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The land it would move onto is considered significant to the Band, and Devlin says the expansion would threaten their treaty rights. However, Olympic Seismic has informed him that most of the work is completed, and it’s essentially too late to stop it.
“Unfortunately the company got everything done,” says Devlin, “and the court process is so slow that we couldn’t prevent them from doing what they did.”
The government also won’t be able to file its materials until the end of May, squashing the Band’s hopes of getting into court quickly.
Not wanting to dwell on the news, Halfway River is now focusing its efforts on preventing this from happening again on future projects. It will now be seeking a declaration that the Crown breached its duty to consult, to show that the OGC took the wrong approach in this matter.
“We can’t change the outcome on the ground, all we can do is change the process next time,” says Devlin.
Devlin says the Crown has an obligation to consult with them about potential adverse effects on the exercise of their treaty rights, and in this case, that wasn’t done. Once the province and Olympic Seismic file their papers, a date will be set for a hearing for a court decision. If it is declared that the Crown failed to properly consult with First Nations, the future process will be changed to ensure it happens correctly.
“We’ll be able to then say that the way the OGC approached consultation on this issue was wrong, and they can’t do it again,” he says. “They’ve got to do a better job.”
It’s expected the hearing will occur in the summer. As the work is already done, Devlin sees no reason to push the province to file earlier.
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