Committee pushing for transparency when it comes to land transfers

DAWSON CREEK, B.C. – The 2 Peace River Region MLA’S, Pat Pimm and Mike Bernier, wanted to make a committee to review provincial crown land parcels that were identified as possible future land transfers to First Nations.

The committee is in full swing now and MLA Pat Pimm made a presentation to the PRRD yesterday outlining what the committees goals are.

The Purpose of the Committee according to the presentation given yesterday is:

  • Transparency for the public
  • Communication to the public
  • Public consultation
  • Stakeholder consultation
  • Access for public

On February 16, 2016 the committee was made aware by Fort St. John Rod and Gun club about land that had been made available to First Nations.

Pimm said that between February 15th and March 1st, 2016 many meetings have taken place with Ministers and the Premier.

There are around 24 stakeholder memberships that will be represented.

The Ministry representatives will be from the Ministry of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation, The Forest Lands and natural Resource Operations, a FLNRO statutory decision maker, Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, BC Hydro rep, Conservation Officers, Oil and Gas Commission, and other Government officials by invitation of the chair.

Pimm recently said in July that it was “hoped to provide a forum for all stakeholders and community representatives to discuss and address local interests and concerns regarding the transfers in a timely and co-operative manner.”

Stakeholder meetings have taken place from May of 2016 to October 2016. There were 8 total over that time span.

The land transfers don’t include the lands that are being transferred to First Nations as a result of Site C discussions.

Pimm says that BC Hydro has no plans to talk to residents about the matter, saying that Hydro does not wish to name lands they intend to transfer to First Nations until the deal is done. He also says that the lack of transparency is “absolutely deplorable” and an “insult” to the 98% non First Nations population currently in the Peace Country.

The committee doesn’t agree fundamentally with BC Hydro on the process that is being used in negotiations with most of the First Nations. The committee wants transparency in the process but according to the presentation today, BC Hydro can’t have transparency or it will jeopardize their ability to negotiate.

He said in the presentation:

“My committee has submitted a set of recommendations to MARR, FLNRO and the Provincial Government. However, the response was less than the committee was expecting and they did not answer any of our recommendations directly.”

The recommendations had:

  • 6 transparency recommendations
  • 6 consultation recommendations
  • 6 access recommendations
  • 9 other general recommendations

The responses from the MARR have been vague. So far they have received:

  • 0 commitment to transparency recommendations
  • Partial agreement to 2 of the committees consultation recommendations
  • Partial yes on one of the committees access recommendations
  • Yes to one of the other general recommendations
  • In total – 1 yes, 1 almost yes, 2 partially yes
  • 23 no or no comment out of the 27 total recomendations

The committee also says they have demanded parcels of land in Charlie Lake and Mile 63.5 subdivision lands come off the table but the MARR has not committed to removing those lands from transfer discussions.

Pimm says the next steps for the committee are to finalize a report and submit it to MARR as well as the Premier’s Office. They also want to make information public from their end as they say the Ministry’s information will not be transparent. They want to see Annual Public meetings put on by MARR and FLNRO showing all updates that are currently being discussed.

They have also asked BC Hydro to publicly identify which lands are being discussed as part of the Site C negotiations.

Comments

Have something you'd like to add? Read our comment policy by clicking here.