve to damage relationships that have been decades in the making.  Elected representatives assume an obligation to the full electorate to preserve those relationships and protect the interests of the public in general.

  • The Committee strongly encourages the Minister to rethink the current plan and come to the people with an open and transparent process.


 


CONCLUSIONS


The Committee understands the importance of TLE and Land claims to First Nations people and to the long term stability of the north and the nation. We fully support the efforts of the MLA First Nations Stakeholder Advisory Committee that is participating in the Land Transfer process and in doing so, we urge the parties to act on the following recommendations:



  1. Regarding lands in the Charlie Lake watershed that are proposed for transfer; the Committee position is that these lands be immediately removed from the land transfer proposal for all of the reasons above.

  2. The Committee also recommends the exclusion of a third property around the subdivision at Alaska Highway Mile 63.5 from transfer consideration recognizing that this area is also highly sensitive to strong community objection.

  3. Regarding Treaty Land Entitlement and Land Claims in general :

    1. We respectfully invite Aboriginal Relations & Reconciliation Minister John Rustad & Deputy Minister Doug Caul to attend a public meeting to be held in Charlie Lake before any further decisions are finalized relating to these impending land transfers in an open forum to fully clarify the issue being addressed and receive public input.

    2. The Committee requests that we be kept fully informed on activity and discussions through the course of these remaining land transfer negotiations for our region.


  4. The Committee requests that the Stakeholder Advisory Committee obtain a copy of the Ministry of the Environment Charlie Lake Watershed Reserve No. 0288651 document 73265 and contact the Ministry of the Environment to obtain any related information pertinent to these negotiations.  We would appreciate receiving a copy of this document. 


The Committee cannot over-emphasize the passion our community is experiencing over this issue.  Thank you very much for your consideration of our position.  We are very hopeful that these recommendations will be adopted respecting the input from the Community enabling this process to come to a mutually satisfactory solution.


We look forward to your prompt response


 


Respectfully


The Committee representing the Property Owners on Golf Course Rd, Charlie Lake


 


 

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